Dawn's Story: From Lost to Found

*By Guest blogger Dawn Tiffin

On Sunday, October 16th Dawn Tiffin was surrounded by her church family while she was baptized. Before her baptism she boldly shared her life story and journey to find Christ. The following is what she shared with us that day.

It’s hard to condense 56 years into a sound-bite, but I want to share a few things in order to illustrate just how much God changes lives.

My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic and an alcoholic who blamed me for ruining her life. My father was also an alcoholic, and suffered endogenous depression. I inherited the depression gene—which I consider a pretty good deal, considering the other option.

My father forbade all religion in our house. He was vehemently against Christianity, so I had no grounding in any faith of any kind. No rudder, no anchor. No hope.

I learned how to take punches without flinching, endure the foulest verbal attacks, and have looked down the barrel of a gun at each of my parents, at different times, on the trigger end.
Books, music and nature were my refuge in a hard and ugly world.

I played music for over 30 years, in punk, post-punk, and industrial rock bands. I moved all over the country, and I indulged in the type of lifestyle you expect of musicians. I was saturated in booze and drugs.
Eventually, I went to college and majored, amusingly, in religious studies and predictably, English literature.

I landed here in Oregon right before the crash of 2009. I, like many others, lost everything. I was laid off from a job I loved, lost all 3 of my 14 year-old cats in rapid succession to cancer (those of you who don’t have children will understand why this is tragic), and had a VERY violent falling out with a person I considered my best friend.

Depression folded me in its black arms, and whispered failure in my ears every step of my way.
In my befuddled state, I married a man I knew I shouldn’t have. When the violence and the alcoholism erupted after the first year, something in me snapped.
I meticulously calculated a lethal dose of my husband’s opiate painkillers and tranquilizers, and on a glorious, sunny day a week before my 52nd birthday, I took my own life.

*Insert record scratch sound here*

After 3 days in hospital, I was released to wander with a ragged and aching hole in my chest, trying to put one foot in front of the other in a world that made no sense to me.
I got a divorce, and moved from one bad situation to the next—6 times in 2 years—a shoulder’s brush from homelessness.

Last August, a coworker asked me if I would stay at her apartment for a week to take care of her dog and cat while she and her daughter visited family in New York. I thought it would be good to have some 4-legged company, so I agreed.

My friend is a single mom, raising her daughter in a small apartment decorated in Bible verses. The atmosphere of a peace-filled HOME was SO comforting I couldn't help but feel it. She has no tv, and the only books were a basket of inspirational books and a Bible.

Each day, several times a day, I walked around the apartment and read the verses, the quotes from Christian authors, inspirational collages...I noticed a reference to CS Lewis and thought, "He's a rational guy--an Oxford Don--he won't be prone to flights of emotional excess. I'll check him out".
I bought a ragged copy of Mere Christianity, and laughed in gleeful agreement, underlining my way through it.
I began reading the Bible with much different eyes than I had in college.

As the week went on, I began to think, "Could it REALLY be possible that Christ exists, and that the Holy Spirit can lead a person--even a complete waste of carbon like me--to Him?"
I decided to take the gamble. I thought, "What have I got to lose? If it's true, that's just awesome, and if it isn't--well, perhaps I will live as a better person because of it".

I pulled the car over on the drive to work and prayed a tentative, shy prayer to Jesus, asking Him if He would “forgive me for bothering Him and if it was alright, I'd like to accept Him into my life--oh, and please ask the Holy Spirit to help me be a better person if that's even possible".
In a moment of synchronicity, the song "Holy Spirit" came on the radio, and the deal was cinched with tears.

My life was filled with rejection and brutality.
In my time, I've taken an array of drugs, both street and pharmaceutical, and washed them down with oceans of booze, in an attempt to distance myself from my pain.
I have been arrested.
I have broken every. single. commandment.
I have badly hurt people—even and especially those I loved--out of my own woundedness.

Yet, in spite of all of that, and in defiance of my own low opinion of myself, I have been called daughter by a Father who truly and inexplicably loves me. My past has been washed clean by the gift of a sacrifice I can barely comprehend.

I believe with ALL certainty that I was allowed to live through my attempt on my own life for the sole reason of coming to know Christ. I believe with all my heart and mind and strength that He is my Lord and savior, and that I am made worthy in Him and by His death on the cross.
My life of wandering is at an end, because my Shepherd has called this lost lamb home.

I hear His voice, and He knows me, and I follow Him.