I was raised by a mentally ill mother who was very abusive and kept me locked in a closet for much of my early childhood. My dad was gone a lot working long hard hours just to eke out a living. When he was home he was exhausted and passive and I didn't feel he was there for me as a protector from my mother. As a result, I grew up with a lot of depression, fear, anxiety, anger, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, futility, and rejection. By the time I was in my twenties, I was still locked in a closet emotionally.
I tried everything I knew to get out of that emotional closet of pain. I drank impressive quantities of alcohol, took dangerous amounts of drugs, went deeply into eastern religions, the occult, and unhealthy relationships. But these things gave me nothing more than a temporary relief, after which I was worse off than before. I became more and more depressed, fearful, anxious, and hopeless, until finally I couldn't stand the pain any longer and I wanted to die. Actually, I didn't want to die. I just saw no other way out of the pain that was so debilitating I could no longer live with it. So I planned to kill myself with sleeping pills, as soon as I could get my hands on enough of them to do the job right.
At the same time my friend, Terry, with whom I had been singing on television and doing recordings, said to me, "I can see you are not doing well, Stormie. Why don't you come with me to meet my pastor.
When I hesitated, she pushed a little harder. "What have you got to lose?" she asked.
I had no answer for that question, so I agreed to go with her. She arranged for the three of us to meet for lunch a few days later.
When I met Pastor Jack Hayford, he talked to me about Jesus in a way that made Him sound amazingly real and very much like a close and loving friend. He helped me understand that most of my problems existed because I was separated from God and the only way to bridge that separation was to receive Jesus as my Savior. If I did that, then God would put His Holy Spirit in my heart and I would never again be distant from Him. If I surrendered my life to the Lord, He would change me from the inside out and help me become all He created me to be.
Pastor Jack gave me three books and told me to go home and read them and then return the following week to tell him what I thought. I put my suicide plans on hold and started reading. The first book was about the workings of evil, the second was about the reality and power of the Holy Spirit, and the third was the gospel of John in book form. As I was reading, my eyes were opened. The words leaped off the pages with vitality and meaning. Suddenly I could see my life from a completely new perspective. I read that God loved us so much He sent His Son to earth to die in our place, and if we believe in Jesus then we can spend eternity with Him. He came so that we can have life and have it more abundantly, but unless we are born again we can't see the kingdom of God. I knew I wanted that abundant life of God's love, peace, and joy, and I wanted to experience God's kingdom both in this life and in eternity.
When Terry and I went back the following week, Pastor Jack asked me what I thought of the books and I said, "I think they are the truth". He asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus and I told him yes. I wanted to be forgiven of all my mistakes of the past, and get free of the death that was being worked in my life because of them. And I longed for a personal connection and close relationship with a loving God. The cold, distant gods of my occult practices and eastern religions were not able to change me from the inside out the way the God of the Bible could, nor was unconditional love communicated from them.
Right after I received Jesus as my Savior that day in Pastor Jack's office, I noticed a difference in my life. I had a feeling of peace, of being accepted, of being cleansed from all my past failure, of starting over with a clean slate. And I felt love, joy, and hope for the first time. I also had a growing sense of purpose, and I began to see a future for my life. As I grew in God's Word, I learned to walk in His way. I became better able to make right choices. And with the Holy Spirit's leading and enablement, I could resist falling back into old habits of doing things that were not God's will for my life. As I moved into the deliverance and freedom He had for me, I gradually became free from depression, anxiety, and fear.
I learned about the power of prayer and the great things that can happen when we pray. I learned about the importance of worshiping and praising God and the transformation that takes place in our souls when it becomes our priority. I learned that the more I obeyed God, the more I changed. In fact, God changed me and my life so much over the years that today I hardly recognized myself from the person I used to be. And the best part is I know that what He did in me, He can do in anyone. That's why my goal in life is to help others find that same freedom, healing, restoration, fulfillment, and purpose that I have found. I want them to know the wonderful life-transforming power of God's love and all that He has for them, so they can become all He created them to be.