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 desire...no, a NEED...to 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.
..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.
Testimonies of people changed by the power of God!
Index of testimonies Home