My name is Traci Hamilton let me tell you my story…
I grew up in a typical middle class family during the 70’s and 80’s. My Mom had been married several times, and finally divorced for the last time when I was a young teen. Times got pretty tough for us then, and Mom had to be gone a lot to support 4 kids. She left me in charge of my sisters a lot, sometimes for long periods of time.
It is amazing for me to look back now and realize that God was after me even as far back as then. My best friend going into high school was the daughter of a Baptist Preacher, and she often took me to church with her. She tried to explain to me that being born again meant that Jesus lived inside of you, but I just couldn’t grasp how another person could live inside someone.
I soon moved on and upward, or so I thought, and left behind my friend on the path to popularity. I joined a girls club and soon began drinking and partying, and dating boys. That began a series of failed relationships, and worldly living that continued on through college and afterwards. After college I moved around a bit, unable to really find the promise of the ‘great job’ that was supposed to be waiting for me. I ended up in Maryland, working in a dead end job, once again involved in a wrong relationship. But, amazingly God was still calling me.
Co-workers turned out to be Christians, and knowing how I loved to read, began bringing me Christian fiction books to read, opening me up for the first time to the angelic realm with the book ‘This Present Darkness’ by Frank Peretti. An elderly couple that had opened up their heart to me and taken a parental role, revealed that they had a relationship with Jesus and invited me to their church. I still didn’t get it.
Somehow God was drawing me back home, but I just wasn’t willing to give up on my dreams and aspirations. God finally had to take drastic measures, and he allowed me to go through a devastating season of stress, where I stopped sleeping for months and broke out in ulcers all over my body. While I didn’t understand it at the time, the Lord had allowed an evil spirit to come on me. I could feel it creep up my body, beginning at my toes, every night as I was trying to get to sleep in vain. I had to quit my job and go through intensive therapy just to survive. Finally I gave in and decided that it was time to go home, but not without the baggage of the insomnia hanging over my life. I had fallen into the habit of drinking every night and taking something to make me sleep. It got so bad that I never went anywhere without my bottle.
I moved back home and lived in a family home with my sisters, affectionately dubbed “The house for wayward children.” I was 25, and nowhere near ready to settle down. I chose instead to get a job which would accommodate my habits – I went to work for a Bar. I figured I could work late, until I was exhausted, and drink at the same time, so I’d be assured to sleep at night. This cycle became my life for the next 4 years, as I worked as a bartender. While there, I met a girl who was hired as a folk singer to entertain in my bar. She turned out to be a Christian that felt it was her ministry to sing in the bar. She sang wholesome music and talked about Jesus. She once told me that she was as much of God as some of those people in the bar would ever see. God was obviously at work again, and still I didn’t connect the dots.
While working at the bar, a bartender friend introduced me to his buddy, who I thought was really cute. It didn’t matter much to me at the time that he was still married, albeit working on getting divorced. Even the fact that he had a 3 year old son didn’t faze me much. I was so selfish, and I just wanted what I wanted, and nobody was going to get in my way of getting it. Soon after, he moved in with me and a short time later we were engaged to be married. This is where my life got really interesting.
My fiancé’ began working for an Acrylics company owned by a man and his wife who were later to become Pastors. They were Christians and apparently deeply involved with a church in the middle of revival – Brownsville Assembly of God. My fiancés boss was always trying to get him to go to the revival. The couple had been praying for him to be saved. One Friday, they bribed him to go to church by offering to pay him for the afternoon and let him off early. He agreed to go and asked me if I wanted to go too. I asked him if he was crazy! Who wanted to go to church on a Friday night, besides, I had to work. Well, he got saved that night but he didn’t tell me. He just started acting really strange and distant around the house. Little did I know that he was counseling with a Pastor at the church and fully convicted about our living arrangements.
One day I came home from work and the invitations to our wedding were missing from the house. I called my fiancé, and he told me he had taken them. All of a sudden I started noticing other things were gone too. He had moved out, and finally, on that phone call, he told me why. He told me all kinds of things that he had been counseling about – things about being unequally yoked, and me being a temptation, and Eve with the apple. I was in shock, and so mad I could have killed someone, especially that Pastor who told him all that stuff. How dare he! I had already bought my wedding dress and rented the hall and reception area. I wanted to talk to that Pastor and give him a piece of my mind, and I set up an appointment with him right away. I was so mad when I got there that I was shaking, but amazingly he turned out to be a really nice man, and was fully able to explain and guide me. He even gave me my first bible. I left feeling much better, but my situation had not changed.
Our engagement was off, and I gave him back the ring, but he kept on me about going to revival. He wanted me to go just once. So, to get him off my back, I decided to go to just one service, on Thursday, February 1st 1996. I remember walking in the service, really nervous about what I might see. I mean, these were holy rollers, right? Didn’t they speak in tongues and roll all over the floor? Hadn’t I heard something about snakes once? I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t what I found there. The place was huge, and packed. The worship was unbelievable, and the atmosphere heavy. Of course, I didn’t understand at the time that it was the spirit of God moving powerfully. When the evangelist called the alter call, I told myself in my head that I wasn’t going to go up there, but suddenly I was there, as if the hand of God had picked me up.
I was saved that night, and the weight of the world seemed to fall off of my shoulders. I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself for the first time in my life. Suddenly I was different. I thought different and believed different, and I didn’t need the bottle anymore. I was miraculously freed of addiction.
I quit my job, and began a journey with Jesus that continues today. Now I was equally yoked, but all I wanted was Jesus. I spent another 6 months learning about Him before He miraculously sent a word that brought me and my fiancé back together again in marriage. 13 years and 2 beautiful children later, we are still together working in ministry and following the will of the Lord. It hasn’t always been easy, but there is nothing more fulfilling in the whole world than living in the will of God.