UP FROM THE DUST

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Shanique Sa­muels Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

WHEN ANN-MARIE Gra­ham thought her life was mean­ing­less, she was en­cour­aged by the un­like­li­est of per­sons: the now in­car­cer­ated dance­hall artiste Vybz Kar­tel.

Gra­ham, who was part of the aborted Vybz Kar­tel Re­al­ity Show Teacha’s Pet, did things she now re­grets.

“On that show, I said and did things I shouldn’t have said and done, but one day, Vybz Kar­tel told me that I am a smart one. He said that I am dif­fer­ent – I am a child and he is send­ing me home. He saw some­thing in me that I didn’t see in my­self,” Gra­ham re­calls from that ex­pe­ri­ence.

MEANT FOR GREAT THINGS

Kar­tel reignited a thought she had as a child grow­ing up – that she was meant to do great things for God. How­ever, it would be a while be­fore she got to that re­al­ity in her life.

Even be­fore her Kartel­re­al­ity foray, her self-es­teem started chip­ping away when she got mar­ried at 18 years old, fresh out of high school, to the man she thought would com­plete her.

That dream was shat­tered just five months later when he told her he didn’t love her. He had only been at­tracted to her in­no­cence!

Crushed, de­jected, hav­ing what­ever residue of self­worth she had to­tally de­stroyed, she started en­ter­tain­ing thoughts of sui­cide and liv­ing reck­lessly.

“I was dev­as­tated. In my child­hood years I suf­fered from aban­don­ment is­sues be­cause my fa­ther wasn’t there for me and life was very dif­fi­cult for my mother. When I got mar­ried, I car­ried my emo­tional bro­ken­ness into the mar­riage, and my hus­band wasn’t very un­der­stand­ing, and so that con­trib­uted to the break­down of the mar­riage,” she told Fam­ily and Re­li­gion.

Two years later, de­pres­sion was Gra­ham’s con­stant com­pan­ion as she felt so unloved. At some point, she just gave up be­cause she was feel­ing com­pletely bro­ken. Her stub­born heart no longer wanted God.

She might have given up on God, but He didn’t give up on her, even af­ter she joined the re­al­ity show as she was en­cour­aged to pur­sue the good­ness in her.

She went back to Mon­tego Bay, St James, but her reck­less life­style con­tin­ued – go­ing to par­ties with friends, wear­ing X-rated out­fits, and get­ting drunk.

“Life had no mean­ing to me, and in my heart, it didn’t mat­ter if I lived or died.” Or so she thought un­til the sum­mer of 2012.

“I re­mem­ber vis­it­ing a church I had never gone to be­fore. When I got there, the pas­tor gave me a prophetic word from God. He told me that God showed him where He was go­ing to use me might­ily and that I would travel the world preach­ing the gospel and in­flu­enc­ing oth­ers. He also proph­e­sied that I would have a busi­ness and that one day I will marry the man that God has for me,” Gra­ham added, not­ing that she couldn’t be­lieve that God still wanted to use her af­ter all that she had done.

NO SIN­FUL DE­SIRES

“In that church, I knelt and I sur­ren­dered to God. Af­ter I left that pul­pit, I didn’t have the de­sire to drink or party any­more. It was all about work, church, and home.”

As if all she had been through was not enough, less than a year later, Gra­ham fell ill and got bap­tised shortly there­after. She has strug­gled with that ill­ness since 2013 un­til two months ago when she was com­pletely healed.

Gra­ham has since writ­ten a book called God’s Heal­ing Prom­ises, which is avail­able for pur­chase on Ama­zon. She is now into full-time min­istry and is also a mo­ti­va­tional speaker and the owner of Up from the Dust to a Life of Pur­pose Min­istries.

Ann-Marie Gra­ham is now into full-time min­istry, is a mo­ti­va­tional speaker, and is the owner of Up from the Dust to a Life of Pur­pose Min­istries.

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