Even a year ago I couldn’t imagine sharing my testimony, but God has been too good for me to hold back. My name is Kelsey Mitchum. I’m 20 years old from Anderson, South Carolina, and this is my story.

As many children, I grew up captivated by stories, told by my mom, told in movies, and told at church. I was wasn’t just in love with princess stories, but stories of underdogs had my heart. As odd as it sounds my favorite story was The hunchback of Notre Dame, and later on Edward Scissorhands. I loved them because they were different, and I wanted to be their friend.

This carried over into how I met Jesus. I was six and I kept hearing about Jesus at church. He seemed different, too. I heard the story of Him going to the cross when He didn’t deserve it. I heard how He treated people. But one day His story wasn’t just a story to me anymore.

On Super Bowl Sunday 2003 at six years old I realized Jesus could be my personal savior. I was at a super bowl party at my pastor’s house with my family, and many others. I shot up the stairs heart pounding because I knew I wanted to follow Jesus and ask Him to live in my heart. I tapped my mom on the shoulder and told her what was going on. And that night I told God I realized I am a sinner, Jesus is Lord, and I want to live life with Him. And where my real life started.

No, my circumstances didn’t get easier. In fact, they got worse and quickly. Fast forward seven years and what I thought to be my world was falling apart. My brother, three years my elder, was headed into the tenth grade and a major drug addiction. My parents who I imagined were perfect were barreling ahead into a divorce. Everything dark was coming to light, as scripture promises. I felt like I had a rug pulled from under me.

At thirteen, I was dealing with things most kids my age didn’t know about. The truth is I wasn’t actually dealing with them at all.  I kept suppressing everything. I pushed, pushed, pushed everything down deep into my soul. I was a seventh-grader who wanted to have perfect grades and a normal life. So I hide.

Even then when I had no clue what to do God continued to show me hope. A verse He used to speak to me was Ecclesiastes 3:11. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” What this means is we’re made for forever. It also means God doesn’t see time the same way we do. In fact, He holds it all. He has a plan and He is able to make thing more beautiful than we could imagine, and it’s in His timing. This reminded me that this momentary affliction was just that, a moment.

Flash forward 7 more years. I’m 20 now. I’ve been through counseling, praise God. Yes, I still have memories I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I still remember the years no one in my family was on speaking terms. But God has done a work in me more beautiful than I could have imagined.

During this whole time, God has been speaking to me. He has been guiding and growing me. I’m a girl who grew up in chaos who God molded into a peacemaker. He has given me perspective and wisdom I can only give credit to Him. He took a girl who thought she wasn’t anyone and made her into a leader. I’m that girl. He did it for me. As I look back I see his goodness. On nights we didn’t know where my sweet brother was or what substance was sucking the life out of Him my God was present. He spoke peace into my heart. On the night I didn’t know if I’d ever see my dad again because He was moving four hours away, my Heavenly Father was right there showing me hope. Even in the moments I felt joy God reminded me that He has more.

There’s not a moment He wasn’t there. And now because of the work God has done in my life I have a heart for people like my brother. People who have lost their way, and sought to self-medicate. This past November, God started pointing out the city of San Francisco. I really tried to ignore it and tell God I wasn’t strong enough to do ministry there. But it didn’t work. Turns out He knows I’m not strong, but He is in me. So this November I’m moving to the city. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m excited to see how God continues to show Himself to me there.

In all of this, I can say God did it for me. He has turned everything into beauty. Not just circumstances, but in my heart. He has shown my soul His face.

When I see more of Him, I know more about myself. The “authentic me” is thoughtful, silly, passionate, creative, and free. I blog at www.kelseyamandamitchum.com and I LOVE it.

Now I know that no matter what His name is stronger. He is my best friend, my adventure partner, my hiding place, and the one my soul loves. I no longer have to search far and wide for an answer. Now I search deeper into Him, who is the answer.

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