Redemption: Saved by Love

Sarah Cruz

Have you ever felt like you’ve gone so far that God couldn’t possibly reach you? Melanie thought she was there. She thought she was a lost cause. But when her lifestyle of drugs and alcohol left her facing 14 years in prison, she couldn’t keep herself from crying out to God, “ me.”

Melanie grew up an only child in an emotionally unhealthy home. At the age of 12 she began smoking cigarettes, drinking, doing drugs, and getting involved with boys. Her behavior escalated until her parents finally had enough.

“I was kicked out of the house on my 15th birthday and again on my 16th birthday. I was living at hotels with people 10 years older than me, partying it up.” Melanie was able to clean up enough to graduate from high school. But the desperate search for fulfillment kept biting at her heels.

“I tried to fill that God-shaped hole. I was trying to seek approval because life had been so tough at home. I didn’t know any better. My life was all about escapism, entitlement, selfishness, self loathing, and low self esteem.”

At age 23 Melanie finally pulled it together. She got a job that paid well, and moved to an apartment in Newport Beach. But she fell back into drugs and ended up losing everything and living out of her car for the next two years.

In the depths of the darkness, she had a moment of clarity. “The law finally caught up with me and I was looking at 14 years in prison. I turned to God and begged, ‘God, please . . . help me.’ And that’s when he stepped in.” As part of her sentence, the judge allowed Melanie to do community service at Saddleback Church.

At Saddleback she met women who accepted and loved her. “They witnessed to me where I was at. Those women loved me even though I was raw and my language was rough. Being accepted is what started my journey with Christ. I finally understood that God loved me and that my sins were forgiven. I finally felt redemption.” Melanie has now been sober for more than seven years, is involved with Saddleback’s 20’s/30’s ministry, and is preparing to go on a three-month PEACE trip later this year.