“I saw so many bad things happening in the world and wondered if there even was a God,” said Dana Schultz. “When I was sexually assaulted at 16, I really started questioning God’s goodness. Why would He let all these awful things happen?
“In college, I was lost and looking for identity in the world and approval from my peers. I started getting involved with drugs, drinking alcohol excessively, and engaging in premarital sex. Later, I found myself in a serious relationship that turned toxic very quickly. My boyfriend was mentally, emotionally, and in several instances, physically abusive toward me. Often, I’d end up crying on my floor wondering, Why me?
“I was at my absolute lowest and tired of doing life my way. I was tired of feeling broken and unfulfilled. Everything I did just ended in disaster and pain. I realized I was looking to so many different things for fulfillment, but I had yet to give God a chance.
“I was reminded of one of my best friends in college, Ashley Kate, who was a Christian. I watched her life radically change. From afar through her social media posts, I saw how she was very open about how God changed her life, and I knew she struggled with the same things I did. After trusting in the Lord, she found joy and peace.
“I reached out to Ashley Kate because she invited me so often to go to church with her after college, but I always said no. Her consistency and nonjudgmental character made her a safe place to come to, even now years later when I wanted to start going to church.
“The first Sunday I went with her, the sermon was about reasons people say they don’t believe in God and why they should. The message felt catered directly to me and where I was in life. I felt an overwhelming sense of grace and love.
“I went back every week. I just kept showing up. When I first started, I was still doing a lot of things that were not honoring to the Lord. I was still smoking pot, getting drunk, and sleeping with my boyfriend, but I was also consistently showing up to church on Sundays and slowly learning more about God’s Word.
“As I grew, I learned that full surrender is what He wants (Luke 9:23). I was very nervous to give my life to Him. I was so used to doing things on my own, and I loved being in control of my own life. Surrendering that control really scared me.
“For the next two and a half years, I kept living how I wanted – split between the sins I loved and the God I was beginning to love. The sins I thought I loved didn’t feel good anymore, and I realized how unhappy I was. God’s Word was seeping into every choice I made and every thought I had.
“When the pandemic started in 2020, I decided I was done living with one foot in the world and one foot in the church. I felt like a hypocrite like I was living two different lives. I was tired of the shame and anger I felt from my sexual assault and tired of the life I was living.
“I knew that only something radical could change my life. And I knew that only Jesus could do it.
“I decided to forgive the man who raped me. I said out loud to God, ‘I hope he comes to know you. I forgive him.’
“That day, I knew firsthand how powerful the Lord is. There was no way anything else in this world could bring me to that point of forgiveness. The Lord had set me free, and I had fully surrendered. I wanted my faith in Christ to be my entire identity, not just a part of me. I started taking little steps of obedience to change my habits.
“Shortly after moving to Dallas, I got into a terrible accident on the highway. I was severely physically limited and couldn’t do much on my own.
“It was in that season that God made it very clear to me that anything can happen to my physical health, but I have to make sure my spiritual health is taken care of. My circumstances can change and waiver in a moment, but my faith should not.
“In that time, I formed new routines and learned so much about God. I knew He would get me through everything I was going through. I knew God would use my situation for good. And He definitely did. I have never been more secure and grounded in my faith after spending that consistent time in prayer and learning my Bible.
“The hard parts of my story (and anyone’s story) show that God works things out for our good. He is my strength. He is my provider. Even when I don’t understand why I’m going through something or my prayer hasn’t been answered the way I want, I always think back to what God has done for me and what His Word says He’s done. His promises always come true (1 Corinthians 1:9).”