Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
Self Portrait: Chris on June 2, 2017

Sunday, April 19, 2015

From Divorce, Alcohol, Sexual Assault, and Depression To Victory In Jesus Christ


Christal Cooper

Article 1,620 Words


Guest Blogger Kary Symons Green
“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Gives Me Strength”
Philippians 4:13

When I was a child I believed in God. But I thought of Him as a person that kept a record of what I did wrong and judged me for it. I wasn’t raised in a church and God wasn’t something we talked about in my house. But I always sensed there was “a God up there.”  I just didn’t really know Him.



I was a happy child. I was the kid that was always singing, dancing and goofing around to try and make other people laugh. I had several friends and I was involved in social activities and sports.


But my world changed significantly when I was 9 years old. My parents decided to separate and a year later, they were divorced. My family and my home was my security, and it had become broken.


My parents had what I would describe as a quiet divorce. Once they were apart, they never fought in front of my sister and me, and they never spoke badly of each other. But I always believed I had something to do with why they broke up. I thought that if I had been a better daughter maybe they would still be together. Although my parents continually told me that it was not my fault, I never believed them. I didn’t know how to deal with my feelings, so I became an insecure girl who felt worthless. Interestingly, when I was 11 years old, my parents got back together and remarried.  Things at home seemed better but I still did not feel good about who I was.  I began to look for things outside of myself to make me feel better.


At 12 years old I began drinking alcohol. At 14 years old I began smoking marijuana and dating. I didn’t want to deal with my feelings. I just wanted the pain to go away. I began hanging out with people who also had low self-esteem, drank, drugged and engaged in illegal activities.


During this time, at 14 years old, I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance. This experience was so traumatic for me that I blocked it out of my memory for several years. I always knew something bad had happened that day, but I could not remember all the details. This was just the beginning of several unhealthy relationships for me.


In high school, I appeared to be happy and healthy. I was labeled as the popular, attractive girl who was athletic and funny. I hid behind my jokes and laughter, but the truth was I felt empty inside. I felt like I was worthless.  I didn’t like who I was and I had no self-confidence. There was a hole in my heart that I tried to fill with so many things: alcohol, marijuana, illegal activities, boyfriends, tennis and friends. Nothing worked. I still felt empty inside. I had all of these people and activities in my life, but I felt so alone.


After high school, I attended college where I played tennis on the tennis team, joined a sorority, worked part time and enjoyed going to the beach. College was where my alcohol use became completely out of control. My life had become very self-destructive. It was almost like I purposely did things to hurt myself. I had several underage drinking incidents and got a DWI. With zero coping skills, I could not deal with the problems in my life. Alcohol became the solution. (Not a good solution but it was my solution.) 


One semester away from college graduation, I began wondering what I was going to do with my life. With no plan, I became depressed. At that same time, my home life was a wreck. My parents divorced again, and this second divorce hit me even harder than the first. This time I was old enough to know what was really going on. I became extremely angry, and I internalized that anger. I withdrew from everything and my negative self-talk became the only voice I heard. My parents sent me to a psychiatrist, who put me on anti-depressant medication. I thought I was going crazy. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t control my thoughts and why I felt so worthless.  


My depression was spiraling out of control and at 21 years old, I attempted suicide. I knew I couldn’t continue to live the way I was living, so I thought death was the only answer. I ended up staying in the hospital for six weeks. This was the darkest time in my life. I remember lying in my hospital bed crying out to God, begging Him to just let me die. It was just too hard.  I didn’t want to live anymore.


During this time, I did a lot of journaling. I remember doodling “Jesus Christ” and drawing a cross. I wondered who He was. I wanted to meet Him in person. I wanted to be in heaven.


Eventually we found a medication that kept me stable. I was released from the hospital and I continued to see a psychiatrist but I would not quit drinking. Not until I was arrested for a DWI and was being held at the police station against my will, did I finally realize I needed to quit drinking. I couldn’t do it anymore. Something had to change because my life was a mess. I made the decision to go to a recovery program, and my journey of healing began.


After being sober for two years, I began working for a substance abuse facility and counseling teenagers. Working with those kids kept me sober and helped me learn how to deal with my problems. At this job I met another counselor, John. He was a wonderful Christian man, who loved the Lord and had a peace in his eyes.  I wanted that peace. After group therapy on Thursday nights, I would ask John questions about God and the Bible. We would stay late and just talk about God.  John would take out his Bible and say, “Let’s see what the Bible says about that.”  He never forced the Bible or God on me. John just answered my questions and often left me wanting more information. I wanted to know what John knew. I wanted to know God. I wanted a relationship with God. John encouraged me to find a church and I did.


One night I gave John a ride home from work, and he shared the gospel with me. He asked me if I wanted to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My exact words were, “I don’t know who Jesus Christ is. I’m going to read the Bible and get back to you.” I think this is hilarious now, but that was exactly what I did. I read the entire Bible and attended church. Every Sunday I would go to church late, sit in the back pew, cry during the entire service and then leave.


God was working on my heart. He wanted a relationship with me. He wanted me to know that He had forgiven me for all of my sins and was not judging me. He wanted me to allow Him to love me. There was a spiritual battle going on inside of me. Despite what I read in the Bible and heard at church, I still could not believe that God could forgive me for everything I had done. I didn’t feel worthy of His love and forgiveness.


God never gave up on me. He constantly worked on my heart and eventually helped me to get to a place where I was willing to let Him in. On February 23, 1997, I accepted the wonderful gift of salvation and asked Jesus Christ into my life and my heart.  It happened one Sunday after church.  I went up to the minister and said, ”I am lost. I need Jesus Christ in my life.” We went to his office and I prayed the prayer of salvation. I was so excited! I called my family and close friends to tell them I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and that I was a Christian. I was so happy. That hole in my heart was finally filled - filled with the love of Christ.


This is what accepting Jesus Christ as my savior means to me:  I believe God had a son, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life on this earth for 33 years. He chose to die on a cross as a sacrifice for all of the world’s sin, including my sins. Three days after His death, God raised Him out of the grave and He was alive. He stayed on earth for forty days; then He ascended to heaven where He is today. His spirit, known as the Holy Spirit, lives in anyone who chooses to believe in Jesus Christ and what He did. I made that decision to believe in Jesus Christ and live my life for Him.
Today I am happy, healthy and sober. In October 2015 I will celebrate 20 years of sobriety. I am proud of that.  I am continually growing in my relationship with Christ. Becoming a Christian never makes anyone perfect. I am not perfect. I still struggle with judging myself, negative self-talk, believing in myself, depression, and how to handle certain relationships in my life. God is still working on me. But I know I am not alone. Christ is always with me. I believe I am worthy of forgiveness and love. I don’t feel worthless anymore. The greatest comfort to me is knowing that Christ loves me just the way I am.



Photograph Description And Copyright Information

Photo 1
Kary Symons Green
Photographed by Christal Rice Cooper
Copyright granted by Kary Symons Green and Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 2
God The Father
Attributed to Ludovico Mazzdina (1480-1528)
Public Domain

Photo 3
Girls At The Piano, 1892
Attributed to Pierre-Auguste Renoir 02/25/1842 – 12/03/1919
Public Domain

Photo 4
Logo of how divorce harms children
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 5
Kary Symons Green
Photographed by Christal Rice Cooper
Copyright granted by Kary Symons Green and Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 6
Brick woman
Web logo photo for Melody of Light Psychology
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 7
The Bruised Rose
Hand modeled by Janlyn Diggs
Photographed by Christal Rice Cooper
Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper and Janlyn Diggs

Photo 8
The Woman Alone
Attributed to James Tissot 10/15/1836 – 08/08/1902
Public Domain

Photo 9
Logo photo of the bad effects of alcohol on women
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright law

Photo 10
The Magdalene
Lady Hamilton as Mary Magdalene
Attributed to George Romney (1734 – 1832)
Public Domain

Photo 11
Web logo photo depicting the brain of suicidal individuals
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 12
Journals
Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 13
The Healing Sea  
Mackinaw Island
Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 14
Kary Symons Green
Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper and Kary Symons Green

Photo 15
Woman crying and praying in the church pew.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 16
The Prince of Peace – Jesus  
Attributed to Akiane
Copyright granted by Akiane

Photo 17
Kary Symons Green wearing the Faith ring and the three cross necklace
Photographed by Christal Rice Cooper
Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper and Kary Symons Green

Photo 18
Kary Symons Green reading her Bible against a tree
Photographed by Christal Rice Cooper
Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 19
Kary Symons Green
Photographed by Christal Rice Cooper
Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper


2 comments:

  1. Wonderful reading how God transformed your life. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete