From Abandoned to Accepted | A Story of Hope

Written By: Sierra Okoniewski


April 26, 2023

Sometimes, our pursuit of Christ is anything but straightforward. As we learn to navigate our humanness — a lifelong process — we will inevitably wrestle with deep pain. But God remains unmovable and sits with us when we reach the bitter end of ourselves. In those moments when we’ve lost every indication of our worth, we are still worthwhile to Him. In the darkest hours of our soul, there is still hope with Him.

Nicki has lived this firsthand. In her early twenties, she began drinking heavily. Later, Nicki started frequenting the party scene with her then-boyfriend, who was both physically and verbally abusive. The two of them began experimenting with different drugs.

“That relationship was the start of my rock bottom,” Nicki said. “It was a really toxic relationship, and I turned to alcohol even more because of it. We had a nasty breakup, which caused me to drink even more. I had a pill addiction for years and marijuana — I drank excessively to the point of blacking out or vomiting. There was no in-between.”

Following the breakup, Nicki felt her life spiral out of control. She thought about suicide often, and frequently prayed for the strength to take her life. To take her mind off her depression, she would often party and drink late into the night with her friends, then get up early in the morning to start her shifts at work.

“I was making bad choices, hanging out with the wrong people, and I had no respect for myself or what I was doing,” she said. “I was getting up for work one morning, still so drunk from the night before. And my mom was just like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I’m like, ‘Nothing. I’m getting ready for work.’ She just hugged me and said, ‘I wish my daughter was happy.’ And for some reason, that just hit me so hard.”

That day, Nicki couldn’t shake the realization of how miserable she was. She left work early, called her cousin (who was 18 years sober at the time), and said, “I need to quit drinking. What do I do?” Later that evening, Nicki attended her first AA meeting.

“I started to pray again,” she said. “I started to feel better; I was working these steps in AA. It was a struggle staying sober at first, but it was also the greatest feeling ever. I was figuring out the reasons why I drank in the first place and why I was trying to escape my mind so much. But I didn’t have a relationship with God like I should have. I thought I did, but I had no idea.”

Through mutual friends, Nicki met someone new and began dating again. A few months into their relationship, she discovered that she was pregnant. When the father found out, he disappeared.

“He was gone,” she said. “That was a big turning point for me — this was a guy that was madly in love with me, head over heels. He blocked me, and I went through my entire pregnancy alone and depressed. After I had my daughter, he still wasn’t in the picture. It was brief conversations on the phone, a little bit of money, but I was doing it alone.”

During this time, Nicki began attending services at Woodside Royal Oak. When she gave birth to her daughter, the campus started a meal train to support her.

“It was just a great thing that happened for me at that time,” she said. “I got to see that, ‘Wow, these people at church don’t even know me — I don’t know any of these people, and they’re showing up at my door with food and diapers.’”

As a newly single mom, Nicki frequently worked weekends at her hospital job. The weight of her schedule and responsibilities as a mother drew her focus away from regularly attending church. When her daughter was three, Nicki started dating a man she met through a coworker.

“I was drawn to the fact that he interacted so much with my daughter,” she said. “And that’s what I fell for. I was just like, ‘Oh, I’ll finally have a father for my daughter.’ So, we dated for a short time, and I happened to get pregnant again. He said that everything would be different, that he would never put me through what the last guy did.”

But six weeks later, the father of Nicki’s second child started seeing someone else.

“It was like a total gut punch,” she said. “Now I had to go through [another] pregnancy alone, but this time, I had a toddler to take care of.”

Midway through her second pregnancy, Nicki and her daughter moved from Royal Oak to a neighborhood in Chesterfield. A few months after her son was born, they began attending the Woodside Chesterfield campus just a few minutes from their front door.

“And I just felt this urge when I went there,” Nicki said, “It was like God was telling me to dive right in. Every group they had, I joined. It was a slow process, but I started making friendships with people. I was scared to share my story. I just kept thinking, ‘These people are going to judge me and think that I’m a terrible person.’ Then I started to learn, ‘Oh, I’m not the only one with this crazy past.’”

As Nicki grew in her relationship with her new church family, she still wrestled with depression and hatred for her son’s father. Even as she prayed, she couldn’t let go of her anger.

“My son’s father came back into the picture once he was born,” she said. “It was like torture, because now I had to share my new baby with this woman he left me for. I started opening up to the ladies at my Bible study about it — telling them that I hated my ex. And being vulnerable with them started to help. These ladies were praying for me all the time. They just kept assuring me, ‘Time will heal this; just keep praying. Come to us as you need us; don’t try to do this yourself.’ And even though it was a couple of years process, I eventually got to the point where I didn’t have hate for them anymore. Now, I’m praying for them in their own struggles.”

Nicki decided to get baptized and has attended Woodside Chesterfield with her two children for nearly five years. She has developed a friendship with her daughter’s stepmom, and both women spend time praying for and supporting each other. Nicki is being mentored by trusted people at church, still meets with her Bible study group, attends therapy, and is equipping her kids to pray on their own — and trust God’s timing for their lives.

“I just noticed the changes,” Nicki said. “I’m in the Word more now. [My relationship with God] is stronger than it’s ever been. The more involved I got, the more I opened up to God about my sin and things I need to be forgiven for. I feel like I have constant communication with God now, for everything. As hard as some trials may be going forward, I know I’m going to be able to get through them. God’s just given me so much hope for what’s to come.”

Editor’s Note: If you are struggling with the hurts and habits of addiction, we want you to know we have ministries and programs to help you find freedom not only from addiction but also the freedom that is found in Jesus Christ. Click here to learn more and to get in touch with us.