Transformation Tuesday: Sarah Gilpin

Transformation. We have all experienced it. And thankfully we are continuing to be transformed! Transformations can happen in many different ways. It can happen as a miraculous, instantaneous thing, a life-altering experience with God, or day to day practices and choices that results in a transformation. But really I suppose no matter how it comes about, it is ultimately God's working in our life. 

Today we are so happy to have a friend of ours and of the blog, Sarah Gilpin, sharing some of her transformation story that has taken place over the past few years. And truly it has been so amazing to watch this transformation from afar. And I know God is continuing to work in her life, bringing her blessing upon blessing (that's a promise for you Sarah!). This is definitely one transformation story that is far from over! Here's Sarah.

Wow! First, I am absolutely honored to be writing a transformation story for the For Glory & Beauty blog! In fact, they've inspired me to start my own blog, The Goodness Blog. Here is my transformation story...

This August makes two years of graduating from Mercy Multiplied. Mercy Multiplied is a nonprofit faith-based organization that helps hurting girls ages 13-32 that struggle with various life controlling issues such as depression, self-harm, eating disorders, abuse issues, or addictions.

My story wasn't uncommon, but it was unlike many others that I had heard before. I was born to a single mother and had never met my biological father. From the very beginning I felt unloved and unwanted. This would later cause severe low self-esteem and self-hatred as I was raised with part of my identity missing. This left a hole in my heart that needed to be filled.

Because of a sickness I had at birth, many people had to take care of me, and as I was told this story many times growing up, it made me feel more and more ashamed. It was apparent that I was a burden to my family. When I was a few months old my mom met the man I called my "dad" and had my brother. After this relationship ended, my mom married my stepdad. It was a confusing childhood for me due to going back and forth between very different households. My dad had many girlfriends with kids consistently moving in and out of the home. This brought in a lot of unsafe people. Through this I experienced sexual abuse at a young age. I was later emotionally and sexually manipulated after high school.

At this point I had been attending church for about a year now and had experienced a radical spiritual awakening. Church was the first place I felt loved, although I knew my parents loved me to the best of their abilities. However, because of the abuse I became depressed and had thoughts of suicide. For years I lived with this heaviness and emotional turmoil.

Despite my upbringing, I felt called to ministry and started attending a bible college. In college I was diagnosed with a disease called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and suffered from severe symptoms such as unwanted hair growth, depression, and weight gain. These nagging insecurities cause me to hate myself even more and wonder if any guy would ever want me or find me attractive. The struggle of insecurity started a lot earlier than this, probably with puberty as my hair suddenly turned very curly and I gained weight. To top it off, I struggled with my identity because of my ethnicity being in a very small, rural community and being so petite. I very much felt a minority to those around me.

Through all of this I became a people-pleaser, overachiever, workaholic, and a perfectionist in an attempt to find love and acceptance. I continued to find comfort in food and did not know what self-love and self-care looked like.

While I was in bible college, I had several friends apply to a program called Mercy Multiplied. I even encouraged many of them to go through the program and drove them to visit the residential homes to take a tour or attend their graduations. Little did I know that a few years later I would be in their place. I applied for the first time, but withdrew my application because I felt my issues weren't "severe" enough. Shortly after this I became the youth pastor and led worship at my church, but later endured spiritual abuse. Life became unmanageable and my dreams and goals of ministry were crushed. I decided it was time to apply to Mercy again, so I did.

On January 24th, 2017 I flew halfway across the country and entered the Lincoln, California home where I spent seven long months receiving healing and restoration. When I got to the home I was chronically fatigued, overweight, unhappy with my life, had low self-esteem, and a lot of shame, guilt, and condemnation. Through God's goodness he's helped me overcome the pain of my past and see that there is a plan and a purpose for my future. This is also the inspiration for the name of my blog.

My transformation was from the inside-out. He restored my emotions, self-worth, fears, and negativity and helped me overcome the emotional and physical heaviness I had fought for years. On August 22, 2017 I graduated an entirely new person. I had lost around 40 pounds and felt a lot healthier in every aspect of life.

When a girl graduates from the program she gets a customized graduation ring with an engraving on the inside of her choice. I chose John 1:12 which says, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." If I could sum up my experience during those seven months, it would be just that - learning that I am a true child of God. Literally. "Sarah" in the Hebrew means "princess". My identity as a child of God, daughter of God, was the very thing that I lost sight of through the trials I faced.

I'm grateful that the Lord has restored me and transformed me for His glory and beauty.

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