Overcoming obstacles, clinging to hope, finding success…. this is my story.

EARLY BEGINNINGS

Sunday school, a time when many young children give their hearts to Jesus – I was one of them. This vivid event is one of the few positive childhood memories I have. Most memories consist of sexual abuse and parental discord. Iʼm fortunate to have loving parents – but their marriage was appalling. They had no idea the abuse I was enduring.

By the time I was 12; drugs, drinking, partying, boys, self-harming and witchcraft were a norm. Having older neighbourhood friends didnʼt help. These behaviours masked my pain as I sought desperately for something to fulfill me.

THE LONG NIGHT!

At 14 I had a life-altering encounter – I made the decision to move to BC with a much older man. He filled me in on the plan to change my appearance and get me new ID; I would have to memorize my new family history. He promised to take care of me and reassured me I would never be found. I was so naive. The night before my departure God intervened. My mom awoke in the middle of the night, by what she describes must have been angels banging on the door, so loud it sounded like the walls were collapsing. As she checked my bed she found me gone. I snuck out to party with my friends, one last time. She did what most terrified mothers would do – she prayed.

I came home high and carefree. She sensed something was terribly wrong and stayed up all night in prayer. I woke up with a mind change, I no longer wanted to leave, I told my mom everything. After the police interrogation I realized the realities of human trafficking and how close I was to serious danger.

LAYING FOUNDATIONS

After this incident I make a conscious decision to serve the Lord. Over the next few years I surrounded myself with Biblical messages, attended Bible Camps, got involved in youth group/church and joined a ministry team to reach inner city youth. This was a foundational season of my life where I pumped myself full of The Word of God and learned important Biblical truths.

I SHOULD HAVE GOT A SPEEDING TICKET

At 16 I started dating someone – at 17 we married, 2 months later I was pregnant. I didnʼt plan my life to move so fast, none-the-less, thatʼs where my decisions brought me.

We went to church, prayed, studied the Word, lead Bible study; I thought we were seeking the Lord together. You would think our marriage would have been healthy; I thought it was. I had visions, plans and goals for my life. I had supportive friends, excellent fellowship groups, attended a great church. At home, I did devotionals, confessions and listened to teaching. God was important in my life.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

15 months after the wedding I was alone and abused, infant in arms. He became a drug addict, a drug dealer, and I later discovered the illicit sex that accompanied his lifestyle. He became straight-out-scary. As I sought the Lord, I was kept in perfect peace; I believe I was protected though my innocent and ignorance.

The first year we were separated, I was certain it was only going to be temporary. I confessed and prayed every which way I knew how. I took him to marriage courses, went to counselling and desperately begged him to enroll into rehab, he didnʼt.

The second year we were separated things got weird. He was highly possessive; he stalked me, broke into my home, threatened some of my friends, and tried to force me to be with him. He even kidnapped me and threatened to take my life. He was charged and imprisoned. It was clear, the drugs he was on completely controlled him.

I quickly found myself struggling to fuse together God’s truth with the realities around me. I believed for God’s promises to come to pass in my life, yet the world around me seemed to be crashing down.

DARKNESS OVERTAKING

Pain | Beauty from Ashes | My Story | Tash Stewart

This was the beginning of a very-dark season. I made some bad decisions and allowed bad company in. I soon found myself lost in eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. This led me to a life of self-destruction, shame and guilt.

As eating disorders took over, the noose around my neck became a familiar-yet-comforting feeling. Each day was a game, I thought I played well but my secrets were walls that kept me alone.

RELENTLESS LOVE

“You won’t relent until you….. have it all.” These lyrics simply describe the battle going on in my heart. The Lord was ever-working, constantly calling me towards Him. His call on my life was strong and relentless. I tried to run but his everlasting love never let me go. His grip on me was stronger than the pleasures of this world.

It didnʼt take too long before I gave my head a good shake. It was time to clean up and pick up the pieces of my torn life. I reached out to my Christian friends, plugged back into church and did everything I could to drown myself in teaching. I knew the Word was my lifeline; I was determined to see it come to pass. During this time I experienced many miracles and grew in leaps and bounds. I still struggled in various areas but I was actively engaged in battle. I found myself leading a Bible study again – something that became so natural. I filled myself, I overflowed – I couldnʼt keep the truth bottled up.

SURPRISE!

One man in my study group voiced interest in me, wanted to date – I declined. I wasn’t ready; I had a lot to work on. Naturally embarrassed, he withdrew from my life. The loss of his friendship troubled me, he lived close and I missed his helping hands around my home, I missed having him around.

After a long compelling phone conversation, I reluctantly agreed to date and soon after agreed to marry. Honestly, I knew better, but I was caught up in emotion and reasoning. After all, I was abused, injured and damage, thatʼs how I perceived myself. This man was educated, grew up in a seemingly perfect Christian home. Who was I to pass him up? Within the first week of our wedding, I went to sleep with two black eyes and cracked ribs.

My life became a lie that I covered with a smile. Everyone was happy for me; everything appeared to be going well. This abusive relationship only lasted a few months and I take my fair share of responsibility in it. I was not innocent, I was a wreck and not easy to live with. My life rapidly spiraled into chaos.

This was the pinnacle of my shame and guilt. I made horrible decisions and now I am paying the price. I was an embarrassment – I hated who I was, and everything I became, I struggled to show my face. I never felt normal, what was normal? What is a “good” life? Is it even possible? I tried so hard, but kept failing.

Thoughts like this dominated my mind; I would let someone gorge out my eyeballs and chop off my limps if it would take the pain in my heart away. How could I escape these constant companions of torment? There seemed tone no way out. I seemed to be doomed to be a mess. At this time, these lyrics became my anthem and parts of this song became my faith confession. I sang it loudly and with passion as my eyes created rivers, for my feelings to swim in.

Beauty From Pain – Superchick

Verse 1

The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I’m alive but I feel like I’ve died
And all that’s left is to accept that it’s over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I’m slipping away

Chorus

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today, Someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Verse 2

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I’ll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can’t understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how you’ve brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

Chorus
Verse 3

Here I am, at the end of me, tryin’ to hold to what I can’t see. I forgot how to hope,
this night’s been so long, I cling to your promise, there will be a dawn.
I had a terminal sickness, not physically as one would imagine, sick in the head.
Abuse, lies and abandonment became my norm. It’s no surprise, insecurity, fears,
and phobias constantly accompanied me. I was addicted to self-destruction, had
no end in sight, I had no choice….. I had to end my life.

SOGGY BAND AIDS

Itʼs remarkable Iʼm here; whatʼs more impressive is that Iʼm happy, healthy and a thriving success. I am fully aware that it’s only by God’s goodness and grace I have been delivered from addictions, depression, insecurity and so much more. Donʼt get me wrong, there are principals Iʼve had to learn and implement but they were not natural, they were spiritual ones. God’s principals were the ONLY things that brought about lasting success,

I tried every natural remedy the world could offer. I saw counsellors, psychologists, physiatristʼs. I was on medication, did in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment and read multiple self-help books. Where did this lead me? Bound-up under soggy band-aids, which offered minimal, temporary relief, but not a cure.

LURKING IN THE SHADOWS

Today I am married to Peter, a man who desires God more than anything. I am forever grateful that we can grow together spiritually. Peter and I met as teens; we remained friends throughout the different seasons of our lives. He remained in the shadows watching my life play out like a terrifying movie. Little did I know, his love for me extended beyond friendship. He didn’t let on, he prayed, waited, and prayed some more; he was just always there.

Today, weʼve been married 10 years and have 4 perfectly healthy children. Together as well as individually, we make a point to put God first, every, single, day. Peter and I made a decision to put God number one in our lives and as we have done this – I mean seriously – everything else falls into place.

The blessing of the Lord has provided so much for Peter and I. We have seen countless miracles physically and financially, both in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Everything we are today and anything we have accomplished we give the Lord credit for.

BEAUTY FROM PAIN

Beauty from Ashes | My Story | Tash Stewart

As the roller-coaster of life jarred me around I hung on for dear life. I tried to jump, I tried to get off, I wanted to slow down, I did all I knew to do. But… through every twist and turn, the Lord was there, even in the times when I failed to understand.

When I was faithless, he was faithful. Because of that I kept returning to the truth, I kept planting seeds of wholeness as I learned who I was in Christ.

Today, I am a new creation. So vastly different from this person youʼve read about, it feels like Iʼm merely telling you about a movie. The Lord truly restores, I can proudly say, he has removed all pain from my heart…and I didnʼt have to give up any limbs in the process

…. He has brought beauty from my pain ….

Tash Stewart

Tash Stewart

Inner Strength Trainer

As an overcomer I have an insatiable desire to share what I have learned about building a beautiful life and relationships. I do so in the forms of writing, speaking, coaching and facilitating workshops.