Content Advisory: This story contains details of addiction, depression, domestic abuse, and the loss of a loved one. Discretion is advised for those who may be sensitive to these elements.
Growing up in the suburbs of Baltimore, LaTonya faced a tough childhood marked by family struggles. Her mom battled alcohol addiction, her dad was dealing with depression, and she experienced verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse from family members. LaTonya grew up believing that God rewarded good people and punished bad people – so if she was experiencing so much hurt in life, there must have been a reason.
LaTonya started to believe that God's love wasn't meant for her – that maybe she deserved these bad things that were happening to her. LaTonya spent years believing she didn’t deserve blessings, and that God had left her to fend for herself.
LaTonya started to believe that God’s love wasn’t meant for her.
This belief led LaTonya into two abusive relationships, each lasting five years. But something began to shift. LaTonya knew that she couldn’t live this way anymore and needed to walk away from the situations causing her pain.
It wasn’t long before LaTonya met a kind man who showed her the love she had always been searching for. LaTonya finally knew what love and compassion from another person felt like. Together they started a family and a hopeful life together.
But tragedy struck just two months after the birth of their twin daughters. LaTonya got up one night to check on a crying baby, only to find her partner lifeless, facedown at the bottom of the stairs.
As LaTonya grappled with this staggering loss, she challenged God with honest questions: “What do you want from me? Why can’t I have a family? Why don’t my kids get a dad? Why can’t I have happiness?”
LaTonya plunged into grief and spent a year in counseling. In this season, she hit a turning point and started to believe that maybe, just maybe, God didn’t hate her after all. But if he didn’t hate her, how did God feel about her?
If God didn’t hate LaTonya, how did he feel about her?
Suddenly a spark of hope and curiosity hit LaTonya – almost as if God himself was giving her an invitation – and she moved herself and her kids to Hanover, PA.
In January of 2020, LaTonya began to get an even stronger sense of God’s guidance in her life: “When I feel like the Holy Spirit asks me something or shows me something, I will give it a try.” Each time, God would give LaTonya a nudge or an instruction, and each time she would follow it – even if it didn’t make sense.
As LaTonya’s faith grew, she was able to look back on her life with fresh eyes. Sure, she went through things nobody should have to, and experienced incomprehensible loss and pain. But LaTonya is beginning to see the breadcrumbs God left throughout her journey that eventually led her here, to a relationship with him. She realized from day one, God has always been pursuing her, and he never abandoned her.
LaTonya’s life isn’t perfect, but the hardships she faces are easier to bear knowing that God is with her. The way she describes it, “I have somebody I can go and talk to. I can say, ‘Jesus, this is hard.’ I can say ‘Jesus, this is great.’ It’s just like somebody I love, and he loves me.’”
I have somebody I can go and talk to. I can say, “Jesus, this is hard.”
A relationship with God has given LaTonya peace and comfort, even when things are hard or uncertain. She knows that God will always be present in her life through all the ups and downs, and he can handle all of her questions and uncertainties along the way.