Testimony of the Month
My name is Carnene Gay and, as a victim of domestic violence, I was ready to fight when I came to the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake. I figured all the other people at the Rescue Mission's Women's Facility would be as mean, nasty and scared as I had learned to be. But when I entered the New Life Program on Oct. 2, 2013, I was surprised.
It wasn't anything like the warzone I had come to expect in places I lived. Instead, it was peaceful and serene, and I finally felt safe. I started sleeping at night--something I hadn't done in years--and I started to feel less scared.
Still, I had issues. When I first arrived, I hoarded food. I would slip a slice of bread into my pocket or wait until everyone was asleep to sneak food from the refrigerator. I was used to being hungry and not having enough to eat, so I felt like I needed to save food, just in case.
But gradually I started to trust that all my needs--including food--would be taken care of.
For the first few weeks, I thought everyone was a bunch of Bible-thumping hypocrites. I knew they were sinners, just like I was, but they were always walking around, saying "the Bible this, the Bible that" or "God this and God that."
But a funny thing happened. About two months after coming to the Rescue Mission, I started appreciating the Bible. While I initially thought our Bible studies were way too long, I became disappointed when they ended. I wanted them to go longer.
I started really believing in God and that the Bible could help me stay sober. I realized that you didn't need to be perfect to talk about the Bible or study it. Instead, these were the words you needed if you wanted to change your life.
About that same time, I began to feel that I had a voice. Being in an abusive relationship for so long, I felt like my opinions, feelings and thoughts didn't matter. But at the Rescue Mission, people were interested in what I had to say.
The sessions I had with my counselor, Cyndi Harris, might have been the toughest part of the New Life Program, but also the most necessary. When we first talked, I just said things that were sort of cliché, but Cyndi challenged me. She told me that I was being superficial and not admitting my real hurts. We had many heated discussions over several months, until I finally started to open up and be real with her. Being real and talking about my true emotions and pains really helped me to move past them.
So besides blessing me with food, a warm bed and a safe place to live, the Rescue Mission gave me the great group Bible studies I needed to start a real relationship with God and the one-on-one counseling I needed to achieve forgiveness and healing in my heart. They also gave me an awesome new friend.
I was assigned a Community Mentor named Barbara Peterson. She meets with me once a week. We go out to eat, get coffee or just go for a drive. She will even attend recovery meetings, like AA, with me. I finally feel like I have a special friend that I don't have to share with anyone. That's been incredibly important to me.
The Rescue Mission staff has also connected me with the Fourth Street Clinic, where I go to get medical help. I praise God because the workers at the Fourth Street Clinic helped me get surgery on my hand, without which I couldn't work. I had the surgery at Intermountain Medical Center at no cost to me, and now my hand, which I couldn't use very well before, feels great.
Ready To Work
So in August, when I had nearly 10 months of sobriety in my pocket, I was ready to move to the part of the New Life Program where I would find a job and start supporting myself. This was important to me. For most of my life, I had been a stay-at-home mom or depended on my husband to take care of me financially. Now, as part of breaking away from domestic violence, I needed to be independent, including financially.
Looking for work made me more anxious than anything else. At 50 years old, I had no computer skills and a spotty employment history. Initially, I applied for positions that I really had no chance of getting. I went for jobs where you needed good computer skills or other abilities I didn't have. I figured if I was hired, I would just fake it until I learned what I needed to do. But that didn't work out. Still, the Rescue Mission was there to encourage me and help me find a job. I looked at all the other women in the New Life Program who had successfully found work and started to believe that I could do it too.
Finally, I secured the perfect job for me. Since I had spent my life around the house, making beds and cleaning up after my six kids, I had a lot of experience in housekeeping. So, I got a good job at a downtown hotel working for a high-end national chain. I get paid well and even have benefits. Additionally, my company has hotels all over the U.S. and the world, allows its employees to transfer to other locations and provides good opportunities to move up within the company.
I feel like God blessed me with the ideal job. My goal is to graduate from the New Life Program in April and move out into my own apartment. I have never had an apartment of my own and it's exciting to think about it. That's really one of the best things that the New Life Program has given me--the ability to dream again.
Before, I didn't dream at all; now I daydream all the time. I imagine decorating my apartment. I was even given a red and white toaster for Christmas that will match the color scheme I am going for when I move out into my own place.
A Big Change
I feel like a new person in almost every way: physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. If you had seen me in October of 2013, you wouldn't believe I am the same person. Back then, I was beaten down by a lifetime of abuses. I grew up moving a lot as my mother bounced around between seven different marriages. Some of the men she married abused my siblings and me physically, mentally and sexually.
When I grew up, my life patterned my mother. I had six kids (the first was born when I was just 16) and went through three marriages. My husbands were abusive as well, and I regularly drank alcohol just to try and get through the day. We were always poor and sometimes didn't have enough to make ends meet.
On August 5, 2013, something happened that God used to change my life. My husband and I were in a fight and he began to attack me. I grabbed a kitchen knife and held it out as he lunged towards me. As he grabbed me, the knife cut his arm and he called the police. While I felt that I was just defending myself, the authorities charged me with assault.
I spent a few weeks in jail and when I was released, I eventually came to live at the Rescue Mission. I didn't want to go back to the abusive relationship I was in and had no other place to go. I had to pay a $200 fine, do 75 hours of community service and finish the New Life Program as part of my sentencing.
As I get ready to complete the program, please pray for me. I am not going back to my husband, and some of my children struggle with addictions, as my mother and I have. Please pray that I would continue to build healthy relationships and that maybe some of my familial relationships could be healed by my children achieving sobriety.
I will say that God has blessed me with a good start on new relationships. I have a great church family at Capitol Church. People at Capitol accept me and care about me. I have never really felt part of a community the way I do there.
I want to thank all the supporters of the Rescue Mission. I know it has taken a lot--free food, free shelter, free counseling, free friendship, free medical care, and so much more--to save my life. I know that none of this would be available without your support. So thank you! Thank you for giving me the freedom to daydream again!
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