Coming to Shelterwood was probably one of the best, and one of the hardest things that has happened in my life. Coming in, I was dealing with a lot of emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies. I didn’t know who I was, and I was lost. Having been a Christian my whole life, I had tried to lean on God through my painful experiences, but at the time all the lies I was hearing drowned out the truth.
The Shelterwood staff and teachers came along beside me and walked with me during this confusing time of finding myself, and just generally maturing. It took me a very long time to start putting effort into the program, and actually want to work on myself. I was on one level for more than six months!! But once I decided that I wanted to move forward from my old ways, I jumped in head first. I was challenged to stand up for my faith, and have that lead my life. I learned so much about who I truly was in God’s eyes, and how to distinguish truth from lies.
That’s not to say that this journey was easy. There were times when I thought I would never graduate, or times when I didn’t even want to graduate. But I have never been more grateful that my parents didn’t listen to me when I asked them to take me home. I can say with my whole heart that graduating from Shelterwood was my greatest accomplishment. God stepped up and gave me the miracle that I needed to turn my life around.
Having gone through this hardship together, my family and I have been a million times closer and have been able to communicate so much better when we have an issue. We still have times where we don’t get along, but we always know that we love each other and that even if we are fighting, we will always be there for each other. If we were able to get through this long battle, I know there is nothing that can tear us apart.
After graduating, I had a hard time transitioning home at first. For a time, I turned back to what I had been like before Shelterwood, and it seemed like nothing had changed. What I didn’t realize is that even though my behaviors might have been similar, it could not have been more different… because I knew that God wanted more for me than depression and anxiety. He wanted to give me a hope and a future. And that’s what helped me get through that relapse.
Today, it has been about two years since I graduated from Shelterwood, and I still think about that period of my life all the time. I know that I am a strong person that can handle what life throws at me. I am thankful for my struggles and experiences because I believe that God redeems all suffering. And because of my struggles, I have been able to share my story and give encouragement to others and hopefully show them that God knows what He is doing, and He will not forsake us.
I came to Shelterwood as a lost freshman, and am now a senior who knows who she is, and who controls her life. Every person who comes into Shelterwood’s program has been given a chance that not many people get. Shelterwood saved my life, and I was able to see countless lives changed for the better, even if they themselves couldn’t see it. My family and I would like to thank Shelterwood for all they have done for us, because without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I am planning to go to Missouri Baptist University next fall, and to major in either Early Education or Special Education.