On paper, it looks like Joy and Will’s relationship should never work out.
They met at a rehabilitative center, both struggling with mental illness and grasping at stability. With judgment clouded by circumstance and logic overruled by passion, they fell in love.
Joy was seeking treatment for an eight-year struggle with anorexia and depression after years of sexual abuse from six different men. Will was finally receiving diagnosis for lifelong mental disorders. But this quick, 10-day program provided little more than heavy medication and was a small band-aid on severe wounds for both of them.
They left the treatment facility together and started living in hotels, rented trailers and friends’ houses. Within a couple weeks Joy found out they were pregnant, so they moved to Texas to stay with Will's parents.
Shortly after the move, Will had a breakdown. Joy had weaned herself off her own medication and as she watched Will slide into his old patterns, a fog lifted. “There was a voice in my heart telling me that I needed to leave. It was so scary. I didn't know what was going to happen next or where I would go, but I had to leave,” Joy remembers.
Her dad bought a plane ticket and she came back to Colorado. She stayed on her mother's couch, praying
for God to show her the next steps. Her mother delivered some tough love. Joy says: “My mom told me, ‘You can't raise a baby while living on my couch.’ And she was right.”
Joy had been turned away from countless maternity homes, but then her dad found Champa House. At five months pregnant, Joy filled out an application and went through orientation. “When they called me, I knew that I was going to get in. This was my last chance; all other doors closed. It really needed to happen. I was walking around my house crying and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, things are finally going to change.’”
And things did change. She had her baby, Xander. She began spending time reading the Bible and praying. “God is so incorporated into everything at Champa. The staff prays for us, meets with us and gives us shoulders to cry on. Having that kind of support in my life was so good for me. Before, I pushed everyone away who tried to support me. But I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I started taking responsibility for things,” Joy explains. One of those responsibilities was for errors in her relationship with Will.
“The staff asked me, ‘What can you take responsibility for?’ I started praying. I knew in my heart that God was going to do something really big and my relationship with Will would be a big testimony for Him. All I wanted was for God to be glorified,” she says. Joy wrote letters to people she hurt—to Will and to his family. After months of anger and resentment, her heart opened up to the idea of being with Will again.
“During the nine months of not speaking, I learned how much I wanted God, and I was seeking Him because I realized it was the most important thing to do. When I got her letter, it felt like life was possible again; I felt hope,” Will recalls.
Joy felt hope too: “I spent such a large portion of my life trusting in my own understanding. A huge part of being at Champa was learning to trust other people's counsel. Throughout the whole process with Will, I've had people to go to. I've never done that before with anything in my life. I had no idea what it felt like to be led by God.”
Now, Will and Joy are getting married. With so many factors trying to work against them, they have found rest and comfort in the fact that they serve a God with much bigger plans than they could ever imagine. They believe that God brought them together not to hurt one another, but to heal and restore.
“We both represented each other’s greatest fear and greatest hope. But the whole time we were following
God through it,” says Will.
God has blessed them with emotional stability and financial security. Joy is staying home with Xander, but they think about the future constantly. They want to foster children and adopt them. Together, they want to show others the unfailing love, forgiveness and redemption that God has shown to them.
For now, their main priority is being stable parents for Xander, but they are already pursuing ministry involvement in their church. Joy is looking to find a place in the women’s ministry where she can show other women how to overcome struggle. Will misses leading worship and is beginning to look into becoming part of the church’s team.
Joy says, “At Champa, they don't convince you to get better—they love you until you are better. The reason I've been able to so radically forgive is because I understand how radically forgiven I am. I've hurt so many people and done terrible things. I was a vicious person. I had so much anger and fear that I lashed out at people. The fact that God still wants to be with me and be my Father makes me want to try really hard to forgive those who hurt me.”
“The Mission’s whole thing is self-sufficiency, but they teach that the only way to be self-sufficient is to be totally dependent on God,” says Joy. Together, Joy and Will have put their dependence on God and through Champa House, they’ve laid a foundation to keep it there.
– See more at: http://www.denverrescuemission.org/drm/stories/stories-joy#sthash.7WlEa8AX.dpuf