He Brought Me from Darkness | A Story of Hope

Written By: Sierra Okoniewski


October 24, 2023

Be Advised: The following contains true events regarding attempted suicide and sexual assault.

Emma is a lovely, down-to-earth young woman — warm and slightly shy with a wide, genuine smile. I met her for the first time at a small Corktown coffee shop after we’d spent a few weeks chatting about her story via email. As we sat together, she told me that she had always believed in God and had attended church from a very young age with her parents.

“Growing up, I feared God, but not in the right ways,” Emma said. “I felt like He was angry at everybody for sinning all the time. I felt like He had His favorites, and if you weren’t following the rules of the church, you would be punished or viewed differently. I lost touch with wanting to have a relationship with God because I thought it was just rules. I never understood the Bible; I never understood what the gospel actually meant. So, going into my teenage years, I was like, ‘Well, I’ll just live my own way.’”

Just a few years later, while Emma was still in high school, she was sexually assaulted by her boyfriend in front of a group of his friends.

“That’s the start of me blaming God for everything,” she said. “I was like, ‘Why did you let this happen?’ I still believed He existed. I just thought maybe He didn’t like me, maybe He hated me, or that it was because I went away from Him that this stuff happened. Then I got into a different relationship with one of my best friends. He helped me a lot after my ex-boyfriend, so marrying him felt right to me. He believed in God, but we weren’t in the Word; we weren’t part of a church or anything like that.”

Emma and her husband were married in 2018. The couple tried to have a child, but they soon discovered that Emma had fertility issues. This led to rounds of unsuccessful pregnancy treatments and an increased strain on their relationship.

“Of course, I was blaming God again,” Emma said. “With all of that, I lost myself really bad in my marriage. We stopped trying for a baby and it just kept going downhill from there. I’m not going to say I was the best wife, but I tried and did everything that I thought I could. And it’s unfortunate how it ended — with him being unfaithful. He kind of gave up quickly. That’s where I got to my lowest, was after the divorce. It brought me into a deeper point where I didn’t want anything to do with life anymore.”

“I felt really bad about myself,” she continued. “I looked at love in a horrible way, thinking that if nobody in this world could love me, then God couldn’t love me either. I let a lot of people access my body, which pushed me to feel like that was the only reason that I was worth being here. I started to self-harm in places nobody could see because I wanted the pain to go away. I didn’t talk to my friends or my family. I didn’t want to tell them what I was going through. And that’s how I let those thoughts get to me.”

Eight months after her divorce, Emma attempted — and failed — to end her life in her home.

“After it didn’t work, I didn’t have thoughts of trying it again,” she said. “It was odd because prior to that, wanting to end my life was an everyday thing. That’s when I felt like I actually had a purpose to be here. After realizing maybe that was why He didn’t let it happen, I started to seek Him more. There was no way I couldn’t surrender my life to God after He saved me. That’s why I gave my life to Him, and everything changed after that.”

As Emma began to understand how much God valued her, she began looking for a church. After hearing about Woodside from a friend, she visited the Plymouth campus and quickly fell in love with the church family that welcomed her there.

“I stopped doing a lot of things,” she said. “Smoking, seeking validation from men, cussing. I definitely felt like I was chained to all the things that I used to do, but God freed me from everything. Forgiveness freed me from everything. If anything, I pray for [my ex-boyfriend] now. I pray for my ex-husband — I forgave him as well. I just felt like it wasn’t worth being so angry and having so much hate in my heart because God was carrying me the whole time without me even knowing.”

Emma was baptized on Easter Sunday, 2023 in front of her family and new church community, where she shared her testimony publicly for the first time.

“I just wanted to show everybody how great God is and how He changed me to who I am now,” she said. “I used to think Christians are perfect, but that’s not the case whatsoever. And no matter how far you have fallen, He will pick you back up. I almost didn’t tell my story when I got baptized, but I felt God put it on my heart to tell people who are battling depression that they’re not alone. In my testimony, I quoted a song. It was like, ‘You brought me from darkness into glorious light.’ And I’ve never been to that darkness ever again after finding Him. So how could I not give my life to Him now?”

Thank You Jesus for the Blood | Song by Charity Gayle

Thank you, Jesus, for the blood applied;
Thank you, Jesus, it has washed me white;
Thank you, Jesus, You have saved my life;
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light.