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4 min read

Joy in the Darkness: How God Pursued Ruschell

“I came here looking to get out of the desperation and the shame and the pit that I was in.”

For 46 years, Ruschell battled the abuse, addiction and severe trauma that defined her life. She says that from an early age, she knew something was very wrong—something in her family, herself, her curiosity. “I was sneaking my dad’s cigarettes from the time I can remember.” At the age of ten, her brother shot her dad, and her young psyche was damaged even further. From her teen years on, she was lost in addiction—miserable and angry. “I became the kind of girl that if you made mad, you were going to get it.”

“I was sneaking my dad’s cigarettes from the time I can remember.”

The knowledge that her heart and her life were desperately broken never left her. Still, she had no idea where to turn or what to do to “climb out of the pit” so she continued along the only path she knew.

Over the years, Ruschell’s drug of choice changed from acid to meth and coke, then to alcohol. Throughout it all, she also looked to men to numb the pain. She was using anything and everything she could to try to escape the war raging in her mind and spirit. An ex-partner took her first two children away from her and, in her hopelessness, she sank further. “I started working at a strip club and diving deeper into drugs. I was a meth addict for 20 years.”

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A few times, Ruschell attempted to quit. “I got with my ex again, and we were doing meth together, but we switched to alcohol because he got busted at work for doing drugs. I tried to quit cold turkey one day, and I had a seizure in front of my kids. I didn’t know that alcohol could kill you. That was my rock bottom.”

At rock bottom, Ruschell’s sister was planting seeds of hope. “God used my sister who’s a pastor to put UGM in my thoughts.” When she recovered, still determined to maintain sobriety, Ruschell showed up at the UGM Crisis Shelter for the first time. “I went into First Steps for four months and quit and started drinking again.”

“I went into First Steps for four months and quit and started drinking again.”

Afraid she’d never change, Ruschell says that leaving UGM was her second rock bottom. For a time, she experienced total despair.

But God.

The next morning, something she’d never even known to ask for happened: the Holy Spirit moved in her heart. God woke her up with a sense of joy. “I woke up that morning at my daughter’s and I was happy. That’s when I knew— I could feel God saying to go back to UGM, and I wanted to. I followed Him.”

With very limited knowledge of Scripture and zero experience obeying the Lord’s will, it was simply a miracle of grace that Ruschell had what she needed to stick to the program the second time through. She completed First Steps, remained sober and was accepted into Women’s LIFE Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall.

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Through grace after grace, her life was changing before her eyes. “I had tried doing it my way and it never worked. It’s Him. He’s the difference.

“I got baptized on Halloween 2020. That’s really when my whole world changed.

“Everything I thought my whole life, that voice inside, was actually the Holy Spirit. I just didn’t know! Now I see Him all over the place. Where I used to think He wasn’t with me, He was there the whole time. All the way back. I can see the silver lining now because He was there. Even in my faults. And I’ve done a lot of sinning.”

Ruschell embraced all that the LIFE Recovery program has to offer. She welcomed the challenges of community life at the Hall, and relished the chance to memorize Scripture and sing worship songs to the Savior she was falling in love with. The more she studied and worshipped and talked with Jesus, the more joy overflowed her heart and into her life. “He wakes me up in the morning, and I’m ready to go and I’m so happy! I call it the Jesus joy, and I got it. I love it.”

“He wakes me up in the morning and I’m ready to go and I’m so happy!
I call it the Jesus joy, and I got it.”

Today, Ruschell is in phase 4 of the 5-phase program. Her life still isn’t easy and she’s working hard to regain custody of her younger two children. But she exudes peace and confidence. “I’ve dealt with hard things, and He’s given me hope.

“I am so confident now—the confidence is just screaming all over the place—I don’t care if anyone judges me because He’s got me. I can hold my head up high. I completely trust Him. I used to be ashamed of my past, but now I’m so happy. I know He picked me. He chose me.”

“I know He picked me. He chose me.”

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The fruit of a dynamic relationship with God reveals itself in every part of Ruschell’s life. “I’ve learned how to love everyone where they’re at, and just shut my mouth because whatever my old fleshly ways are needing to say, it wasn’t working my whole life. So, to be still and listen to Him. I love my sisters, even if we get angry with each other in community, we’re quick to forgive.” Ruschell lights up talking about all the ways God has forgiven her and calmed the strife that had resided in her heart since before she can remember. 

“It’s all in the Word. Grace. He gave me grace. I feel the love. It’s so amazing I can’t describe how different it is.”

Ruschell’s new life and the strength she has to abandon her addictions and pursue the life God has for her is nothing short of a miracle. But it is a miracle that Jesus came to offer all who are willing to receive it. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Eph. 2:4-5)

Soon, Ruschell will enter her business practicum, get a job, move out on her own and complete her program. She hopes to work at UGM, offering the light and truth of her Savior to many women in the future. But she says no matter where she winds up and what her life brings, she is confident that God is going to guide her. “My future is… anywhere He wants to take me.”

"My future is...anywhere He wants to take me."

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:2-7)

 

 

Learn more about UGM's philosophy of change in Phil Altmeyer's video series. 

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