My Testimony

Shontel Jackson-Taylor

For most of my life, I was a highly spirited, extroverted individual who was always involved in extra-curricular activities and loved being around people, family, and friends. That was my disposition all through high school and on into my military career. However, never did I ever think my life would take a turn the way it did, but are we ever really prepared for the darts life throws?

 

I enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2000, and I absolutely loved it. Again, at that time I loved being a part of groups and organizations, so the military comradery was right up my alley. I was in a relationship with my high school sweetheart, and my career was blooming. Then came my most precious possession: my daughter - who could ask for anything more! Suddenly my life took a turn; my once-thriving relationship became very unstable, extremely toxic, and stressful.

Soon after, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, and at that point, my life started to go on a downward spiral. Just like that, my normalcy and quality of life changed in the blink of an eye. Now let me rewind a little to my endometriosis saga - I started feeling excruciating pelvic pain in 2006, and it took two whole years to reach a diagnosis. I was stationed at Andrews AFB, MD and when my GYN couldn’t find a diagnosis, I was referred over and over again to every {literally} military hospital in the Washington DC, National Capital Region. Each visit ended with the same result: “Ms. Jackson-Taylor, sorry, but I don’t know what it is.” It was a vicious cycle. I grew physically and mentally tired and discouraged when right before I was about to give up, I was led to make one more GYN appointment on Andrews AFB. I was examined by a doctor who was newly assigned to the base and just a few words in, she knew exactly what it was. I felt like she was God sent! One laparoscopic exam later I received the definitive diagnosis of endometriosis. Although I was elated to finally have a diagnosis, it was later determined that I would be medically discharged. As if that wasn’t enough, my body suddenly started to experience a different type of pain. I was discouraged in seeking medical attention for the newly onset pain because of the debacle I had recently gone through with seeking the endometriosis diagnosis. A few weeks before I was officially discharged from the Air Force, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – another Chronic Pain disorder. I was distraught!

 

I went through times of asking those questions like, “why me” “why do I have to live like this.” I just couldn’t fathom how I could have my everything, my norm and my wellbeing swept from under me just like that. I thought I had everything under control and things suddenly changed. I didn’t know how to adjust to the lifestyle changes of living with chronic pain, while simultaneously dealing with a toxic relationship, and going through a career transition. Not to mention, I was later diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after my discharge from the Military. On the outside, I kept pushing because I had no other choice, but inside I was quickly dwindling away.     

All of the above led to depression and withdrawal. That was my way of dealing with my life at the time. This once extroverted, highly spirited person was now one who socially withdrew every opportunity she could. I remember the times I would pick my daughter up from daycare after work, then go home and turn off my ringer. My friends and family were concerned, but withdrawal and internalizing it all were my ways of dealing with it. 
   

Until a friend said to me “Shon, you need to go to church.” I grew up in church as a child, but I didn’t have a church home nor a personal relationship with God, at the time. I was later invited to my current church home by another friend, and I loved it because it's a megachurch and I thought I could easily get lost. By that, I mean having no accountability - no one would realize when/if I missed a service, and I wouldn’t have to be transparent about what I was actually going through. I could attend at my leisure, get the good word and still be socially withdrawn (aka internally hollow and depressed). Ha! But God had a different plan. I am forever grateful to my friends for that bit of advice and invite because it forever changed my life. I am now an active member of my church, serving in ministry with multiple accountability partners. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the membership or the ministries, but it was the personal relationship with Christ that delivered me from that lingering relationship/strongholds, and negative thoughts of myself and depression. 

 

My medical conditions are still present, but they no longer have mental control of me. I found hope and love in Jesus Christ alone and although it wasn’t an overnight process, it was all worth it. And I’m eternally grateful! Now my question is “why me Lord?” You see, I wasn’t deserving of His love and protection, but He came and saved me anyway. Thank You, Lord! That’s just how good He is. 
   

My Reason: 

I was led to create this website and tell my story because God told me it was time. In the midst of coping, I hid my story, even from close friends and acquaintances out of fear of judgment and inadequacy.  I started to openly tell my story when I joined a Discipleship Ministry called, Queen Esther Ministry at my church. This ministry helped transform my life. It positioned me back in fellowship with others and helped me see that God loves me just the way I am and I am designed in His perfect image, flaws and all. He knew I would have all of these medical issues when He formed me inside my mother’s womb ~Jeremiah 1:5. See, it’s not that He gave them to me to cause me pain, but to birth purpose!