A comeback story
My name is Julie Pollard. I wanted to share my story to demonstrate how God purses every single soul and never gives up. He truly leaves the 99 to go after the one. I grew up in Omaha with my parents, twin brother, and older sister. Growing up I was given a strong foundation of who God was and was familiar with many of the OT stories. We went to church on a regular basis, my dad would read us stories from the Bible, we would pray before meals. Dad ensured we were connected to church, the Bible, and knew that Jesus died for our sins. I grew to respect my dad and his walk with God. He seemed to have this secret connection that I admired, a beautiful bond as he walked with the Lord. However, he also battled great anger that would throw our family into chaos. To be safe, I never shared my feelings or showed any vulnerability. To this day I still struggle with knowing what my feelings are in the moment. Many times, my emotions are like a dream; elusive and hard to pin down. As loving as our home could be, it was also full of turmoil. And it was very confusing to reconcile these 2 climates. But I knew my Dad loved me and loved God. To keep the peace, my goal was to be a good girl, which meant being silent, compliant, agreeable…. invisible. That way there was less anger and unpredictability. When I was 19, I moved to Phoenix with a man 6 years my senior. It was an unhealthy, codependent relationship, but also an opportunity to start a new life. Little did I know this was Gods hand…guiding me along the path he carved out with his gentle protection watching over me.
Shortly after I moved to Phoenix, a very kind, gentle woman approached me to study the Bible. I was very lonely, and my relationship was all but dissolved. I started studying the Bible and for the first time the scriptures came alive and I understood things previously veiled to me. I was baptized June 5th, 1988, which just happens to be my Dads birthday. I willingly moved out of my apartment I was sharing with my boyfriend and was welcomed into a warm, loving home 3 other sisters were sharing. I joyfully slept on the couch, gave up cigarettes, and a successful cleaning business my boyfriend and I had started. I had found a true love in Jesus I had never known before. I remember many nights sitting on an old picnic table in the backyard, playing my guitar with songs pouring out of me. Gazing up at the desert sky with millions of stars, all I could do was praise God and soak in his lavish grace. There was much laughter with my roommates and special memories I carry to this day. I was finally safe. And I was home.
After about 2 years, I moved to Kansas City for health reasons. The Omaha church had not yet been planted. I loved my new family in Kansas City and being closer to my family in Omaha. I met my husband, Steve. We dated for less than a year and were married. It was a fairy tale life we were living. We were tapped to go on a mission team to Little Rock, AR. We moved to Dallas for a year or so with 12 other disciples chosen from the heartland; we planted LR in 1993. It was an exciting time for us all. We built family, grew in our faith, and found new promises of God. My strong foundation of being immersed in God’s love served me well and would be tested in the years to come.
While it was a great time in my life, there was also much brokenness. Being a young church and lacking maturity and discernment, there was great dysfunction and immaturity in the fellowship. Many seeds of hurt were sown into our hearts. Little did I know a storm was brewing that would also shatter my life in ways I never imagined.
It was a Tuesday afternoon in the summer of 2003. I had graduated nursing school three years earlier and was loving my new career as an oncology nurse. Steve and I had been married 11 years, I loved my career, our new house and the possibility of starting a family. I remember sitting on the couch in the living room when Steve came home from work and simply stated, “I think we need to divorce.” The words hung in the air like concrete. His words stung like poison, and I was too paralyzed to move or speak. I stared at him blankly and asked, “What?” He repeated his statement, like he was telling me how much the electric bill was or something trivial like that. He refused to answer my questions, to acknowledge me, to give me any explanation, he just went upstairs like it was any other day. From that moment on, we lived 2 separate lives under the same roof. I was invisible. I was the unloved and rejected yet married woman Proverbs 30 speaks about; I was shattered, devastated, shredded. I spent the nights crying while he slept upstairs or maybe never came home at all. Over the coming weeks and months, it became evident there was no hope for reconciliation; they wanted me gone so they could start their new life, in our home.
At this point in my life, I had never really dealt with my past. I was living in dysfunction in the church and in my marriage. I had only basic tools or life skills to cope and navigate deep issues in a healthy way. While my foundation was in God, there had been minimal character development. I was not healthy emotionally or spiritually on many levels, I just didn’t know it at the time. In August of 2003, soon after our 11th wedding anniversary, I packed up and moved back to Omaha where my family was waiting. Mom had been battling breast cancer for 3 years and was nearing the end. I was in pieces. At the time, I didn’t know there was a growing movement of unrest in the ICOC, I didn’t know about a letter. I didn’t know God was allowing many things to be revealed. I just knew everything in my world was gone. My marriage, husband, house, friends, job, even my dog. Everything familiar and comforting was ripped away. I cried and screamed at God all the way home, literally.
I quickly found a wonderful job in oncology at a major hospital. Started breathing and putting the pieces back together. I attended the Omaha church a few times but kept my distance before walking away for good. I was disgusted with God, and I didn’t have time for his broken promises anymore. I spent every moment I could with my mom who was battling stage IV breast cancer with bone mets. She had a little over a year left to live, then she passed December 20th, 2004. It was the second most devastating loss in my life. The grief from losing my husband was still fresh, and losing Mom sent me into a tailspin. I found solace in the most unlikely place for me; alcohol and drugs. I never drank or used drugs before, but all of a sudden, a switch was flipped. Satan’s insidious trap ensnared me, and I had found euphoria and the answer to all my pain. I realized the absolute relief I could get from a little pill or a drink of alcohol. Satan’s treacherous plan unfolded like a runaway freight train. Deceit became a pet I nurtured and fed in order to present one lens to the world, while slowly suffocating my soul, drowning out any hurt, truth, love, or compassion. All the while, losing my sanity to addiction and alcoholism. Two years later in 2006, I surrendered my nursing license because my sin had caught up with me. But darker consequences were just beginning.
I continued to drink to cope with each loss, or should I say I drank so I didn’t have to cope. I lost my career and livelihood. I had to trade my new car in for something affordable. I moved in with a stranger, someone who was a friend of a friend. I found odd jobs until I started my own residential cleaning business. It was quite successful, and I had a strong clientele. I moved out on my own. By the world’s standards, I was getting back on top. But inside, I was tormented. By this time a raging alcoholic. I stopped communicating with friends and family. Only on special occasions would I show up to family events for a brief period of time. I was the demon-possessed man in Mark 5. Hating myself and being tortured from the inside. Ever since my move back to Omaha, my bitterness grew and strangled any tenderness in my heart, soul, and mind until there was only black, barren torment. My soul was pitch black, stained, shattered, beyond repair. God had become fair game. I held him hostage for taking my marriage away. For the awful hurts I experienced at the hands of inexperienced, harsh leaders of the church. For the dark times growing up with a dad I feared, all the while desperately wanting his love and approval. For stealing my mom away after an exquisitely painful battle with cancer. I discovered the deepest depths of despair in my drinking. I was drinking everyday to blackout. I wanted many times to commit suicide. I remember many nights telling God what I thought of him, my voice dripping with venom and sarcasm. I spared no hateful, cruel words as I spewed evil towards him. The tapestry of poison I spun makes my heart cringe to this day.
I sought refuge in shallow relationships, trying to relieve the internal pain and find any kind of relief. I plunged deeper into my drinking and would wake up with no memory of the night before or only remember pieces of an evening, different faces, echoes of conversation. Sometimes I don’t remember how I got home. Sheer terror would grip me as I looked at my phone seeing the calls I made in my inebriated state. The waves of guilt and shame would drown me, taking me further under water. The weight was crushing. And the only relief I found was in a vodka bottle.
I believe to this day God had to get me alone. Alone in my darkness and agony. Knee deep in my mess, my debauchery, hatred and bitterness. When we are the ones who build our own prison, our fortress…the silence it creates is deafening. But only in the silence could I hear Gods gentle voice. That’s the beauty of the blackest darkness. It’s only then we can hear and see God reaching out saying “I’m here my love, waiting.” I can’t tell you the day or hour He started restoring my sanity and reason. But I knew he was with me in the pit. I opened my Bible and started reading again. And when it was time, I woke up from my slumber and looked up. And only by his grace, I was restored to health, mentally and physically. After much wrestling, I found sobriety on November 1, 2008. Over time, after finding balance again, God blessed me with an incredible man who is now my husband.
With much effort and hard work, I was able to get my RN license reinstated. I found a new love for the elderly through my work in nursing homes. God restored my relationship with my family, and I had found forgiveness for my ex-husband and his wife and my Dad. I had baptized my Grandma years earlier in Kansas City before she went home to glory. My husband Shane was baptized at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Shane’s aunt Edie was baptized in June of 2023, on our 11th wedding anniversary. I look back at my journey and see how far away I had wandered from God. He never lost sight of me and was pursuing me for years, keeping me safe even from myself. I thank Him for every single battle I had, for they made me love Him even deeper and cling to his promises even tighter than before. I am beautifully broken and highly blessed today because of His grace. May I never forget the hallow ground where I stood and who I am without Him. I use the word hallow because every part of my journey was sacred, especially the dark times. It may not have felt like it, but I see how each struggle was a step towards Gods unending grace and love. My prayer is that anyone who reads this may see their story is beautifully written and they would boast about the weaknesses they walk through, just as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12. For that is where the Holy Spirit rests on us and supplies our every need.