Tracy Hayes left with no clue where she was going. She just knew she had to leave. She had spent over 25 years living life in a blur of drugs and promiscuity, knowing she was self-destructing but unable to stop herself.

“I became so cold- hearted that I hadn’t shed a tear in years. I hated myself,” she remembered.

It was 3:30 in the morning when she walked out the front door of her house, leaving all of her clothes and possessions, and headed down a dark street with two options in mind: Seek God or die. Recovering from that last high, she slept for three straight days. On the fifth day, an acquaintance who had been helping Tracy, dropped her off at a church to attend a life applications class.

Tracy had spent her life in and out of churches, but it wasn’t until that day she truly experienced authentic love.

“I learned about a Jesus I never knew. About forgivenesshealing, and most importantly, He loved me. I was sure for all those years that He hated me,” she said.

Devastating Secrets

Tracy never imagined her life would turn out like it did. She was adopted at just four days old and spent her early childhood in church. She got good grades, excelled as an athlete, sang in the church choir and lived in what seemed liked the perfect family.

But it wasn’t the perfect family.

There were heinous secrets, and abuse became her normal. Her mom was a tyrant, always screaming and physically abusive. She beat Tracy nearly every day, leaving physical bruises and emotional scars.

“I came to accept that she always hit me because she was the mom, and that’s what moms did,” Tracy explained. And she never told anyone.

She was the apple of her dad’s eye, but he had no a clue of the abuse she endured.

At age 9, a family member began sexually abusing her. He justified it by telling her it was okay because they were adopted. Tracy thought no one would believe her, and she worried her parents might rage at her or her brother if the secret got out. Instead of telling anyone, the little girl poured herself into being an overachiever, winning awards and learning how to perform for love.

Hoping to escape the pain of living in such dysfunction, Tracy eloped right after high school. Her new husband promised to love and protect her, and she gave her heart completely to him. She soon became pregnant but tragically miscarried in her seventh month.

At the hospital, doctors gave them devastating news. She would never be able to have more children. Then Tracy learned her husband was having an affair, and they divorced before their first anniversary.

Running From the Pain

With a broken heart, broken dreams and a vow to never trust or love again, Tracy began a downward spiral that would almost kill her. She was introduced to cocaine and homosexuality at a party one night, and she spent the next 27 years battling addiction and having sex with whoever, whenever. Some nights Tracy got so high she pleaded with God to let her die, hoping an overdose would finally stop the nightmare.

She tried to control her addiction, spent several years in the Army and eventually cleaned her life up, if only temporarily.

“I always had a happy face, but no one knew I was dying inside.”

Because she never addressed the pain of her past, it continued to haunt her almost daily. She spent 10 years clean but it didn’t last. Tracy went back to partying with a vengeance.

Tracy knew her choices did not fit God’s plan for her life, but she couldn’t seem to escape the destructive patterns. Defeated, Tracy adopted the belief that God surely hated her for the lifestyle she lived. She jumped between churches, read the Bible intermittently and wanted God’s help, but she wasn’t quite ready to turn over her life.

Addiction ruled her; she stole from and used anyone who crossed her path. She began to manufacture meth and got arrested. Tracy faced years in prison, but by God’s grace, she received a short probation period and was fined only a few hundred dollars.

Rock Bottom With Nowhere to Go

By 2010, Tracy had been in a same-sex relationship for over a decade with a partner who had become extremely violent. She feared for her life and knew she could not go on like that anymore.

Desperate, with nowhere to turn, Tracy fell on her knees and begged for God’s mercy. She acknowledged the disappointment she felt with God, how she had longed for His protection in the devastation of her childhood and the pain in her life that had become so overwhelming that deadly combinations of drugs could no longer numb it.

She felt trapped — trapped in a same-sex relationship, drug addiction and pain she didn’t even know how to acknowledge. Tracy wanted the torment of her soul to end once and for all. In that moment of hopelessness, she cried out and surrendered to God without a clue what that even meant. She just knew she could no longer handle her own life. She was terrified, but she knew with certainty she had to leave.

So, early in the morning of March 1, 2011, Tracy left that life behind, literally walking away from every crutch she had ever used to survive. For the first time, she surrendered her life to a God much bigger than she.

Becoming a Hope Junkie

Tracy began attending a Celebrate Recovery program at a local church. She worked through the steps and fearlessly faced the pain of her past, even though it was one of the most difficult things she’d ever done. She developed relationships with people who loved her and encouraged her but who also held her accountable.

It was tough for her to imagine leaving homosexuality after spending so many years there, but as Tracy grew in her faith, she knew she could not justify the sin any longer. She believed God requires obedience in the issue even though it might seem costly at first. She prayed God would take away desires that were unpleasing to Him, give her a new heart, and that the result would be new life.

Now, years later, Tracy is still celebrating her sobriety. She has recognized the wounds that trapped her in destruction and has been able to extend forgiveness to those who hurt her most. She is now one of the leaders at Celebrate Recovery and considers it a privilege to walk alongside others as they experience the freedom in Jesus that has given her such hope.

Now she takes the Celebrate Recovery curriculum into prisons, which was something God had on her heart for a long time.

One of the most surprising parts of Tracy’s story is something that was once completely unthinkable to her. Tracy is married to a wonderful, godly man.

Tracy, a former drug addict who engaged in same-sex relationships, has experienced the miraculous redemption of a God whose pursuit of her was relentless. God has done so much more than set her free; He’s given her a second chance at a life that is more abundant than she ever imagined possible. It’s her passion and life’s sole goal to share her story so that others can cling to hope and trust in a God who can redeem anyone and anything. What can be better than that?