Note: many of the Soma Stories we share seem like tidy, wrapped-and-bowed episodes. We know that life on this side of eternity isn't always like that. Shauna's story isn't "finished" in the fairytale sense, but she was willing to share about how God has been at work in and through the difficult times she's faced. Her story is a great encouragement to us, and we hope it is to you too.
She sat across from me with tear-filled eyes. No hope. No direction. “I feel like I am spiritually bankrupt,” she said. “Why would God give me another chance?”
Shauna was over 2000 miles from her family. Striving to maintain her year of sobriety throughout an unstable relationship: domestic violence, codependency, and alcoholism. Raising two young boys on her own.
We talked through how God’s grace doesn’t run out. But how do you grasp such an abstract concept when you find yourself at rock bottom yet again? Shauna had placed her faith in Christ several years ago, but drifted from him time and time again. “Why would he give me another chance?” She felt hopeless, alone, and afraid.
A few nights later, I noticed a missed call from Shauna. Her voice when I called back was unforgettable. Quick. High-pitched. I couldn’t see the tears, but I could hear them. “Can you pray for me?” she said. “I just need prayer. My spouse has relapsed. The kids and I are driving around because it’s not safe for us to go home. I need prayer, but I can’t do it myself.” I prayed for peace and protection. I prayed for God to be visible. Shauna also called into the Christian radio station for prayer. Despite her belief that God was out of chances for her, she knew God was her only hope. She sought out prayer and community and hoped for one more chance.
Things continued to spiral downward. That’s the thing about rock bottom: you never really know when you get there. Finally, Shauna found herself and her two boys checked into a local shelter. Everything in her life fit into a single room.
Yet it is in the depravity, in the hardest moments, in the messiness of life that God often reveals glimpses of hope. The first gleam was the end of Shauna’s isolation. She’d become involved in a missional community (MC). They helped her set up her room, care for her children, and wipe away tears as she contemplated the drastic changes happening around her.
Shauna knew that the journey was going to be a long one, one that she could not do alone. But for the first time since moving to Indianapolis four years ago, she wasn’t alone. The body of Christ had embraced her, and there was no turning back. With every obstacle before her, the Lord provided strength to overcome them and people to help her along the way. Childcare for her boys: families from her MC volunteered to keep them, even overnight. Another job to provide necessary additional income: taken care of in less than a month. Help with finances and setting goals: Shauna met with church leadership and the Soma Mercy Team to meet immediate needs and plan for the future. Emotional support, love, and discipleship: Shauna now had women loving her and showing her Christ daily.
As things continued falling into place, Shauna longed for a home to share with her boys. She drove around one night and pulled over to the side of the road, calling out to God, “Why can’t you just give me a house?” She pointed to the house in front of her, “A house like that one?” She continued to pray. She continued to dream. Finally, she mustered up the courage to reach out to a housing contact from a family member.
And which house was the landlord renting out? The exact house Shauna had parked in front of as she cried out to God in hopeful frustration. God had gone before her and provided a home.
Just when stability was starting to take root, Shauna received word that one of her jobs was shutting down.
“Normally my reaction would be to go home and sleep, not knowing what else to do,” she said. “But this time I felt led. I love the verse, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13), because I know that I can’t do it on my own. But with God, I can do it.” And that’s exactly what she did: on the same day that she left her job, God provided a new job with a schedule that allows her to spend more time with her boys.
In the span of a few months, God led Shauna on the journey from spiritual bankruptcy to overflowing joy. “I remember Soma saying that you would walk through this with me as long as I said you could. And you are actually doing that. So many times people say they will do that, but this time it is actually true. I have a family here. I haven’t had that since I was a kid in Canada!” Shauna is passionate about inviting others into this community, spending much time at the park with her kids inviting people she meets to church and upcoming events.
Shauna’s life is far from easy. On the one hand, she recently celebrated two years of sobriety; but she also balances working two jobs, raising two children, managing a house, and being an active presence at Soma. She is even laying the foundation for a business she dreams of starting. There are still days that are hard. There are still days filled with tears. But no matter how her days are going, she always holds onto the truth that she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or living in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)