A “People-Pleaser” Turns Broken Life Over to God
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“I couldn't stand my life. And that's why I tried to end my life so many times. I tried to commit suicide more times than I've been arrested because I hated my life,” said Melisha Johnson. She grew up with low self-esteem, in the shadows of her two older sisters. Her parent’s divorce wounded her soul and she began stealing, manipulating, and sleeping around - anything to fill the void.
She continued, “I hated myself. I felt unworthy. I felt dirty. I felt like I was just ugly. And I just...nobody wanted to be my friend. And that's when I started buying friends because I felt like nobody loved me enough. So, I had to do something to get people to be in my life.”
She was raised as a Christian, but by the time she was 20 she had a son with a married man, stole from her mom to buy things for her friends, and was arrested for writing bad checks. “At the beginning it was more of a rush because I knew that I can get some extra money to pay my bills or take care of my son,” said Melisha. “So if I know somebody had a need, Melisha’s...you know, going to fix it. Melisha’s going to solve the problem. It made me feel good. And it actually boosted my self-esteem up because I was helping somebody. But then I used to feel bad because I was like, 'Melisha, come on, you know, you got to stop this.' But another need would come up.”
She fell into a cycle of stealing and buying people’s affections, all the while still attending church. “Every time I went to church, I cried because (there) was always shame. I was feeling bad. Guilt, convicted, because I knew what I was doing was wrong, and because of my pride and don't want to ask somebody for help, I just could continue to do it feeling bad, but continue to do it.”
“I was always looking over my shoulder. I was always like, okay, what's going to happen if I see a police car riding by? I feel like they (are) looking at me or they thinking about me. I was very paranoid at all times. Always paranoid.”
Melisha was arrested, jailed, and released several times. Even after serving two years in prison, she continued to defraud people, businesses, and corporations. Her financial crimes escalated to the point that now federal agents were involved. Melisha fled to New York with plans to leave the country to fake her death.
“I could not believe that my life had got to this, to where I'm running away, going to go to another country and act like I'm over. Like, what is my family going to think? What is my children going to think?” recalled Melisha. “That their mother is gone? But I couldn't go back to jail. I couldn't face that no more for myself. I couldn't let my family see that again. The church, the world, I couldn't not let people know that Melisha came out, got another chance, and went back to jail. I wasn't gonna let nobody see it, so I was just going to take my life and end it.”
A call from her pastor convinced Melisha to turn herself in. She returned to Georgia full of shame and remorse. Once there, she attempted suicide through an overdose. She landed in a mental hospital, where her pastor came to visit.
She remembered, “He said, 'Daughter, this is not the way.' He said, 'Just tell the truth and leave the rest to God.' And by me doing it, I got a 12 year federal prison sentence, which was the most horrible day of my life because now I'm in prison for 12 years. How am I going to tell my son that his mama is gone again? How am I going to do that? I'm here with murderers. I'm here with child molesters. I'm here with people who I never would associate with. And now we're all mixed up together, and I just wanted my life to be over.”
In prison she got into an altercation with another inmate and was sent to solitary confinement. “It was during that time that I totally like, 'God, what is happening to me? Why am I going through the same things over and over again?'" said Melisha. “I'm in jail...in jail. And that's when I begin to just really surrender to God. And I begin as, 'God help me.' And ask God to change me and make me to a different person because I was tired of my life. I was tired of reliving the same thing over and over again. And it was during that time that I spent like five months in a SHU that I begin to have not just known about God, but I begin to know Him personally.”
Melisha cried out to God from her cell and fully surrendered her life to Jesus. She smiled, “I knew that I had a new life in Christ. I knew that God had a plan for me. So I begin to just bloom where I'm planted. I said, 'Okay, God is not about me, is about you.' So now I'm starting to minister to other people, that’s in the jail praying for them, helping them.”
After serving 10 years of her sentence she was released from prison, having found ultimate freedom while behind bars. “I look at how God, how much He loves me, and that's why I serve Him because of how much He loves me, because of all the things that I've done, from the lying, the stealing, to sleeping with multiple men to married men and just, you know, everything that I've done,” recalled Melisha. “And He still loved me in spite of all that. That just makes me want to reciprocate the love back to Him and just be obedient to Him. But I had to repent. I had to repent for my sins. God forgives, He says, 'Shall we continue to sin that Grace may abound?' Absolutely not. So, I had to repent for my sins and have God help me, and I go a different direction and don't do the same things that I used to do.”
Melisha now serves others by ministering to incarcerated people hoping for a solid return to society. “God is a great God and He is a merciful God," said Melisha. “And I'm just so happy what God is doing in my life and how He's just using me to be able to help others, especially those incarcerated. And is coming out that people can change and people can do better.”
To learn more about Melisha's minstry please visit: www.jesusisthekeytoreentry.com
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