Wild and free ... and miserable

Vanessa Holland
Vanessa Holland and her mother’s lives were a hot mess before they met Jesus

Vanessa Holland spent most of her time "drinking, smoking, and getting into fights." Influenced strongly by her wild growing-up years, as an adult she was promiscuous, attended parties, took drugs, drank alcohol and trained in martial arts.

However, she soon spiralled into a dark tunnel of anxiety and depression. It was only when she woke up in hospital, after trying to kill herself, that Vanessa's outlook on life began to change.

Vanessa and her mother share their inspiring story on Youtube, beginning with the early days.

"We were very laid back and we did not like rules," Mrs Holland says. "With that sort of lifestyle though, there are no moral standards. That's how Vanessa was brought up – wild parties, sex, drugs, rock 'n roll."

"By the time I was 14 going on 15, I was living with a boyfriend," Vanessa says. "[But] it felt normal to me as I had no boundaries growing up."

However, she explains that she felt depressed. "I remember feeling horrible and feeling dark feelings as a little girl. Life just did not seem like a good thing."

Vanessa moved to New York to try and escape her depression. "I was trying to search for something that would make me feel better. I went through every single New Age philosophy and fad and I read every self-help book. I tried it all."

As her mental state worsened and she began to entertain thoughts of suicide, she questioned her mother, "Why did you have to bring me into this world? My whole life has been miserable. I have been in a depression for 30-something years. What is the point?"

Finally, Vanessa had had enough and attempted suicide. She ended up in the hospital and had to have her stomach pumped.

"I was powerless to be able to help her," Mrs Holland sadly recalls. "I did not really know how to comfort her."

After this incident, Vanessa admits that she "thought about God but I did not know who He was."

As Vanessa struggled to recover, Mrs Holland came face-to-face with a new reality. "I started searching for God when, after 34 years of marriage, my husband left me for another woman. I had never suffered very deeply before and a friend of mine suggested that I go to church.

"[During the service], I just started crying and crying. Later, the pastor of that church rang me up and I gave my heart to the Lord over the phone. I realised, after I invited Jesus into my life, that it was all true - God was true, Jesus was true.

"I was experiencing something in me that had never been there before. I discovered I could pray and I took to prayer like a duck to water and it was so empowering. It was like I had been waiting all my life to pray."

Later, during an altar call at the church, Mrs Holland walked down the aisle but not for herself - for her daughter. "I said to the pastor, 'I want to pray for my daughter's salvation.' So, we just prayed up a storm and there was a real power in that prayer."

While her mum had found Jesus, Vanessa was still searching for the peace she had longed for all her life. "I got into yoga and into marital arts. This girl from the martial arts class said, 'I can see how unhappy you are.'"

I wanted my
past and all
of that misery
to be erased

This friend had given her heart to the Lord and started going to church. She invited Vanessa to come with her and Vanessa thought, "Fine. You know what? I will go to church. I have never tried that before.

"The second I walked in the door, I felt something different," she says.

"I did not know what was going on but I started to cry. That was not really like me because I had become very hard at that point. But that particular day I had to be at work at a certain time and I left [early].

"The next week I had an urge to come and this time I heard more of the sermon and everything the pastor said was speaking right to my heart. He was talking about being forgiven of your sins and I wanted my sins to be forgiven and I wanted my past and all of that misery to be erased."

There was an altar call and Vanessa went forward. "For the first time, something sounded right, it felt right, it felt full, it felt different and the experience was just different. I did not really know what it meant to be saved yet, I just knew that it was the answer and I wanted it."

Ever since Vanessa gave her life to Jesus, "every day has just been getting better and better. It is like when you compare the old me to the new me; I am a different person. I am a 100% different person."

Mrs Holland says, "God has not only given me a daughter, He has given me a daughter as a sister-in-Christ. I'm so grateful to Him."

Vanessa concludes, "There is a Scripture that I feel sums up what God has done in my life. It is Romans 15:13 which says, 'May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope.' I feel radiant with hope. I feel radiant with joy. I definitely have peace."

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