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  5. Tanya Glessner's Christian Testimony

"Tanya Glessner's
Christian Testimony"

                                      Reading time 6 min 35 sec

I learned that when you ask God for something, you better be prepared to receive it. God blessed me with a lengthy prison sentence instead of a death sentence.

My Testimony

I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, in a home filled with chaos. Home was an ever-changing address with the only constant being my parents fighting. My dad enjoyed his plethora of drugs, and my mom enjoyed pushing his buttons and being the victim.

They finally decided to call it quits when I was 11 years old, but not before finding out that he wasn't my biological father.

My grandma had broken the news to me in an angry, drunken stupor right before presenting me with the news of the divorce. It was absolutely crushing. My mom and the man I thought was my dad had two sons younger than me.

I came to find out that I also had two younger half-sisters on my biological dad's side. The message being sent at this point was that I was unwanted and didn't belong. Hence, my series of poor choices led me to the foot of the cross.

My biological dad made minimal effort to see me before he died of cancer in 2008. After my parents' divorce, I lived with my mom and two younger brothers.

She continued to choose men struggling with addiction and violence. When their violent attentions turned on me, I decided it was better to become the monster than to be the one subjected to it.

I started beating girls up at school and being rewarded at home for my victories. I was eventually expelled from school and had to complete my schooling that year on the mental health ward of a hospital.

Once I returned home, I ran away repeatedly and would stay with friends until their parents would turn me away. My mom had had enough of me and sent me to live with my grandma in Fort Scott, Kansas, to start my freshman year of high school.

In my freshman year, I was kicked out of school for a confrontation with my teacher and finished the school year at another school. I moved back home with my mother during my sophomore year, and we got along like rabid dogs.

When my 16th birthday came along, I went to school, dropped out, went home, packed my bags, and moved in with a friend in Fort Scott. This lasted about two years before I started bouncing back and forth between Kansas City and Fort Scott.

I Am My Mother's Daughter

Over the next twenty years, I gave birth to two sons of my own and married a man who was the sum of every man I had ever known. He was wild, abusive, addicted to anything that made him feel good, and promiscuous.

I became the mirror image of my mother. I knew how to push his buttons and play the victim, always convincing myself that I could change him. It took over a decade for me to realize it was a war I was never going to win.

I finally filed for a divorce and decided to leave him for good. At first, I did well. I went to work, raised my boys, and occasionally had a girl's night out on a weekend when the kids were with their dad.

I kept myself busy to keep my focus off the unbearable emotional pain I had pushed far below. Eventually, it made its way to the surface, and I began to unravel.

Girl's night turned into every weekend. Every weekend turned into a meth addiction, which in turn caused me to lose my job. Now, bills were piling up, and I had to find a way to make money without interfering with my addiction.

Head First

I made a phone call to a friend I grew up with in Kansas City and decided to get my own source of meth so I could sell it and make some money. Everything moved quickly from there. Within a few months, I was making a few thousand dollars a day and spending it just as quickly.

My house was a revolving door of addicts, boyfriends, guns, and drugs. I started using the needle and decided it was best to send my children to live with my grandmother.

After a boyfriend had broken both of my wrists, I had a lawyer draw up papers, leaving my children to my grandmother in case something more permanent happened to me.

I knew I was either going to end up dead or in prison. My addiction took precedence over everything in my life. At this point, all I wanted to do was die, but that was all about to change.

Three years into my addiction, I found myself at a complete stranger's house, suicidally depressed, injecting a needle filled with a large amount of meth into my vein.

As the needle fell to the floor and landed in the old carpet like a dart, I collapsed to my knees on the verge of losing consciousness and cried out to God to save me. I wasn't prepared for the manner in which he would choose to respond.

A few weeks later, I made a stop at a house to drop off some drugs. When I arrived, there was a woman there that I had a bad history with, so I confronted her and put her in the hospital.

I was arrested a week later and found myself facing 21 years in prison, so when I was offered a plea agreement of eight years, I gratefully accepted the offer.

Receiving God's Answer

As I sat in county jail for several months, my mind began to clear from all the drugs. I found myself overwhelmed with remorse for what I had done, and I wanted the opportunity to make amends with the woman I had hurt.

I slid my back down the cold, white cinder block wall and adjusted my orange jumpsuit. I pulled my knees into my chest, clung to my bible, looked up with tears running down my face, and asked God to make the way.

The next morning, an officer pulled me into the hallway to inform me that the woman who was my victim had just been arrested, and because of my good behavior, they didn't feel it was fair to ship me to another county to be held until I was sent to prison.

They were giving me the choice to decide if I wanted to be housed with her or farmed out. My head spun in disbelief because this is not something that usually happens!

I knew right then that God had heard my prayer, and this was my opportunity to put up or shut up.

As she entered the jail pod, you could see the fear all over her face. She went straight into her cell and crawled up into her bunk. I gave her a few minutes and then made my way over to her door. I told her she was safe and invited her to eat with me.

Over the next few weeks, I made my amends and was shipped off to begin my prison journey. I experienced God's presence over those few weeks in a way I will never forget. I found myself overwhelmed with remorse.

I spent the next seven years in prison, earning all my good time. The experience was overwhelming, but I used the time to grow closer to God and establish a godly reputation among the prison staff and my fellow inmates.

I became a leader of a women's Christian ministry inside the prison, and I started prayer groups in the dorms. Women sought me out for guidance, friendship, and prayer.

I also tutored women for their GEDs, filed their taxes, and cut their hair. God used me in countless ways and continued to grow me in the process.

I was released in 2020 and married my High School sweetheart, who is a paramedic. Adjusting to his schedule took some getting used to, as well as being a stepmother.

In May of 2021, my brother was found dead in a hotel room in Colorado from a fentanyl overdose. He was a Millwright worker who traveled worldwide for work and was away on a job.

He turned 38 on May 13th and was expected home a few days later, but now, instead of planning a party, we were planning a funeral.

After dealing with the initial impact of my grief, I decided I wanted to do whatever I could to help make sure no other family ever had to go through this.

I became a leader of a women's Christian ministry inside the prison and began mentoring incarcerated men and women, as well as recovering addicts in my community. I sponsored a fundraiser to bring awareness to mental health issues because I believe most addictions stem from there.

I also wanted to help put an end to the stigma attached to seeking mental health services. We seek medical help when our bodies fail, so why wouldn't we seek help when life seems to be too much?

In 2023, I published my first book, "The Light You Bring," and in 2024, I published my second book, "Stand Up Eight." I am currently working on my third book, a daily devotional for every day of the year with an anticipated release date of November 2024.

I recently accepted the position of President on the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army and Compassionate Care Ministries in Fort Scott, Kansas.

God never wastes a hurt. He is using my past to brighten others' futures. God uses my words to give voice to those who need it.

When God pulled me out of the darkness, I used one hand to cling to him and one hand to pull someone else out."

Tanya Glessner: United States

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