Middle class teen sinks deeply into drugs and self-destruction before finding peace
Pam Pena was a middle-class, suburban, messed-up teen. She was into drugs and sex. She had had an abortion, a fight with anorexia and tried to commit suicide several times.
Even though Pam had come from a good home with loving parents, “As I moved into my teenage years, I transferred my need for approval from family to my peer group, which led to some poor choices. I had a sense of purposelessness because I really didn’t develop a relationship with Jesus, although I had heard about Him from when I was young and even ‘given my life’ to Him when I was five.”
Pam found out she was pregnant and the couple decided she would have an abortion. “Later, I experienced rejection from that young man and also from the rest of my peer group,” she remembers.
Devastated by the rejection that left her hurt and empty, Pam developed a negative self-image and thought nobody cared for her and that God could never love her because of what she’d done.
Once, she tried and failed to take her life by overdosing on a whole bunch of pills. She also used bulimia [throwing up] and anorexia [refusing to eat] as ways to try to gain control of her life.
“I weighed just under 100 pounds (45 kilos) when I was at my thinnest when, originally, I weighed 132 pounds (59 kilos),” Pam tells. Ironically, “that behaviour took complete control over me. I did not have control anymore over that.”
Pam, now in her twenties, became so depressed and defeated in herself that she dropped out of college and turned further and further away from God.
“I was introduced at my job to cocaine by some friends,” she shares. “It was almost like I was immediately addicted because cocaine is an appetite suppressant. For me, that’s something I needed, I wanted - and then it was just a downhill spiral.”
Pam lived close to a drug den where she would go frequently to get drugs. She was involved in a relationship with the drug dealer and many times she would not leave for days, even weeks.
On one occasion, not able to get free from her sadness and turmoil, Pam deliberately drove into oncoming traffic.
“A passenger bus hit me broadside,” she recalls. “It turned over my car and I was trapped inside. The police arrived and pried me out of the vehicle. I was able to step out of the vehicle, unharmed.”
Once again, Pam’s life had been spared but the battle still raged in her soul. Her search for peace led to bad relationships, more binging and purging and more cocaine.
“Basically I always had cocaine with me and I was going, one day, to get some more,” she says. “On the way, I cried out from the deepest part of me. There was no sound. I just called on Jesus. I called on His name. The love of God just came into the car in such a powerful way.
“I was at a point, finally, where I was ready to lay down all my trying and all my striving and I believed that God loved me that day,” she continues with tears in her eyes. “For the first time I had a peace and I knew that God was going to save me and was going to help me. He was going to rescue me. That was the beginning of deliverance and a change in my life. From that day on, I never did drugs again.”
God did a miraculous work in Pam’s life. He touched her soul and renewed her mind so she could have victory over the secret areas of sin in her life.
“God is so good!” Pam declares.
“I had a lot of fears about my health and my ability to be a mum and also about being a good mum if God should give me a child. So I’m thankful that the Lord has blessed me and has allowed me to have a house filled with children.”
Pam goes on to say, “He came to set the captives free, He came to release prisoners from darkness and that is what Christ will do in any life. Any life – no matter how far gone, how deep the pit, His arm is able to reach down and get a hold of that life and change it for His glory. He is able.
“Look, I was there. He brought me from point A to point B and if He can do it for me, He can do it for you too,” she encourages audiences she speaks to.
One of Pam’s favourite Bible passages is from Psalm 136:1: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.”•