The worst nightmare I ever had was one in which I found myself wandering inside a long tunnel with chains bound so tightly around my wrists that they were bleeding. This tunnel was underground, dark and completely frightening. I sobbed as I searched for a way out, limping from the blisters I had on my bare feet. After what seemed like hours, I finally saw a light coming from the end of the tunnel. I started to head toward it as fast as I could but, when I was about halfway there, I stopped and looked behind me, into the dark. He was there. I stood paralyzed, frozen in fear, as he approached me. He roughly grabbed my hands and said in a low whisper, “He won’t take you back, you don’t belong with Him anymore. You’ll only be mine. You know that.” The tears streamed down my face as I nodded, agreeing with him. I took one last glance at the light behind me and then, with an immense sadness, I walked away from my salvation.

The worst thing about this nightmare was that it wasn’t a nightmare at all; it was real.

Yes, I was one of those girls. One of those girls who was involved in an abusive relationship. With an atheist. I don’t have any bruises or scars on my body, but my heart was scarred in a way I thought would never be able to heal.

No one made me be with him. I was an immature girl in love with the idea of being in love and being loved. When I got the opportunity to experience that, I took it, not caring that he didn’t have a relationship with God. I knew, after a month, that this wasn’t what I wanted. This wasn’t what I had dreamed of. But, when I was about to end it, he filled my ears with sweet words of love, begging me to stay and started crying. So I stayed.

I told myself one of the greatest lies a Christian girl can tell herself: “I can change him. I can bring him to the Lord.” I was a fool.

I thought I would be able to bring him into my faith, into my world, but instead, I was sucked into his world and I turned almost completely away from the Lord.

I partied, skipped church, rebelled against my parents (even threatened to move out) and did things I shouldn’t have ever done.

I had let him become in control of my life. He needed to have control of everything – the way I did my hair, the clothes I wore, the people I hung out with – everything. When he tried to hurt my family, that’s when I realized I needed a way out. But I was trapped. I was in too deep. And no one could help me. I even stopped praying. God wouldn’t listen to a horrible sinner like me. Why would He?

What I was most afraid of if I left him was how he would retaliate. Would he hurt my family? Me? Himself? When I told him I was leaving to college and I wanted to end things, well…let’s just say I almost did end up getting some bruises.

Alumni Sarah Seibert was one of my greatest supports during one of the toughest periods in my life.

Thankfully, he hit the wall instead of me. So I said it would only be a “break.”

During my first couple months at Corban, we tried to keep our relationship. But with every day I spent at Corban, I realized how lost I had been and how desperately I needed to return to God. I had friends, for the first time, who loved God. I had teachers who really cared. I started to see everything in a different light. But I couldn’t be completely free until I eliminated the greatest evil in my life.

That was the hardest night of my life and I hate remembering it. But it was also the greatest night of my life and so I also love remembering it.

I was free. God saved me. He removed those bloody chains and brought me into the light with Him. I had never felt so much freedom, so much happiness. November will always be the best month of the year, for it was the month when I turned my life around and returned to the Lord.

It still makes my heart ache knowing how much God loves me, how much He loves us. He welcomed me with open arms, with so much grace and forgiveness, even though I didn’t deserve it. That is why I am sharing my story; because there may be some of you out there going through a similar situation. Maybe there is so much sin in your life that you feel trapped, that God won’t be able to forgive you. But that is what Satan wants us to think. Because God will forgive us. His arms are outstretched, calling our name, waiting for us to hold onto Him tightly and never let go.

I’m not saying you’ll never sin again; I have fallen many times. But I don’t intend on making the same mistakes twice. And when I start to feel sad because I’m “single,” I metaphorically slap myself and remember that the day I became single again, was one of the greatest moments of my life. Girls (and guys!), I know you hate hearing it but patience really is key. I know it can be hard waiting, but don’t make the same error I did and take the first guy (or girl) who whispers nice words. It can be incredibly frustrating waiting for God’s timing, but God knows what He’s doing. And that’s what keeps me going and what keeps me hoping.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)