Hi. My name is Keela Hope, the girl who had no hope.
This is my story.
My Momma was a very sick woman. So sick that while she was pregnant with me, there were multiple times when the doctor’s called my survival unexplainable. A miracle, even. I should’ve died before I even set foot in this world.
But I did plant my two feet in the world for some unknown reason. I ran and twirled and stomped around this Earth in a child’s body, but the truth is, I never really was a child. My Momma was sick, and I never saw her healthy. She laid in bed most days, too weak to move, too stubborn to do something about it. She gave up on life, and in turn, gave up on me. She decided that life wasn't worth living and I wasn't worth living for.
I lived in constant fear of her death, always waiting for it. I knew it was coming, but I was terrified of the day it would finally knock on our door. I felt responsible for her. At five years old, I was taking care of my mother, helping her walk, begging her to take her meds, and crying when she refused.
She couldn't keep a job, and we ended up moving around a lot, stuck between homelessness and barely scraping by, but I'm grateful that there was always someone to provide shelter and food for us.
My father was out of the picture. I didn’t meet him until I was seven, and when I did, there was an immediate tension between us that caused me to cower whenever his name was mentioned. I didn’t like him, as much as I tried to.
He yelled at me, insulted my mother, and scared me to pieces. I was already living on shaky ground, but when I had to see him, I crumbled. The reality was that if something happened to my mother, there was a possibility that I would have to live with him. Above all else, that was the thought that was most terrifying and unbearable. I vowed that, no matter what, I would do everything in my power to keep that nightmare from coming true.
I walked on tip-toes around him, kept my mouth shut, and did my best to say the right things to avoid his anger. I couldn't speak to him without my tummy tightening with anxiety. Butterflies were an understatement — I had killer African bees when I was around him.
Fear was all I knew at that point.
My entire childhood was wrapped in a dread of my mother dying and the fear of my father. I had good times, yes, with many giggles and a family to provide for me, but at the end of the day, life felt meaningless. I couldn't see past my hopeless situation. I couldn't see any good in myself or the world.
I was lost, broken, searching for something to live for, and so totally alone.
Then, the worst happened. My Momma died. The woman who I loved more than anything else in the world left me. My sole reason for living decided to quit breathing.
I was nine years old when I first took a knife to my wrist and wished that one day I'd have the courage to take it to my throat. I tried. Boy, did I try, but my shaking hands weren't strong enough to go through with it. I took a nosedive into a pit of depression that I was unable to crawl out of. I spent my worst moments thinking up different scenarios, different ways to go, all the while feeling a bitter numbness or a severe rage prowling inside of me.
That was the end of the little bit of life left in me. After that, I was empty. I was fear, shame, anger, and hopelessness. Nothing more. No childlike giggles. No twirling and running and imagining. I became a shell, a shattered heart too weak to scream for help.
I just wanted something good to live for, someone who loved me, brokenness and all. I just wanted to not be alone.
My circumstances led me to believe that life couldn't be more, that it was a broken thing far beyond saving. My grades slipped, my behavior became gruesome, and I didn't really care anymore. About anything. I started walking down a path that no child should ever walk down, doing things that nobody should ever do. Ask anyone who knew me, and they will tell you that the life I was living was not a good one. If I had continued down that road, I have no doubt that I would have been pregnant by the time I was thirteen, hooked on drugs, in and out of juvie, and probably dead before I made it to my fifteenth birthday. By my own hand or by another’s.
I was so far gone, too far gone. Nothing mattered to me. My life was meaningless, and I was convinced that no one loved me or ever would.
I was hopeless. And I was alone.
So it was a surprise when a friend told me that I didn't have to be.
Sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce on the ground, at a birthday party of all places, a beloved friend told me a story that changed my life, that so catastrophically wrecked my way of thinking that I rose up from the ashes as a new person.
She told me that there was Someone far greater than anything I could imagine, far more powerful than any bad thing that ever happened to me. She told me that God was in control of my life…and that such a God loved me. Deeply. He loved me so much that He wanted to save me and bless me and make a home for me in Heaven (Hebrews 13:14).
But my sin created a chasm between me and God that I couldn’t cross by myself. I couldn’t get to Him or to Heaven because of the wrong things I had done (Isaiah 59:2).
Then she told me the best news that I had ever heard. She told me that God wanted me, that He loved me so much that He died for me (John 3:16). He made a way for me to get to Heaven, to get to Him (John 14:6). He took away my sin and my shame and my fear on a cross, and He turned it into something beautiful. All because He loved me and didn’t want me to be alone.
Sitting there in that moment, I felt something in me that I had never felt before. A rightness.
God was the one who I had been searching for. God was the one I could hope in. God was the one I could live for.
Because He is good. And He loves me. And with Him, I don't have to be afraid or ashamed, because all of that was done away with by the blood of Jesus.
I decided to believe in Jesus that night. I decided to believe that my life was not meaningless and that I could do something with it that matters.
That belief changed everything. Everything. There was darkness, so much darkness, and then there was so much light. He lit up my heart. He opened my eyes to see hope. Jesus Christ saved me from the wretchedness that I was and turned my sorrow into joy.
Looking back, that day was one that changed it all, but it was just the beginning. Each and every day over the years, I have woken up and remembered the hope that I found.
My God will not abandon me. My Jesus loves me. And even when times got tough, even when I relapsed and went back to my old ways, He never stopped pursuing me. He never stopped loving me, and as that reality sank into my heart, the fear began to dissipate. The shame was unveiled as a lie. The anger turned into grace, and I write this today certain that I have found the One who will not fail me or you or anyone else who leans on Him.
The One who I can always hope in found me, and my hope has not been in vain.
As a testimony of what God can do with a seemingly meaningless life, I’m now at the top of my class, leading a Bible Study in my school, serving in church, and deemed the goody-two-shoes by most everyone in society. I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head, and room to be the innocent, naive, and imaginative kid that I was never able to be. Jesus gave my life meaning, and since I was ten years old, I’ve been working to do something with my life that honors Him.
I'm alive, and it's only because of Jesus.
I miss my Momma, but I now recognize that God is sovereign and He works all things for good. I’ve still got daddy issues, but with God’s help, the fear has gone and I’ve been able to forgive him.
I lived a life so smothered in darkness that it took a miracle for me to see the light. And if that's you, friend, I want you to know that there is hope. There is a God who loves you, there is something good to live for, and there can be light in whatever dark world you're living in.
You don't have to be alone. (If you're thirsting for hope, I invite you to check out this page.)
I’m a new creation now, a completely different person than the one you knew when you began reading this. So let me reintroduce myself.