Melanie Cop left a difficult childhood behind to embrace a new life where she loves and is loved.
Today as I was driving feeling quite reflective, I realised how content I am with my life. Despite the ups and downs and the challenges I have faced, I can honestly say I am satisfied.
This has not always been the case. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. My parents worked long hours, and interactions with my mother were often harsh and vocal and, with my father, brutal.
I was 12 when they separated, and my sister and I moved to a two-bedroom apartment with my mother and soon-to-be step-father. I began a new school—an outsider never to fit in.
I pretty much did my own thing throughout my high school years. My poor choices mostly went unnoticed as my mother was consumed with her work and new husband. I was a loner, at times attention-seeking, broken and lost without any direction or hope for the future. I was in and out of churches and some days called myself Christian, but other days my actions reflected differently.
Christians crossed my path throughout my teenage years and though there were several I recall as being influential, none could give me the healing and hope I sought.
At 17, I hit rock bottom. I was late to class due to a quick ‘smoke or four’. I was feeling quite relaxed by the time I got to class and, as I lay with my heavy head on the desk unable to move, I had an overwhelming sense that I didn’t want to do this anymore.
I was damaged goods, no good to anyone. My heart was broken; my body scarred, my thoughts clouded and my innocence a distance memory. Lost, lonely and friendless I cried out to God in my thoughts, begging him to intervene.
I’d love to say things were good from there on, but it took time. I made some positive choices, but some of my behaviours were replaced with other bad ones. My mother had had enough and one afternoon I came home to find my things packed in garbage bags at the front door. My father picked me up, but I didn’t last long living with him. I moved into a youth refuge and after a week there, my valuables were stolen and sold for drugs.
I left school and began working full-time at a small real estate agent. I had no idea about banking or saving and found ways to spend my wage fast. I sank into a deep hole of despair.
In my despair I began attending a church and quickly found acceptance among my peers. I found unconditional love for the first time—Jesus’ love that was reflected through these people, one of whom I later married.
I wanted to be like these people and share Jesus’ love also. I wanted healing so that I could offer the healing I had found through Christ to others. My reliance on ‘artificial’ joy was replaced with the real thing as I came to know more about God the real deal. I let God take the lead and have truly never looked back. Five years ago I walked into a Salvation Army church and felt I was home. I love my church family dearly.
After two years at this church I believe, without a doubt, that God asked me to commit my life to serving him full-time. Despite very strong reservations I trusted him to help me as I took on this new life. My husband and two amazing children have journeyed through studies and relocation to where we are today.
We are now ordained and commissioned officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army serving God in WA.