Beauty from Ashes: One Girl’s Journey From Relationship Hell to Healing

In Advice and Encouragement, Relationships by Debra Fileta

Every now and again, I get an email that completely blows me away and reminds me of why I’m doing what I’m doing. Every now again, I hear from someone who’s story speaks so loudly of the Spirit of God at work that it brings me to tears. Every now and again, I’m reminded that all the time, energy, and work I put into this ministry is not in vain- because in God’s kingdom, nothing goes to waste. 

A few months ago I received an email that literally brought me to tears. And believe it or not, it came just at the right time. I had been going through a season of doubt and discouragement: wondering if I was being effective in the work God was calling me to do, feeling confused about the next steps, and asking God for clarity. And sure enough, God blessed me with a sweet email that reminded me that in all things – HE IS ALWAYS AT WORK. 

Today, I want to share with you this powerful testimony of God at work. I asked Erin for her permission to share her story on my blog. She prayed over it, and with the blessing of her family, agreed that it would be the right time to tell her story, hoping and believing that God will use it to encourage, heal, and bless – even if only one person. So, without further to do, please read this POWERFUL story of redemption, and then leave her some love in the comment section below. — Debra


I’m an almost 21 year old girl who travels in full-time music ministry with her folks across the country.I’m also a photographer who started my own business when I was 17. I grew up in church all my life, and have been a happily spoiled, only-child with an amazing childhood. Photography is my passion and singing the gospel is my calling. Sounds pretty super, huh?

Well, allow me to let you into the darkest depths of my heart a few years back…

When I was a budding, blossoming, innocent 16 year old, I was victimized by a married man. He was nearly 30 years older than me and a close, trusted family friend. Most people don’t have a clue the kind of damage that happens to a kid’s psyche when exposed to this kind of predatory behavior.

Brainwashed into thinking I was ‘in love,’ I turned into the darkest and hardest version of myself. Once the relationship was found out and all hell broke loose. I inwardly lived in a state of rebellion, while trying to keep up the outward image of still being the ‘perfect Christian girl’ everyone thought me to be.  My parents took me to counseling, and I kicked and screamed all the way. After 4 months of getting the beginnings of the help I needed, my counselor released me far too early…

Immediately after, I was desperate to be normal, to be in a relationship that looked wholesome and healthy. Over the next couple of years, I clung to whatever poser came along. I thought that anything had to be healthier than what I’d just come through. I found myself in relationship after relationship of continued destruction with guys who put forth the image of being godly, but were really living in the darkness of alcoholic and sexual addiction, pornography, bisexual perversion, lies and deception.

Because I thought so little of myself, I didn’t believe I deserved any better. Verbally, physically, and obviously, emotionally abused at every turn, I almost married one of them before the Lord intervened in my life.

I finally got the real help I needed. My destructive cycle was broken by a sweet, unassuming angel in disguise. Yes, I’m a strong believer in professional, godly counseling. I wish everyone could discover the security of this environment that makes you feel safe and helps you to thrive. It’s been a long, painful road, but Christ has restored my life, my innocence, and my relationship with my family.

Last year, my mom was on Facebook and happened across Deb Fileta’s blog. She shared it with me, and soon I was unwrapping True Love Dates under the Christmas tree.

I just recently finished the last page, and I’m starting on page 1 all over again. I’ve never been one to mark up a book, until now. True Love Dates is filled with my underlining madness. I can’t get enough. It has become my handbook to life. Without hesitation, when another guy comes along, I’ll probably hit him over the head with it and say, “HEY! You totally went against Chapter 7!” (laughs)

Deb’s writing has helped me discover my full potential. It’s been almost a year of being single, and it never felt so good. Deb and her husband, John’s love story gives me hope that there’s someone out there who could love me enough to always put Christ first in our relationship.

True Love Dates will continue to be a revolving door of encouragement I will be re-reading for years to come. It doesn’t matter your age, your past or your season of life, my desire is for everyone, if you’re breathing and blinking, to read True Love Dates. If you’re single, read it. If you’re married, read it. There is something for each person to take away, whether it be directly for themselves, or to impact someone else’s life with a word of encouragement.

Take it from a girl who was thought to have ‘done everything right.’ I didn’t. I messed up. A lot. I didn’t think I was worthy to be redeemed or set free—and remember, I grew up singing about God’s grace and mercy.

I’m a young woman who has done a total 180, and it’s my turn to let you know that you’re NOT alone. You may not think anyone understands, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. It took me almost losing everything to realize what I had all along. Christ wants you to be whole. He wants you to be the best version of you imaginable.

True Love Dates was my final step to healing, it’s my prayer that it will become your first. So, what are you waiting for?

Comment below: What are some ways God has brought beauty from ashes in your life?