Periodically we read stories that tell us how the grace of God is operating in many lives. The story you are about to read is such an experience of a young woman who found God after going through her own crucifixion. Her story is inspirational. I hope you find that this inspiration helps you also.
My name is Shannon, I'm thirty-three years old, and I am more than happy to share my story with you. Today, after an 18 year battle with alcoholism, drug addiction, and anorexia-bulimia, through the grace of God and the Community I feel reborn, clean, and at peace with myself.
I have finally found the answers I had been seeking to solve my problems. I had to leave myself and all of the people and things that were important to me and turn to God. This has been the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my life, and it has only been through the love, patience and silence of the Community and Sister Elvira's teachings that I realize the precious gift that life is and the true beauty it is to be a woman.
I come from a very good family and I was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. My father is a hard working, very successful Irish-Catholic dentist who provided above and beyond for us girls. My mother a Southern Methodist woman of strong faith who worked hard at keeping a beautiful home for us and dedicated her time to our needs and to her church. She has also been there for me every step of the way and has been my inspiration.
As a young child I was diagnosed with learning disabilities; therefore, school was always a challenge for me. I never wanted to go because I was filled with fear, and I was ashamed because I didn't learn the normal things the other kids did. To feel a part of "the crowd" I became a people pleaser, doing things that I knew were not good to feel accepted. This continued throughout my life.
At the age of fourteen my serious trouble with anorexia and depression began. The evil ways of the world had seduced me and I began to chase my desires and follow the crowd. The disease of alcoholism and drug addiction had me in its web. I lied, stole and cheated whomever I could to fill my needs because I didn't want to suffer, I didn't want to feel any source of pain. My parents, as wonderful as they are, never wanted me to suffer from their mistakes, and I learned to use this against them to get what I wanted. The more wrong I did, the more my conscience spoke to me. To silence it I began to drink and take many different types of pills.
Because I had become a slave to fashion, I took many amphetamines and worked out in the gym obsessively to achieve the perfect body. Anything not to feel was the way I lived my life. At the age of twenty-three I started to look for help, this began the endless search of hospitals, rehabs, AA meetings and psychiatry.
The periods that I was somewhat okay were when I was praying, but some situation would always lead me to a relapse. This went on for some time. My life was a lie and I pretended to be strong, confident and courageous, but really inside I was scared, and I didn't know who I was. After a life shattering relapse, and the consequences of this destroying me and my family, I entered the Community with the help and love of my family and three very special friends who loved me enough and believed in me when I couldn't believe in myself. I agreed to give a try for six months. It has now been two years.
I've decided to stay because of the true changes I have seen taking place in my life and for the simplicity of the life here that I feel one needs for true healing to take place. My journey in the Community has been very difficult, and there have been many moments when I have wanted to pack my bags and go home. But I stay and, when I reflect on why I want to go, it's because I want to run away from the suffering and because all of my life I have limited myself. So I stay and I fight, and I overcome the obstacles of limiting myself, and I grow.
I have learned in prayer to listen to the voice that speaks so gently in my heart, and I believe this is the voice of the Holy Spirit that speaks in our conscience. I've learned through sacrifice, discipline, and consistency in everyday living that my heart has opened up and its wounds continue to be healed. The beautiful gift of Community is that it is truly a school of life that prepares you for tomorrow, that every difficulty and suffering is healing and growth. I have learned the importance of prayer, to listen to the people whom today I call my sisters and brothers, to know that it's okay to make mistakes, that I'm not perfect, that God loves me for who I am today not yesterday.
I feel today that my life was truly saved, and it's been an incredible opportunity to open the house here in Medjugorje with this special group of people, and to witness the resurrection of the young girls who have come here and who will continue to come to Community. Words cannot express the changes that have taken place in my heart. I can only say I finally took the hand of the Blessed Mother that she has offered to me for so long, and I feel her walking with me from the life of solitude and darkness and into the light of love and the real life.
I want to ask for forgiveness to my family and friends for all the pain I put you through and give thanks for all of your love, encouragement and prayers. I want to give special thanks to everybody in the Community, to Stefano, and to you Elvira for your patience, kindness, love, and understanding, for I have been given the gift of life.
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