I am writing this as a way to share all that God has done and continues to do in my heart and life. God has redeemed my life from the stronghold of addiction to alcohol and drugs. Complete deliverance is the reality I am now living by His grace.
The following is my personal testimony and I am not giving medical advice. Always consult your medical professional concerning medications and remain under medical supervision.
“The Gift of Repentance”
What a wonderful Savior He is to me! He has been with me the whole way—through the many years of darkness—lovingly watching over me. You see, Jesus saved me when I was very young, only ten years old. From that day until now, He has never left nor forsaken me. Even when I was deep in sin, He stayed.
By longsuffering and great mercy, He allowed me to have my own freewill even if it meant hurting myself and others…but not without chastisement. God would not let me live in peace with my sins. Always afterwards, my heart would be grieved and my spirit broken.
How many times did I find myself on my knees in front of a commode, throwing up until I felt I would die? Kneeling there, I would be praying to God to please forgive me…so sorry I messed up again. Then with heartfelt vows I promised to never drink or take pills again. How many times did I break that promise?
It has been almost 12 years now since Jesus helped me finally keep that promise. I have not kept it, He has! : ) Jesus has the power to overcome every stronghold!
When my daughter, Robyn asked me how I was going to keep from drinking and taking pills, I told her I was not going to do anything…Jesus was doing it for me. She now understands what at first alarmed her. All power belongs to HIM! Greater is HE that is in me than he that is in the world!
How did I finally learn to cast my burdens upon Him and trust Him to do what I could never do? The goodness of God is how.
Yes, by God’s goodness He gave me repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. The truth was that all those things I had thought to be true about myself did not matter. Jesus mattered! What I was in Him mattered.
I remember praying in 2006 on New Year’s Eve. I was sitting at my kitchen table and got down on my knees in front of the chair and began praying. God began showing me some things.
First He showed me just how sinful my sin was—that same sin that I had always excused as not my fault. What I had been taught through man’s wisdom was that I could not help it…I was an alcoholic and addict. I had an incurable disease. So every one of my terrible sins done while under the influence was not really my fault. After all, I was the victim here.
But kneeling there at my kitchen table, God opened my eyes to my sin and that I was the only one to blame. No longer could I blame it on a so-called disease…or even on a bad childhood or a bad marriage. It was me…all me.
Seeing that truth, I was able to accept my sin as my own and I was without excuse. With the knowledge of my great sin clearly upon me, God gave me the gift of repentance from it…
I accepted God’s forgiveness and understood that of myself I was nothing and that only in Jesus could I find my identity and be free from condemnation. Even after I prayed that prayer, the adversary began to accuse me in my mind. I will never forget the revelation God gave me as I spoke these words back: “It’s not me anymore! I am in Jesus and covered by His blood.”
“Trying Hard To Do Better”
I wish that after that night everything would have been okay, but it took another nine months for me to become victorious in Christ over the stronghold of addiction. You see, I was still taking six prescription medications: three types of anti-depressants, an anti-anxiety medication, narcotic pain pills and muscle relaxers. By that next March I drank again and the chastisement was so great!
Later that same spring, we had a tornado warning and were told to take shelter. I remember thinking this is really it…we are about to have a tornado hit our house. So what did I do? Well, I grabbed hold of what I knew I could not live without or take a chance on the wind blowing away. No…not my Bible, and no…not my family pictures…no, instead I took a plastic bag and put all my bottles of pills in it and went to the safest room in the house and sat there in my bathtub!
As I sat there holding my plastic bag full of pills and waiting for the tornado to hit, I started thinking about how much that bag of pills meant to me. Well, the tornado never came, but God got His point across to me! : )
After that day I began to plan how to wean myself off of all those pills. The three antidepressants were the hardest. I planned out how I would slowly lower the milligrams I would take until finally I could stop.
One day, my son, Mike called and I was so proud of myself that I had to tell him what I was doing. I told him the details of how I would slowly lower the doses and how many milligrams of each pill. But instead of him saying how proud he was of me, he said something that totally opened my eyes…he said, “Man that must be awful to have something like that controlling your life.”
He did not mean it in a bad way—he just felt sorry for me. His words opened my eyes to the fact that even though I proudly thought I was the one in control, I really wasn’t. After that, I began to completely stop one medication at a time until I no longer took any pills. The anti-depressants were the hardest to withdraw from and I threw up for three weeks straight until my body finally adjusted.
Then in late June, I relapsed. When I had stopped taking the anti-anxiety pills, the pain pills, and the muscle relaxers, I had put the bottles in the freezer. Then, when I became weak and tempted—I ended up getting the pills back out of the freezer—convincing myself that I would only take one…but I did take more than one. Not only that, I ended up going out and drinking too. Later that night I found myself in jail.
Finding myself arrested for DUI and standing on a concrete floor behind the locked door of a jail cell, all I could think of was how I needed a cigarette. Once home again the next day, the full weight of my fall hit me. How could I have done it again? I tried so hard to do right! I had made it over three whole months without taking pills or drinking.
Looking back now, I know exactly why I fell…I had made my own provision to fall. When I stopped taking the pills, I had not thrown them away. Instead, I had saved them in the freezer. One of the principles I was to learn later, while in the Reformers Unanimous School of Discipleship, was to make no provision for the flesh…
The Lord really was doing a miracle in my life—it was just taking time. What I did not know was that He was allowing me to find out that I could not overcome my addiction in my own strength.
Right after getting out of jail, and having to face myself and what I had done—my prescription that I had not cancelled arrived in the mail. It was a three-month supply of a tranquilizer called Xanax.
I began taking them to numb my mind from the shame and guilt I felt. I ended up taking the three-month supply in the next three weeks. It was like I had given up on ever doing better.
This was different than my usual pattern through the years. Usually after really messing up, I would be so ashamed and depressed that I would ‘turn over a new leaf’ and go another two or three months without drinking.
Finding those tranquilizers in the mailbox was the worst thing for me. The pills numbed my conscience and kept me from trying to do better. I am so thankful that the Lord mercifully watched over me during those three weeks.
At the end of the three weeks, I was brain-damaged. My eyesight was blurry. I knew that I would be going through a terrible withdrawal from the Xanax, but made the decision to try and make it through it at home instead of going into the hospital.
How many times had I been in the hospital in the past fifteen years? At least seven times? Once on Christmas day, another time around Christmas, three times after overdosing, and at least two more times for suicidal thoughts.
As always the doctors would tell me I had an incurable disease, put me on another antidepressant and tell me to join a 12-step program. According to them, the best I could ever hope for would be a conditional, one-day-at-a-time, temporary reprieve from my addiction.
But this time I did not want to go back to that. I wanted real help! So as the hours began passing, I began praying. Sleep would not come and my mind began to torture me. All the guilt and shame overwhelmed me. Soon the panic attack thoughts came…“I might die if I don’t go to hospital and let the doctors help me!”
It must have been the Lord helping me be strong enough to stay home. Finally, after three days, I began to sleep some. My vision began getting better too.
Once again, I began climbing my way back out of the pit of hopelessness, self-condemnation and despair—just as I had done over and over for the past fifteen years.
Convinced I needed to leave my husband, but having nowhere to go, I accepted the offer of a man who I thought was my friend. He offered to let me stay in his trailer until I could get a place of my own.
Once there, I began drinking every day. I was going downhill faster than ever before. Little did I know, my daughter, Robyn had asked her pastor, Bro. Broughton, to pray for me because she believed I would end up dead.
I am so thankful for his prayers because I did almost die that week. After five straight days of drinking and taking pills, I got in a fight with the man I was staying with and left with three strangers.
Two of the men were nice to me at first, but the other man didn’t like me. He had a knife that he kept holding to my face and acting like he wanted to cut me. At one point I remember being out in the woods and lying down on the ground and yelling for the man to go ahead and kill me. In my drunken, drug-filled mind, I really meant what I said. It was only prayer and God’s mercy and grace that saved me from being killed that night.
“Prayer for Deliverance”
The next day I went back to the trailer and tried to sleep. As I opened my eyes that afternoon, the first thing I saw was a roach crawling on a shelf a few inches from my face. I hated myself. I felt so hopeless and alone. That moment could have been the perfect setup for me to commit suicide. I was so sick of myself! I was tired of my life of defeat. The man I was with told me to just take another pill—but by God’s grace I chose not to.
Once again, it was because someone was praying for me that God’s mercy and grace intervened into my thoughts. As the hours passed, I became filled with hope. I remembered my daughter, Robyn had told me about a place where I could go away and get help. The thought came to me with power—I didn’t want to be an alcoholic and drug-addict anymore.
That is when I knelt beside the bed. There in that dark room, I humbly asked Jesus to please help me. Through the years, I had prayed many times for forgiveness and for help. But this time was the last time I had to ask for deliverance from my addiction! : )
I praise the Lord because he had mercy on me! I got up from my knees and stood in the light of having been delivered to the uttermost! I called my daughter and my husband and told them I wanted to come home and go to that place where I could get the help I needed.
“A Place of Grace”
“For Mommy: Do not read until you are in the parking lot of Reformers Unanimous in Rockford, Illinois.”
Those were the words that stared back at me from the envelope I held in my lap as my husband drove me to the Reformers Unanimous Discipleship School.
This was it! I was so excited, but nervous too—especially because I knew they did not allow cigarette-smoking there. So as we drove, I practically chain-smoked…knowing in a few hours I would be having to quit ‘cold-turkey’.
Three weeks earlier, when my husband had brought me back home, I promised him that I would finally get the help I needed. I knew God had done something in my heart! From the time I got home I began praying.
When I would get on my knees to pray, I envisioned myself really kneeling at the foot of Jesus’ cross. I was completely surrendered and submitted to Him. Instead of feeling ashamed and depressed, I understood that the Lord was doing something wonderful in my life!
I called Robyn and asked her about that place she had told me about. I looked up their number and called Reformers Unanimous in Rockford, Illinois. I spoke with the Women’s Dean of the Discipleship school, Mrs. Lay. I explained to her my story and how much I wanted to get help.
She told me she was sorry but at the time they did not have any empty beds in the Women’s Home. She advised me to go to the Friday night RU class held in a church in my town. She also said if I could, to go ahead and get an “It’s Personal Daily Journal” and begin using it. I followed her advice.
The very first day I began using the journal, it helped me so much. Each day, I would read a chapter in Proverbs and then find the verse that really stood out to me. Then I would write that verse down and meditate on it that day. The verses in Proverbs introduced me to the concept and the value of having wisdom and understanding.
The Friday night RU class was good. The people there were so friendly and I got to watch a video of Bro. Steve Curington, the RU Founder. The next week, I called Mrs. Lay again and told her how much the journal was helping me and how I liked the Friday night class. She said there were still no empty beds, but I could go ahead and put in an application. So I did.
The very next week, I received a phone call from Mrs. Lay. She was happy to tell me that my application had been accepted and there was room in the Women’s Home for me.
She told me I could come there. But I was already getting better now, I thought. In fact, the journal and the Friday night class were just what I needed! I told her that I thought I was going to be okay now and thanked her. She said that if I knew of anybody else that needed the help to let her know.
Then I called Robyn up to tell her that Mrs. Lay had called to tell me I could come there after all…but that I had told Mrs. Lay that I was okay now! Well…then I heard Robyn say the words that we now still laugh about…“Call Mrs. Lay back and tell her that the ‘other Julie’ still needs to come there.”
You see, my son and daughter had watched me go through this cycle many times before. I would start getting better and think I was cured and then a few months later, I would fall again.
Robyn told me the truth. And by God’s grace, I did call Mrs. Lay back! And I did tell her that my daughter said “the other Julie” needs to come there. : )
As my husband pulled the car into the parking lot of Reformers Unanimous and stopped the engine, I opened the envelope in my lap and began reading…
September 22, 2007
If you are reading this letter then you are sitting in Rockford, Illinois, in the parking lot of Reformers Unanimous! Wow! What a miracle! Such an awesome answered prayer that I will be telling my great-grandchildren about, Lord willing. Now that is the kind of God we serve! I know that you are probably a nervous wreck right now, but that’s okay. I want to share with you a Bible verse the Lord gave to me for you, tonight during Isaiah’s devotion time.
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore, the children of men put their trust
under the shadow of thy wings. (Psalm 36:7)
The devotion tells about a hen watching over her baby chicks and how that she will gather them under her wings when there is danger near to protect them. She will also shelter them beneath her wings at night to keep them warm and dry. God protects us like that! He keeps you safe under His wings of lovingkindness.
Mommy, I know that is what the Lord is doing for you by bringing you to this place. He is taking you under His wings of lovingkindness! I know you may be scared of all the unknowns you are about to embark on, but you can rest assured that God has a plan and He is paying special attention to protect and teach you.
Isn’t that wonderful that the Lord is that personal! He loves and cares about everything in Julie Page Heath’s life! Trust Him! Let me say that again, Trust Him! I will be thinking of and praying for you every day! I am so proud of you for stepping out in faith and taking this journey with the Lord! Now I want you to take a deep breath and walk into that building and surrender your life to the Lord!
…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor. 5:17).
I love you so much,
P.S. Isaiah says, “God is bigger than the boogie man.”
Robyn’s letter confirmed to me that by coming to this place, my life would never be the same again! My husband and I got out of the car and walked into the office of Reformers Unanimous International.
God is So Faithful!
Almost twelve years have now passed since that day I arrived at the Reformers Unanimous School of Discipleship. God blessed me the six months I was there by teaching me many life-changing truths!
I went there hoping to never drink or take drugs again…and left having a daily personal relationship with my Lord! The whole alcohol/drug stronghold is gone…so far removed from me that I can truly say that I am dead to it.
I’m on a journey of learning by God’s grace—to live this new, wonderful, challenging, amazing, liberty-filled Christian life…
There’s no high like the most High!
I’m truly thankful for all God has done and continues to do for me. My hope is to be used by Him to point another one like me to the truth that will make them free too!
Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony. Please let me know if you would like me to pray for you or your loved one. You can email me at Julie@LovedForeverAfter.com.
If you would like more information about faith-based help for addiction, visit rockfordru.org.