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I used to say that when I arrived at Hope4Life 5 years ago I was so broken. That is only half the truth. The truth is, I was broken long before I even set one foot inside that beautiful place.

I knew nothing of codependency, mother wounds, father wounds, false self or true self." When I walked into Hope4Life's main room for the very first time, I had two black eyes and a broken nose (SCARS).

I had been beaten most of my life by my older brother and all of my boyfriends, so to me it was normal, but this beating was different. I was caught off guard, my hair was grabbed and instantly my head was repeatedly smashed into a door, so I was unable to defend myself. The next thing I knew I was in a choke hold around my face covering my eyes. I was squeezed so hard I literally heard the bone in my nose SNAP. I’ll never forget that sound for as long as I live.

At that time, my boss invited me to come to Hope4Life. He said, “I have a place that I think can help you.” I was so overwhelmed I declined the invitation more than once, maybe even three times. Finally, I agreed to go, but only to show appreciation to someone who was trying to help me and was very persistent. My plan was to go once and never return again, so I finally and gracefully accepted his invite. Well, God laughed at that and said, “you take a seat right down here my daughter, I have a gift for you.” The speakers and guests that came to speak that day came to tell their story and never returned again. After declining the invitation over three weeks, I realized those people were the ones who I was meant to hear speak on that life-changing and faithful day.

"I was wondering, “Where am I? What is this place?”

As my heart was connecting to their every word, I was wondering, “Where am I? What is this place?” The divine appointment was on that one very specific day, one that God had planned so I could hear this particular message, made just for me. I was meant to hear their story because it was my story! The only difference was, they were men. I heard incredible things. Pain —and I mean a lot of pain— began to stir up inside of me. It was so scary because you see, I thought in my head I was pretty okay, aside from my visible scars. What I failed to realize was that I was filled with inner scars as well. I wasn’t the problem, or so I thought. I quickly realized that the scars I carried were both present on the inside as well as the noticeable ones on the outside.

At that point in my life, I had been walking with the Lord for twelve years. I was twelve years in church, twelve years clean in my recovery program, had worked all twelve of my steps. I thought I was healed, and that my boyfriend just beat me up. Nothing’s wrong with me, he’s the crazy one! Little did I know I was about to learn things about myself I had never heard nor thought of, ever!

God used my scars and began stirring things up inside me. I was weeping and sobbing like never before. I looked around for the leader (Giovanna). I was astounded and had to ask, “What is going on here?” “What’s happening to me?” I had no clue. She replied “That, my dear is undealt-with pain.” I said, “Can’t be!” I had put in a lot of work over the years and was dumbfounded at how my body was reacting. “This cannot be,” I thought to myself.

When I got home my daughter took one look at me and said, “Oh my God Mom, you’re worse! Don’t ever go back to that place again.” I looked like a wreck from all the crying. I looked straight into her eyes and said, “I know this looks really bad, but something inside of me is telling me I belong there, I feel something different in that place.”

something inside of me is telling me I belong here, I feel something different in this place.”

The next time I was to return to Hope4Life for the weekly group meetings —my second time only— I was terrified! I mean to return to that "scary" place that had flipped my mind into feeling things I didn’t even know existed! I was extremely nervous as to what kind of pain would come up this time so needless to say I was afraid to go back, but I knew deep in my soul the answer lied there in that place. I remember I sat down on my bed getting ready to go to the group. I didn’t know these people or what was happening at that time. I started screaming as loud as I could. All I could do was run for a pen and paper and in ten minutes this is what came out.

Clear liquid that drips from my eyes,

I’m asking my father to hear my cries.

A pain so deep cant dig it out,

despite my efforts, I scream and shout!

I put on a smile to hide my secret,

but it’s getting too heavy, too heavy to keep it.

Depression, darkness, and despair,

three of the things I always wear.

Deep inside I’m dying slowly,

I’ll let you in so you can know me.

The real me that hides in the dark,

dancing with light, seeking a spark

No one would guess this is who I am,

pressing it down as fast as I can.

But here I sit in all of my fear,

hoping that God is catching my tears.

Take it away please Heavenly Father,

cries from your broken but loving daughter.

Thank you, Father God, for using my scars to bring me to this beautiful place that renews my heart and spirit each and every day. Today I have so many tools, knowledge, and how to walk this Earth with minimal scars, and since my journey there began back in 2016, I have not been hit once!!! Not one single time!

Thank you, Father, for choosing Lakhi and Giovanna Dadlani to represent Jesus to all of us, and for walking this journey of healing beside us. Not in front, and defiantly not behind, but beside us.

Today, I am not hopeless, nor am I in that deep dark place I was then when that poem was first written five years ago. I am not who I was before; I live in a peaceful and very loving place that is filled with the light and sparks I had written about earlier, the one’s I had been seeking for so many years. Today they are fully present and visible thanks to my Hope4Life family. A fresh new life is restored inside of me and my soul every single day.

“My brokenness brought me to you, and these wounds are a story you’ll use.

So, I’m thankful for my scars, for without them I wouldn’t know your heart.

I know they’ll always tell of who you are, so forever I am thankful for my scars.

Lord, in your hands and feet I found my victory, so, I’m thankful for “your” scars,

and with my life I’ll forever tell of who you are!”

-I Am They

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