“After my third failed drug test, my probation officer explained that if I failed one more test, I would go to prison for 10 years with no appeal. That’s when I realized I was an addict.” – Alana Barratt
“As soon as I walked into the house I knew something was wrong,” said Alana Barratt. “My mom’s eyes were full of tears, and my dad looked like an empty shell of a man. My mom explained that two police officers were there to arrest me for selling cocaine to an undercover officer. My life as I knew it was over.
“My two sisters and I grew up on the grounds of a prison in Navasota, Texas. My dad was the assistant warden, and my mother worked in the county Juvenile Probation system. I battled with insecurity and low self-worth early in life and had a hard time communicating with my parents. I looked for love and acceptance wherever I thought I could find it. “I trusted Christ at a church camp when I was 14 years old. I understood what Christ did for me on the cross, but it was more of an emotional experience. When I returned home, my insecurity flooded back.
“Later that summer I was exposed to weed and alcohol. The moment I felt that false sense of escape, I wanted more, and my addiction began. When my family moved to College Station my senior year of high school, I was exposed to other drugs and began to spiral out of control. I sought attention through unhealthy relationships and comfort from intoxication.
“When I was arrested for selling cocaine, I faced two felony charges and prison time, which temporarily scared me sober. After attorneys got involved, I was sentenced to seven years of probation. If I completed the required community service, drug counseling, and stayed sober, I would not have a felony on my record.
“At the time, I was a 21-year-old with the mindset of a 14-year-old. I never matured during my years of addiction, so I didn’t have the tools to deal with anxiety or make decisions. I would be sober for a few months, then relapse. When I found out I was pregnant at 22 years old, I didn’t think there was any other option than an abortion. I was so terrified about the procedure, I got high on the way to the Houston clinic and back. My boyfriend at the time was all for the abortion, but afterward, I was devastated when he stopped answering my phone calls. Feeling empty and worthless, I plunged further into alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity. I did not think God could forgive the abortion.
“After my third failed drug test, my probation officer and the director of probation explained that if I failed one more test, I would go to prison for 10 years with no appeal. That’s when I realized I was an addict. I’d been oblivious to my own depravity.
“Going through a 12-step program helped me understand what I needed to do. I confessed to my sponsor the destruction I caused and then was advised to spend time alone in prayer. I began asking God for forgiveness and for some sense that He was listening. In the middle of my prayer, God’s love, peace, and forgiveness washed over me. For the first time in my life the chaos, guilt, shame, fear, disgust, and anxiety were gone. That day, I told the Lord that I would chase after Him, like He had recklessly pursued me for the eight years of my addiction.
“I jumped headfirst into recovery, got involved in a local church, got serious about college, and graduated in 2012. The Lord changed my life so much that I was dismissed early from probation. I even had the opportunity to speak to kids in drug counseling and tell them how God had radically transformed everything.
“After graduation, I worked in Michigan for a while, but I really wanted to get back to my family in Texas. Feeling an unshakeable passion to serve the Lord in vocational ministry, I looked for churches online and found out about Watermark. I came here to The Porch and loved it. I jumped into membership, community, and started serving with the incredible Young Adults Ministry. Being part of a community group where I am fully known and loved with piercing truth and biblical grace has transformed my walk.
“This past year, I marked another milestone when I was accepted to the Watermark Institute, a discipleship and training ministry equipping people for vocational ministry. Gaining experience in vocational ministry and discovering the Old and New Testaments in ways I never thought existed have brought so much color to who our God really is.
“Serving as a Fellow with re:generation, Watermark’s discipleship and recovery ministry, is another gift. My past used to arrest me with guilt and shame, but God has turned it into an opportunity to help women believe that their story is not beyond God’s grace. The Lord has taken my ashes and turned them into a crown of beauty.
“Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed I would be here. But I’ve found real acceptance, and love in my relationship with Christ. I no longer have to hide who I am, or change into whatever others need me to be. The Lord embraced my heart the way I’d always hoped for. I have found so much freedom—a dream come true!”
To find out more about our re:generation ministry or Watermark’s Life Initiatives go to watermark.org or see the announcements in the “Care” section of Watermark News.