Sue Donaldson

I am a born and bred Annapolitan (Annapolis, MD), raised Catholic.

My mother struggled to send me, my sisters and brother to Catholic

schools. I might not have appreciated it then, but I do now, if for no

other reason than a better education than public schools here have to


The product of a broken home (I was 7 years old when my parents

divorced), we had to grow up pretty quickly. We didn't hear much from

my father - financially or socially - for the first few years. With my

mother thrust into a position of working 12-15 hour days, we took care

of the house - the cooking and cleaning. My eldest sister Nancy, then

12, was in charge.

The first two years following the divorce was, for me, full of a

variety of kinds of abuse from assorted family members (not immediate

family). The safest thing to do was to withdraw from life, from

people. But that didn't stop the pain. Not hearing from my father

served to worsen things for me; I had always been "daddy's girl."

Maybe that was the reason I got so involved in the YoungLife group

as a freshman in high school, when I was 13. Somehow I knew Jesus

loved me, and wouldn't hurt me, and I could always cry about my

problems to Him without creating any more. I felt accepted, without

being judged. Safe.

The people I met - the priests associated with the school and the

others involved in the group - felt like a *real* family to me. It was

incredible how close the feeling was. People's pasts didn't matter;

the present and the future were important. Most important was our love

for the Lord and the fellowship in Christ we had together.

The next two years were filled with a spiritual growth the likes of

which I'd have never thought possible! There were no limits on our

rejoicing, and I would never have thought a prayer life could have been

any fuller than it was at that point.

As I entered my junior year, the majority of the group had

graduated, and YoungLife disbanded. Guess I felt sort of abandoned


At 15 years of age I was working about 25 hours a week - and

drinking pretty heavily. At 16 I started smoking pot. My freshman year

in college, I met - and started dating - a dealer, and was soon

involved with cocaine, speed, LSD, mushrooms, hash, opium and probably

a couple other drugs I can't recall at the moment.

Four years later, I broke it off with the dealer, but still hung

onto the drugs. Hey - they were security...a way to "cope."

During those 13 "wasted years, " a lot happened...failed

relationships, lost friendships, a lot of turmoil. Suicide entered my

mind, as it probably enters the minds of a lot of people involved in

drugs to that degree. And while I didn't actively seek it, my actions

leaned in a different direction. I'd go for days without eating or

sleeping. I *had* to stay on the speed, I rationalized; after all, I

was taking 15 credits in college and working 35 hours a week.

A friend - whose opinion I valued more than life itself at that

point - said to me "Sue. You've gotta stop this. You *have* to slow

down. Lay off the speed, get some rest and eat something. If you

don't, you're gonna kill yourself." I smiled at Scott and said "I don't

care." And I meant it.

I'm not sure what happened to change that attitude, and I can't

point to a specific time that it happened, but I found myself feeling

out of control. Gradually, I broke out of the addictions and got away

from the drugs. Pot was the hardest thing give up, though. My last

round with it was in July, 1988.

Even before I gave that up, though, I felt a tug from Above; a

burning, a regain that relationship with Christ

that I had once, what seemed like a lifetime ago. And I started

seeking that relationship, albeit fairly feebly and in the wrong

places. I began by talking with people, hoping to maybe rekindle a

spark that I believed was still there, somewhere.

Months passed and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to find what

I sought. I wasn't sure I deserved to have that back again. Through

the bulletin boards I met a fellow in Baltimore who told me to relax

about it and not be as worried as I had been; that things would happen

in their own time.

Less than two months after that, I found myself calling SMCIS. To

this day, I do not know where I got the phone number for the board.

With that first call, a series of amazing "coincidences" began to


..I do not call long distance boards, but I began to call SMCIS.

Every day.

..Buggs Bugnon invites me to a CBMC outreach dinner, which I


..In response to a message to someone else, Buggs told me he could

put me in touch with a couple here in Annapolis who might be able to

help me regain the degree of faith I once enjoyed. While Annapolis is

not a huge city, it's not very small, either. The couple he put me in

touch with - Andy & Sheila Buist - live less than 2 miles from me.

..Sheila and I were discussing the importance of reading the Bible.

I told her I was having difficulty doing that, probably because I found

the language in the KJV a little archaic, and that was all I had at the

time. Three days later in a class in Ellicott City, the group broke for

lunch (which we NEVER do), and walked across the highway for something

to eat. This was the first day in seven it had not rained. On our way

back, the teacher spied a book in the ground, bent over and picked it

up. Smiling, he handed it to me and said "Here. This *must* be for

you." It was a (NIV) Ryrie Study Bible...soaking wet, but otherwise

looked brand new. Three days later it was dry and in perfect working


..Buggs and the Buists started telling me about the CBMC conferene

at Sandy Cove. As it turned out, I had already put in for that exact

week off, but had no plans at that point.

There are other "coincidences" too numerable to mention. Since

March, my faith and relationship with our Lord has grown and blossomed

like flowers in springtime. Praise the Lord, my entire life has

changed! I've gone from worrying about scoring drugs to getting up at

5:30 in the morning so I can read the Bible and pray before I have to

go to work! My concerns aren't with "fitting in with the crowd" or

"trying to escape reality, " but with making sure I live a life that

will give tribute to our Father.

No, it's not all peaches and cream. It's not all roses. There are

still concerns, worries and troubles. Trying to figure out if I really

belong in the Catholic Church is a pressing question for me right now.

Trying my best to help others and perhaps bring another person to the

point I enjoy now weighs heavily. Being a witness is very important.

It's not easy. But it's a real, honest, joy!!

And the future will no doubt be filled with more problems and more

questions. After all, we *all* are engaged in that spiritual warfare.

And with renewed faith comes a battle which is even more heated than

before. But the joy is in knowing Christ is with me, and with us all.

And that through Him, all things can be accomplished. As I look back

at the last 14 years of my life, I know He was by my side all the way.

I certainly could not have lived through that without Him.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My wife Ann and I are very proud to call Sue Donaldson our friend.

Although we are mentioned above, we had nothing to do with how the Lord

has worked in the life of Sue Donaldson and how He will continue to

work in her life as she continue to let go and let God.

..Buggs Bugnon

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