By Ryan Zepeda —
Sana Cotten was only four years old when police raided her home.
“We literally lived in a crack house. My mother was addicted to drugs, and she was in and out of incarceration. There was a lot of people that were around, trying to help her raise me coming up, so I really didn’t have much of a relationship with her. To this day, I still do not even know who my birth father is.”
After the police raid, a malnourished and abused Sana, along with her twin, was placed in foster care and eventually adopted by Christians.
“I was always taught about God. I was always told that we needed to go to church. I was always told that there was a Higher Power, someone that we were striving to be like. But I never really had a relationship with Christ for myself.”
Still, the wounds from her early childhood took a toll as she grew up. At 18, she got involved with an older man for affection and got pregnant.
“I was still trying to find out who I was, and I was still trying to find someone that was going to love me. I was trying to still kind of heal and trying to find a way to get the love from a man, really, that I was lacking from my birth mother and my birth father.”
After two years, the couple separated. At one point Sana got into a fight with her ex and lost control.
“He brought a young woman with him,” Sana says. “Although we were not together anymore, something in me just kind of snapped. And I remember when the altercation was over, I found myself in the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror, tears running down my face, and I remember thinking, ‘There has to be more than this.’”
She realized her life was careening out of control.
“Before I went to sleep that night, I literally got down on my knees for the first time in years, and I just cried out to God and I asked God to really show me someone who was going to love me the way I deserved to be loved.”
The next day her cousin invited her to church. As she entered, her eyes fixed on one of the greeters.
She felt the strangest sensation in her life as God spoke to her heart. “God said that’s my husband,’ she whispered to her cousin.
“You are crazy. You’re supposed to be here for God, not for a man,” her cousin admonished.
“I’m telling you, God said that that is my husband,” she responded.
“I knew there was something different about him, something that I had never felt before,” Sana remembers. “And so when the service was over, we ended up exchanging numbers.”
The man ended up being the minister’s son. Following a half-year of dating, they got married.
Sana was happy. But she realized that her relationship with Christ was less than ideal.
“I was starting to kind of play church,” she says. “I would come to church, I would engage in the praise and worship and I would be a part of all of the women’s ministries, and all the different things that they had going on in the church, but I had no real relationship with Christ.”
Then a visiting minister called her out with a prophecy.
“God really wanted to use me, but He did not want to continue using me as a broken woman,” she remembers.
“And for the first time I realized that I was a broken woman. That even though I had found that love that I prayed for, and I had found this husband and I was married, it did not heal the things that I had gone through.”
Sana at long last surrendered to God, and after a time she saw that her messed-up heart had mended.
Your healing process is done, but now I need you to be unashamed, God impressed on her heart
“I finally realized all those things that I had gone through, all those years of pain, all those years of crying, had brought me finally to this point, where God said, It’s time for you now to serve me wholly, and it’s time for you to surrender to me. And it was in that moment I literally got down on the floor in my living room and I surrendered my life to God. And that was the moment where I knew that I had finally established my own relationship with Christ.”
Ryan Zepeda studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.