When we left the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area, we headed to Nashville, TN. It was so sad seeing so much tornado devastation as we were driving into Nashville. I have personally experienced the destruction of a tornado, as a tree came crashing into my bedroom as a child, but I have never seen damage as bad as we saw in Nashville.
We absolutely love Nashville, and it is a place I personally cherish. When I was 20 years old, I was stuck in a pit of hopelessness and despair. About 5 years earlier, I developed an eating disorder. As an addiction, it took control of my life. No matter how much I wanted, prayed and pleaded to be free from the eating disorder, I couldn’t seem to find the way out. The longer I lived with the eating disorder, the more guilt and shame I felt, and the more depressed I became. At my lowest, rock bottom, I heard of a place called Mercy Ministries (now called Mercy Multiplied). At the time, it was known as a home for troubled girls. I thought, “I just have this eating disorder I need help with, but I am not a troubled girl.” Ha. Oh, how little did I know or understand.
I promised a friend I’d pray about going, so I did. I prayed, “God, I am not going. If you want me to go, please change my mind.” I spent the next couple hours searching every bit of Mercy’s website, and by the end of my search, I was determined to go. I read testimony after testimony of girls and women being set free from addictions, childhood trauma and other things. I just knew in my gut that if I got to go to this place, God would set me free.
I went through the application process, was accepted and was placed on a waiting list. Mercy Multiplied is a free-of-charge residential counseling program that helps young women ages 13-32 break free from life-controlling issues and situations. It was hard waiting, but after four months I got a call that there was a spot for me.
I walked through the doors of Mercy’s beautiful Nashville home a very insecure, depressed, broken down girl. I spent the next most impactful six months of my life there. I learned that eating disorders have roots and that I had to deal with the root in order to overcome it. We all have childhood pain that is so easy to carry into adulthood in various ways if not recognized. I fearfully and vulnerably opened up my life, my past, my present and my pain. I let God heal me. I realized that I was a very troubled girl AND that I was a very loved girl. In my darkest places, in my pain, in my own regretful poor decisions and in my hopelessness, God loved me. ME. Even me. As much as I already knew He loved me, this really blew my mind and wrecked my heart in the best kind of way.
I spent those six months learning what God thinks of me, how to renew my mind, how to go to God with my pain rather than addiction, why it’s important to forgive, how to receive healing…and then doing those things. I got to know some of the most precious women, many of who I still consider dear friends today. I began experiencing so much joy during that season, I could hardly contain it. I loved life and living. And I had hope. A deep-rooted hope.
I walked out of the doors of Mercy a bold, free, healed and whole woman. The theme of my heart at that time was 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” And still, this is the theme of my life and the song of my heart.
As I’ve lived more life, I have needed more healing and wholeness along the way. I have experienced the pain of life – pain inflicted by others, pain over choices I wish I’d made differently, pain of loss, pain of unfulfilled dreams. But that deep-rooted hope God instilled in me during my time at Mercy has remained, and I’m so thankful to have tools to use for moving forward through difficult situations. Not that it’s ever easy, but I am forever grateful nonetheless.
While we were in Nashville, we visited Mercy Multiplied. We just love Nancy Alcorn, the founder of Mercy Multiplied. I was so happy to see her and introduce her to our kids she had not yet met. Of course, she was especially excited to meet our 6-year-old daughter, Mercy, who I was pregnant with last time we visited.
We toured the corporate office and the home where I lived over 16 years ago. The memories of freedom, healing and discovering how deeply loved by God I am flooded me and brought great joy to my soul. We got to meet some of the current residents, and I couldn’t help but smile so big knowing the beauty they’d experience and the great hope each has for her present and future.
Mercy Multiplied is so near and dear to my heart, and I love that the mercy I experienced at Mercy Multiplied gets to be multiplied right before my eyes everyday in my children. ♥️