I was raised by my single stay-at-home mom in the small city of Owen Sound after she and my dad divorced when I was 2. I was singing before I could even talk and spent my childhood writing songs. I sang almost constantly and listened to music for many hours a day.
During my first year of high school, there was a school musical that I didn't audition for. My music teacher hunted me down and pulled me out of class declaring "you better get it together. You are in this musical, even if you don't audition." Not long after the musical finished, I left Owen Sound and headed to Toronto with my university-aged boyfriend. I was only 15 years old.
Soon after arriving in Toronto, I left my boyfriend and moved in with another boyfriend who was from the city. We stayed together for three years until the relationship ended abruptly. I continually tried to go home to Owen Sound, but my intense longing for the city of Toronto would always overwhelm me and cause me to run back quickly.
Back in Toronto, I became an office manager for a large corporation and reported to the company's Vice President. I managed to become very successful for my age and was making a very high salary. Despite my great job, the highlight and love of my life was music. I would go home from work and some days I wouldn't even take my shoes and coat off before working on my latest project in my personal recording studio. In the little remaining spare time I had, I worked as a volunteer with a record label. Although I was successful in my career, I felt like I was missing so much. I missed my family.
I became friends with one man in particular and we found we had music in common. After being raised in the Christian Church, he didn't mind letting me know that Jesus Christ was Lord. Soon we were working on music together almost daily. Between that and getting involved in another relationship, I stopped focusing on my work and was faced with losing my job.
Terrified of my situation, I sought after another relationship as a distraction. The man I turned to, unfortunately, turned out to be a pimp, drug dealer and convicted felon with a rap sheet as long as my arm. Before I could truly understand what was happening, I was manipulated, beaten, drugged against my will, sexually abused, and finally, I found myself an accomplice in his criminal activities.
At my lowest point in life, I called on Jesus. One day my boyfriend, the pimp, held a gun to my face and tried to force me into prostitution. But, staring at that gun, I realized something in me had changed. Suddenly I was not afraid. I realized that Jesus was with me. I ended up hospitalized shortly after, due to the effects of stress and malnutrition, but changes in my thinking, character and habits continued. GOD WAS REAL!
I left the abuse and felt I was ready to give my life to Jesus Christ. Shortly after my conversion, I moved back to live with my Mother. God challenged me through His Word not to give up. I went back to school, praying "God show me who I am because I don't remember." "I don't care what church I go to," I prayed. "Just lead me to a Church." Just days after that prayer, I was invited to a local church.
I went on to graduate from high school and soon after was married. Although I was infertile, against all odds I gave birth to a baby girl. Since my conversion, I had stopped singing publicly and producing music, believing it was the attention I received that had led me so far down the wrong path. But, I never stopped singing to God, and eventually realized that God had anointed me and my voice for ministry.
Around this time, songs started to flow from my spirit, with God speaking through the lyrics as I was writing. He told me never to give up on my dreams and not to second guess who I am. So, now I do it all for Him. I liken God to that music teacher who pulled me out of class one day a long time ago to tell me, "get it together, even though you are not auditioning for this musical you are in it!"
Story submitted by Lily, from Canada.
To read more about Lily's story, visit her website.