A Testimony from Stephanie Sullivan

» Posted on Dec 30, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off on A Testimony from Stephanie Sullivan

“Stephanie, I don’t believe that God would punish you through me just because of what you write.” 

It was a conversation that my husband, Shawn, and I had frequently during the spring of 2010, not long after he was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. In the blink of an eye, life as we knew it changed in numerous ways. The next couple of weeks were a blur as we rode the emotional roller coaster that took us from newly diagnosed to an extensive surgical procedure that we prayed fervently would keep Shawn from having to endure chemotherapy. He was referred to a surgical oncologist hundreds of miles away at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and as we made preparations for our trip there, I was secretly overcome with guilt. 

When I signed my first book contract in the summer of 2008, I was elated but also very disappointed in myself. Why, you might ask? Because instead of putting my God-given talent toward something that would make Him proud, I chose to write erotica. Within the span of two years, I signed seven more book contracts, but these weren’t stories with sweet endearments and the promise of ever-lasting love, like I had always dreamed of writing—no, these were adult-oriented and extremely explicit. I received praise from several book critics, but those were always short-lived celebrations, because in the end the remorse I felt was overwhelming. Here I was, a mature Christian woman, raised in a wonderful Christian household and partaking in something that I knew in my heart and mind to be wrong. How could I have strayed so far off the path God laid out for me? 

That “small, still voice” was never far away, and after Shawn’s cancer diagnosis, that voice grew even louder. After relaying my fears to Shawn that God was punishing him for what I had been doing, he was quick to reassure me that this wasn’t the case, but my conscious wouldn’t rest. I’ve witnessed God’s love and grace in many areas of my life, but I’ve also seen God work in various ways in order to get my attention, and many of those instances have left me broken and on my knees. Perhaps this wasn’t God’sway of directing me toward the right path…but what if it was? 

It was then that I made the decision to change. Shawn’s illness was the catapult that finally put me on the right path, but it wasn’t the first time I had felt God tugging at my heart when it came to writing. Since signing that first book contract in the summer of 2008, a downward spiral began in many areas of my life, which over time created an enormous gap in my relationship with God that I feared was impossible to mend. Through His infinite grace, Shawn was healed, and since then I have also been on my own road to recovery, although in a different way. I stopped writing erotica, and I put every aspect of that “other life” behind me and began the task of moving forward. I prayed diligently for God to show me what I needed to do with the gift of expression he had bestowed upon me, and my answer came in the form of two inspirational romance books that I stumbled upon one day while rummaging through some book bins at my local library. These types of romance stories were brand new to me, even though they’d been around for many years. I don’t know why I had never taken the time to read them before, but after devouring these two library books in one day, I knew in my heart that God had led me to them for a very special reason. Now, I’m in the process of writing my first inspirational romance story, and my passion for writing has been renewed in a different and truly magical way. Gone is the shame and the guilty conscious that had once plagued me on a daily basis. I wake up each morning excited over what I feel God has in store for me in the days, months, and years to come. 

In this upcoming new year – and always – I hope that God is the center of each goal YOU set forth to accomplish. These days I hold steadfast to God’s promise in Proverbs 16:3, which states “Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved”. It’s my prayer that you will hold this promise close to your heart too.