‘Model image’ drove young law student off the rails
Rachel Quinlan can barely recognise her old self: an anorexic, unemployed drug addict, walking the streets of Adelaide.
Things had not always been that way, as she recalls how she had started a law degree and had everything going for her, until the pressure of achieving perfection in every aspect of life became overwhelming.
"To overcome my pain and insecurities, I started to exercise and diet, which became my only focus," Rachel shares.
"An exhausting four years followed of battling anorexia, relationship break-ups, fake friends and numerous jobs – I found myself getting high every weekend.
"To escape reality, [finance] my drug addiction and stop the pain of two previous relationships, I turned to stripping."
Rachel's world came crashing down when she stopped making good money and people starting noticing that the drugs were taking control of her life.
"I remember the pivotal event when I had been walking the streets, in Adelaide, too tired to make the distance to the homeless shelter," she says.
"I made a reverse charge call to Dad to pick me up. My father's heartbroken response was, 'You can't keep on living your life like this, please put yourself in hospital, I can't help you if you can't help yourself'."
After trying all avenues to get out of the dead ends she had created in life, she finally acknowledged that she was powerless and admitted herself to hospital.
"There was nothing to lose as I had hit rock bottom – the only way now was up. A picture of my broken life was drawn by one of the patients in my ward on arrival that made me turn to God."
Although she thought there was no way to rebuild her life and receive a second chance from the outside world, hearing about the salvation that God offers through Jesus Christ changed Rachel's world.
As she discovered in 2 Corinthians 5 verse 17, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"
"Even though I was terrified of the dramatic character change I had to make, putting faith into the unknown was the best decision I ever made," Rachel says.
After being discharged from hospital Rachel went along to a local church which she says soon became her second family.
"I started volunteering and attending church every Sunday to give my weeks a purpose. With every step and leap of faith, God doubled my blessings."
She soon became involved in a powerful program called Celebrate Recovery which helped reveal the truth and peel off the layers of her old hurts, habits and hang-ups, once and for all.
"With the unconditional love of God through Jesus, I realised the sins and mistakes of my past do not define who I am today," she shares.
"With strength and courage, my heart is now filled with the Holy Spirit. I wake up with joy and truly believe that I was put on this earth with a purpose and a future."
Rachel adds that her blessings continued with new employment, restored health and an opportunity to play the piano for church every Sunday, attend Bible study and be involved in short term mission trips.
"My old habits only provided a short-term, artificial happiness," she says. "But the gift of God is everlasting, which no one can take away. The emotional healing that God has brought to my life was a dream I had, but is now my reality.
"No matter what lies ahead my eyes will never be led on crooked paths, but will only see God's pathway for my life. If a picture of my life was drawn again you would not think it was the same person. Nothing is impossible for our almighty God!" •
Courtesy Salvation Army Warcry magazine