Todays’ story comes from a dear friend of mine, someone I have had the privilege of walking beside and witnessing true transformation in. When we met, my heart ached for her. The pain in her life was visible on her face and had built great walls around her. But as she chose to let God in, little by little, those walls began to crumble, and she began to shine.
Her friendship is genuine, and her honesty is inspiring. She has discovered amazing breakthrough in some places, and is still fighting for breakthrough in others. But in all of it, she has not stopped. She has persisted with such hunger that she has made me hunger, too, for the things God has in store for all of us.
Sometimes breakthrough comes with a process we submit ourselves to, and have to follow through with. In that process we discover a path we couldn’t have found anywhere else. And in that path, we discover our true selves, as God unravels everything false, and brings to light all that is true, with His healing love and gentle power. Such is this woman’s story.
I pray you are blessed by her testimony, and that you will continue to seek God for the freedom and the love He has for you. I also pray that, like my friend, you will begin to see and cherish the women God has placed around you as instruments of hope, help and healing. Because we truly do need each other…
“My Name is Diane, and this is my resurrection story….
It was 11:00 am in 1972 when the doctor said, ‘A Starr is born.’ (My last name is Starr.) I was Daddy’s little girl. Then four years later my sister was born. At age 6, Dad would yell at me because I could not tell my right from my left. At age 9, I became my dad’s verbal hitting bag, day after day being called stupid. That’s when I had my first drink of Jack Daniels at my cousin’s house.
At age 13, my world began to change. One day I came home from school and my mom told me she had cheated on my dad with a family friend. My dad started asking me for advice on his relationship with my mom. My sister started calling me names, and my parents didn’t stop her. At school I was being called names. When I tried to say something about how I was being treated, I was getting slapped across the face. So I learned to hide how I was feeling by drinking, hitting myself, hitting walls, breaking windows, and/or calling myself names. I thought I was stupid, good for nothing.
When I was 18, I was on the high school soccer team and learned that it’s never okay to cry or say sorry, or I would be punished when I got back to the locker room. The coach would call us losers and make us run 20 laps in the rain. If we lost, we just learned to suck it up and hang our heads in shame. I learned not to cry, and to keep my mouth shut. I learned that it was best to be tough.
But it wasn’t all bad because God had a plan!
There was this girl in my class, and every day she would bug me. Every day she was getting on me about my cussing, because I cussed so bad I could put a sailor to shame. One day, she challenged me to go 5 minutes without saying a cuss word, and then she would leave me alone. But if I couldn’t do it, I would have to go to church with her. I took the bet…and I lost. So I went to her youth group.
For the first time I felt like I fit in somewhere. Two days later we went to snow camp. My friend got hurt, so we had to take her to the hospital. On the way back to camp, I got car sick. So we had to stop. When they opened the van door, I flew out of the car as fast as I could. When I was done throwing up, I came back to the van. The people who were still in the van were all talking in these weird languages. I was freezing outside the van with only a sweatshirt on, but I was a tripping out about what was going on inside the nice, warm van, so I just stayed cold and kept my distance.
When we got back to camp, they were having service. I went down to the altar. This guy turned and looked at me and said, ‘I have a message from God for you. He wants me to tell you that He will never leave you.’ I looked at my friend and asked her, ‘What did you tell this guy?’ I figured she knew him, but she didn’t. I turned and looked at the guy, and asked him what he knew about me. But he said he didn’t know anything. That night, I had a dream. I was in a room, and two figures were standing in front of me. One was dressed in white, the other was in in black with yellow, diamond eyes. I woke up in a cold sweat and then fell back asleep. The next thing I saw was a figure dressed in white saying, ‘I will never leave you. I love you.’ After that dream, my youth group became home to me.
I went to camp one day at Bethany Bible University. From that moment,I knew I wanted to go to that school,and made it my goal. But at age 21, our youth Pastor left, and my friend stopped talking to me. She told me that if I turned my back on God, He would never forgive me. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn, so I started drinking again. My life was falling apart again.
At age 27, I started working at Kiddie Care, which was run by a church. One of the teachers asked me to come to the church, so I went. I also started saving up for Bethany, but I still couldn’t stop drinking. I would drink on my lunch breaks and after work. One of my coworkers prayed that every time I drank, I would get sick. Shortly after that, I found out I had ADD/ADHD. Everything was a mess that I didn’t know how to fix.
By age 30, I had saved $12,000 for Bethany, and I set my heart to go. I was so happy when I got the letter that I was accepted. I couldn’t believe that they wanted me, someone who could only read at 7th grade level. I loved Bible school, and I graduated from there in 2004. It was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.
When I was 31, the church I had been going to closed their doors. This also meant I would be losing my job, because the church that was closing ran the school I was working at. Again, I didn’t know what to do, so I started drinking. I lost myself in that for 4 more years.
At age 35, I got involved with Splashdogs, and I met my best friend, Serena. Four years later, on October 18, 2013, I saw a post on Facebook that my best friend had passed away. I remember going home and telling myself there was no way I would ever get close to anyone again.
Then in 2015, I met another friend, PJ. We would go out drinking, and drink together at home. We spent a lot of time together, at first, but then she suddenly stopped talking to me. It seemed like every relationship I had ended in loss, pain or betrayal, and I was sick and tired of it.
In 2016, I was driving down the street in Hayward, and I saw a sign that read “NHRC: New Horizon Recovery Center.” I called the church where the sign was hanging, and the lady said I should come, so I showed up. I was scared, to say the least. I felt like I had nothing at that point. I was lower than bug spit. I went there for 6 months, and then the leader of the NHRC group took me under her wing. She told me I needed a recovery church, so I looked around and started Celebrate Recovery at a church in Dublin, and went through a program called Cleansing Streams. I plowed through and finished the 12 step study in 2016, and in January of 2017 I was baptized.
Before recovery, I could never stay clean because I didn’t have the tools. I’m so thankful for Celebrate Recovery and the 12 steps because, without them, I was only a dry drunk. I could stop drinking, but I was still sick inside, and I couldn’t stay clean. Every time I relapsed and went back to drinking, the addiction would drag out longer. Now I’ve been clean for more than 2 years!
My recovery journey has changed my life so much. Even when I get mad, I use writing as a tool and turn to my accountability team to walk me through it. Before this journey, I couldn’t trust anyone, But the people God placed around me in my recovery journey showed me that I can trust again. I have been working on trust now for more than year.
If someone were to ask me what touched my life the most, I would have to say my 12 step journey. As I look back, my greatest spiritual experience began the day I walked into my first recovery group and God put an awesome spiritual mentor in my life. She took me under her little wing, took the time to help me grow in my faith and told me to get rooted in a solid Christian recovery program. I am so thankful she had a willing heart to listen to what God was telling her, and I’m so thankful God placed her in my life. I pray that one day I’ll be able to honor her adn God by pouring into someone’s life the way she has poured into mine.
Today, I try to live the steps I’ve learned by admitting that I am powerless, and trusting God’s power to lead and keep me. It’s nice to be able to believe that a power greater than me can restore my life back to sanity. I have turned my life over to the care of God, which helped me to make a searching and fearless inventory of myself and my life. There was some scary stuff to face in that inventory, but I’ve been able to admit my wrongs, and I’ve become ready to have God remove my character defects as I humble myself and ask Him to deal with my shortcomings. I have made amends to all the people I have harmed, and I continue to do regular heart checks and admit when I am wrong, taking the necessary steps to deal with it. I pray daily to know God’s will for my life, and for His power to carry the message of what I’ve learned in everything I do.
As I look back on my story today, I can say that God has been there since day 1. I can honestly say that I can trust God, and that He will put women in my life who will walk beside me. He has given me some awesome Godly women that I love and respect. I know they will speak truth into my life.
God is truly a chain breaker! I would like to leave you with this verse:
“Yet I am always with You. You hold me by my right hand.” Psalm 73:23
I chose this verse because, as I was writing my testimony, I came to realize that He was in fact always there with me, even when I was lost in my mess and sin.”