Today Trena is a grateful believer and follower of Jesus Christ. But that is far from where she was just a short time ago.
Trena’s father was in and out of her life until she was 23, this made her mother her primary caregiver and friend. When Trena was 13 her mom’s boyfriend started grooming her, then to add to his control of Trena; he introduced her to cocaine when she was 15. At the time she felt this was a glamorous and exciting life of addiction, secrets and the attention of a father figure. For a season she relished this double life. In one community of friends she was the wholesome small town girl and in another she was seen as an older party girl.
But this double life was taking its toll on her; more dope, more sexual advances. Anger started to define who Trena was and the abuse became more pronounced and violent.
“I remember a particular time we had been up for days. I remember laying there asking God if He would just get me out of this alive. The next morning, I woke up late but it was my job to have breakfast and lunch made. I walked into the kitchen and with one punch he laid me out cold. My head bounced off the floor. When I woke up, my mom was there pulling my lips out of my teeth, they had went clear through. She just simply said we are going back home.”
The change of location though, helped little as Trena took up with old friends. She was at a party when she met her husband. Very quickly the relationship bloomed and they were married within 4 months.
“We were happy for the first six years of our marriage, never really fought. I was clean and finally had normal in my life. I started noticing changes in his behavior. I guess looking back; I just chose not to see it. Our life wasn’t the fairytale but we had love.”
The all too familiar life of a whirlwind of activity, abuse and lack of control again took hold of Trena. He was in the midst of his addiction and Trena defended him even though she knew the truth. She lived life on a rollercoaster of denial.
Again this beautiful, happy woman gave into the anger, shame and guilt that had earlier defined her life but again, because of the secrets, she was forced to live a double life.
By day, Trena held a full time, worked all the over time she could handle, even babysitting on her time off. By night she was busy covering for her husband and medicating her own hurt and shame.
1995 began a series of tragedy for Trena, her best friend got killed by a drunk driver. Four months later a beloved cousin and her 7 year old son were hit and killed by a train. Four months after that her aunt passed away with cancer. Within five years she lost 2 more uncles and another aunt.
With all of this stress she had a miscarriage. Bitterness was ruling her heart and her personal life was growing more toxic by the minute. Her husband got deeper and deeper into drugs. Overall Trena fought for 12 years to keep her marriage going, only to lose it all.
“My cousin who was preaching in a small church in my neighborhood started witnessing to me about the love of Jesus Christ! He told me no matter what I had done God still loved me.”
Trena struggled with that truth.
“How could God love me? How could I be worthy of it? I was dirty and use up. One night, I began to pray. Cry out really. I asked God to deliver me from the nightmares and memories that haunted me and for addictions to be lifted off me. I was shattered. I felt betrayed, hurt, alone in this world and ashamed of my choices.”
Coming to accept the truth of God’s love Trena said the sinner’s prayer with her cousin and was soon baptized
A wide array of health problems plagued Trena and seemed to prevent her from getting ahead. It was then that she heard about Celebrate Recovery and decided to go because she knew she couldn’t do this on her own anymore. There Trena discovered who she really was apart from addiction, abuse and shame. Much healing has taken place and she pays it forward by facilitating a women’s small group.
As Trena began putting her life back together she realized that she was missing some key information. Basic life skills like budgeting, using language that was clearly understood by the middle class and goal setting were gaps in her education. Muskogee’s Bridges out of Poverty began the process of filling those gaps but in many ways only wetted her appetite to learn more. At Bridges she learned about how to best use community resources, that is when she discovered Gospel Rescue Mission’s Financial Help program. The idea of handouts made Trena feel insignificant and embarrassed but this program gave her the opportunity to take classes and apply that knowledge and if she put forth the effort she would get help with some of her bills.
It took Trena several weeks but she learned more on how to manage her money, goal setting as well as how to establish some healthy habits. When she completed the course she received help with her utility bill. A short time later when Trena accomplished some of her personal goals with the incentive of more financial help, she beamed with excitement at her success.
“I have great worth and the fact that GRM believed that I could do this class and accomplish my goals reminds me of the great love of God. My future is bright.”
Consider a 3 year pledge so that GRM can offer more of these life changing programs to more people. We are aiming to be a handup out of poverty, not a handout.