God had a plan for me!

​My name is Sara McNally and I am 34 years old. I came to Adult and Teen Challenge of the Firelands December 27, 2017.  I have always believed in God. No matter what was going on in my life I never doubted that there was a God. Where I struggled though, was my worth and value. I knew that I was broken and I knew God was powerful enough to heal me, I just never believed I was worthy of His love or that He wanted to make me whole. 

​Fear was a constant in my life. As far back as I can remember, even as a tiny little girl. I lived in fear of living. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life with the way I felt inside. I remember lying in bed at night trying to look for something I could look forward to, anything to give me a reason to get out of ben in the morning. I also frequently fantasized about my funeral (not normal). I would picture would be there, who would cry and who wouldn’t and who wouldn’t even come at all. I lived in morbid despair even as a child. As I got older, the funeral fantasies dissipated but the hopelessness grew.

I never really had a personal relationship with Jesus

​I attended church regularly or when it was convenient. I was a Christian but I never really had a personal relationship with Jesus. I wanted one, but I didn’t know how to attain one. I lived in pain, plagued with guilt and shame, inner turmoil wreaked havoc on my physical body. I lived in darkness and self-hatred consumed me. I hated who I was, I hated what I did, I hated that I hurt the people I loved, I hated where I came from…. I HATED me. I was hopeless and empty. 

​My childhood was unstable at best. We were very poor and both my parents worked very hard to put food in our bellies and clothes on our bodies. I probably spent about 90% of my life in daycare and at babysitters. We moved frequently, probably 2-3 times a year, by the time we moved to Florida when I was half way through my 3rd grade year I had attended six different schools in two different states. My sister was my only friends, we learned not to make friends knowing that we would just have to say goodbye, a pattern that continued into my adulthood. 

My secrets were not kept.

​When I was 12, an affair my father was having surfaced. I had been struggling with behavioral issues. I was, what appeared to be, a very bubbly and fun loving happy child. But at home I would have explosive outburst of anger and violent rage. These outbursts would normally be followed by extreme sadness and deep depression driving me into isolation fueled by shame. In desperation, my parents put me into counseling. I met with a counselor once week in her dark office lit by single lamp in the corner, we would sit on her floor and I would color her pictures. She told me that I tell her everything, and that everything that I told her was our secret, that should not tell anybody. But my secrets were not kept. My father was reported to the state of Florida for being a perpetrator of childhood sexual abuse and was removed from our home. I believed I single handedly destroyed my family. In the months that followed my life changed drastically. My days were filled with various appointments from one on one counseling, family counseling, court hearing and dispositions, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychological testing’s and evaluations.Through all of this, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and put on medication. This was the beginning of a 21 year battle with mental illness, medication trial and error and frequent trips and stays in psychiatric hospitals and lock downs. 

Medications, I hated them. I never saw them help and was plagued with adverse side effects that required their own pill to counteract their reaction. I was desperate for relief from my own brain and emotions and would do anything to escape. I turned to alcohol. I was first introduced to the emotional anesthetic years before by babysitters and remembered the warm comfort if offered. 

When I drank, the pain stopped. It was like turning the light switch off. The minute I took a drink, darkness washed over me, the world around me and the pain inside of me went away. 

I was 16 years old the first time I went to rehab. I spent the next 18 years of my life trying to find the answer, trying to find a way to escape the darkness I lived in, trying to find freedom from the darkness that lived in me. 

I met Thomas through a Veteran Service Organization that I volunteered at in Texas. I barely knew him, he was far outside my norm and no one I would ever see myself with. So what did I do, I ran off with him for three days. It was Memorial Day weekend in 2013. Five weeks later I found out that I was pregnant. I hadn’t seen or talked to Thomas since that weekend 5 weeks before. He did everything in his power to try and convince me to ab ort my baby. I couldn’t, I knew the pain and destruction of abortion, I had lived it. I was 16 when I aborted my first child and I was not willing to do it again. So we got married, makes perfect since (NOT). Our marriage was a constant struggle. Neither one of us was ready for the sacrifices of having a family. We both were selfish and in our own sickness. I believe that we both tried our best, but our best at that time was just not enough. I was a mess, I couldn’t stay sober and ended up in multiple different rehabs while I was pregnant and I even wound up in jail. Only by the grace of God, Abrams was born on January 18 2014 perfectly healthy. 

Thomas and I separated and Abrams was sent to California to live with my Mother In-Law. I continued to sleep with Thomas, I think in some sick way this was how I felt like I had control over the situation. I got pregnant again. Thomas refused to believe our baby was his, he moved away and we got divorced. Thomas never bet Patton until the day that we gave him up for adoption, he was 18 months old. 

After letting go of Patton, any desire I had left in my life to livewas gone. I became a member of the walking dead, existing, welcoming death. I had lost everything and I had given up. 

I met Melissa Gilkey in a treatment center in January of 2015, she told me of a yearlong faith based treatment program that she would help get me into if I ever needed it. God whispered in my ear and told me to call her, I did. I also called my Gram and she came and got me and helped get me into detox on December 10 2017. While I was in detox everything was set up to get me in to Teen Challenge. My mom and I flew into Cleveland on December 26 and I walked into the doors of Teen Challenge in Willard Ohio on December 27 2017. 

I have come a long way in healing through my past. I have learned who I am in Christ and that I was created for a purpose. I have been able to identify the driving forces behind my addiction and address the things that controlled me. I have been able to forgive the people who have hurt me and I have finally been able to forgive myself. I am no longer ashamed of the things of my past. I know that God is working them all together for the good of His great purpose. Where there was hatred, I have found love. Where there was pain I have found compassion. Where there was despair I have found hope. Where there once was darkness, there now is light. 

I graduated January 26, 2019, I decided to stay on as an Arise Intern. I still have a long way to go, I still struggle with anger and control. I still need healing in my soul. But God has shown me, that with him, this task is not daunting, its and adventure in grace and compassion through the love of The Father. He will take me from grace to grace and glory to glory. He has given me a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing for despair. In my righteousness, I will be like a great oak the Lord will plant for His own glory (Isaiah 61:3) I have been re-created in Jesus Christ to stand out. He has called me out of darkness and into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). He called me by name, I am His beautiful beloved daughter. I was created for a purpose, to shine light into the darkness, to tell others what the love of Jesus has done for me, and to show them then too can be free. 

I met Jesus at Teen Challenge. He showed Himself to me through the people here who have sacrificed everything to serve Godand through the love that they have shown me. I have learned that the temporary and fleeting comfort of alcohol was Satan’s lies in disguise that kept me bound and broken. I have found that truth, the truth that is love, a love that is real and it will never leave me, that truth is Jesus Christ and he lives in me. 

Where I am now.  Since graduating Teen Challenge, I realized that the healing process had only just began. Its been a journey though beautiful peaks and devastating valleys. My life did not get easier. God never promised a life free from pain, from challenges and heartache. In face, we are told they WIll come. The promise that I have stood on, is that God will NEVER leave me nor forsake me. He has been there through it all. My faith has grown in seeing Gods hand in my life. He has brought me to the Freedom Home to share the love that He so freely showed me. I get to watch women, broken and shattered come into this house God prepared for them, and watch Him breath new life into them.  The hope that once was missing in my life, the fear and desperation… God has taken that and given me a hope that with Him, my life is filled with meaning and purpose. That I am never alone, even in the loneliest places. He has surrounded me with family, His family, the Body of Christ. I never felt like I had a home, and now… no matter where I am, I am at home. 

5 Replies to “Sara”

  1. This was an amazing testimony that took courage and faith. I hope this testimony helps you continue to grow closer to God. I hope this testimony helps people know that it is ok to be open to what they have been through because it’s always been in Gods hands as long as we allow him into our lives.

    1. Precious Sara — thank you for sharing your testimony; that takes a special strength. Amazing what we can do when we have Jesus in our hearts and soul — you found Him. Your outside beauty is unmistakable but your inner beauty is your true gift. You’ve always had a purpose in this world and now, because of what you have experienced, you get to share it to save others – a great gift you will be giving. I love you dear girl and I have such respect for you for the journey that you have chosen to travel. One of my favorite sayings – “What we are is God’s gift to us – what we become is our gift to God.” Go out into the world and share your special gift!!
      Love always, Barb

  2. Precious Sara — thank you for sharing your testimony; that takes a special strength. Amazing what we can do when we have Jesus in our hearts and soul — you found Him. Your outside beauty is unmistakable but your inner beauty is your true gift. You’ve always had a purpose in this world and now, because of what you have experienced, you get to share it to save others – a great gift you will be giving. I love you dear girl and I have such respect for you for the journey that you have chosen to travel. One of my favorite sayings – “What we are is God’s gift to us – what we become is our gift to God.” Go out into the world and share your special gift!!
    Love always, Barb

  3. Sara, thank you for sharing this with me. I have so much love for you. It has been so long since I have seen you but you are in my heart forever. It gives me so much joy to see you healthy and in a good place. I truly praise our God for saving your body, mind and soul. Love your friend, Shannon Ballard Blakely

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