Junior Jess Forgey said she found God, lying on the floor of a chapel, when her life shattered to pieces.
Forgey grew up in Ellensburg, Wash. In her home, God was known, but Christianity was not practiced.
“My grandmother was a crazy, radical God-lover. But my home was not a Christian home except for some holidays we would go to church,” Forgey said.
During her freshman year of high school, Forgey’s home situation began deteriorating due to adultery and violence.
“Between the chaos at my house, the lack of support from family, my heightened health problems and my difficulty with fitting in at my new school, drugs started to seem like an appealing option,” Forgey said.
Forgey’s family had a history of alcohol and drug use.
“I’ve always had the idea that I would never touch those things,” Forgey said.
She faced temptation and tried drugs because her life became unbearable.
“Getting stoned was my only purpose to fill a void, which consumed all aspects of my life,” Forgey said.
“I didn’t feel normal unless I was high. It influenced my confidence, but I always felt like a failure because I was in that stereotype as a ‘pot-head,’” Forgey said.
Forgey said she started to drink alcohol until she no longer could function without it.
“I never tried drinking, though, until my senior year [of high school] at age 17. I moved out of my parents’ house [that] winter into my own apartment, which meant that I had no one to answer to,” Forgey said.
Forgey said her relationships suffered when she drank.
“Alcohol changed my personality into a crazy person, and it isolated me from all the people who cared about me,” Forgey said.
At parties, alcohol and drugs took more than just her memory.
“After I did it once, nothing bad happened, and I found out that I’m well-liked when I’m intoxicated. I didn’t see a reason why I shouldn’t try it again. It turned into a dependence, [and I] was drinking four to five nights a week and always passed out,” Forgey said.
After drinking became habitual and her problems grew, she decided to make a change in her life.
“It only took me about a month of social drinking to develop a major problem, which led me to the events of the summer before college that brought me to my knees before God,” Forgey said.
Forgey was baptized during her senior year of high school, but without any family or friends to support her, she relapsed back to drinking.
Emotionally unstable, traumatized and alone, she said her tears dazed her vision as she drove down open roads and found herself in the parking lot of a church.
“I snuck in and locked myself inside the chapel. I lied on the floor for three hours just weeping and asking, ‘God, why me,’ ” Forgey said.
She opened her eyes and then remembered that her family found SPU while exploring Seattle.
“Being the small-town folk that we are, we got majorly lost in the big city and ended up discovering SPU’s campus,” Forgey said.
Forgey believed that God guided her to come to SPU where she lived on Fifth Hill her freshman year.
“After I was done sobbing, I felt God told me clear as day to come to SPU. I mean, I had nothing else to lose, and two days later I moved in,” Forgey said.
After moving in and finishing the first week of school, transitioning at SPU was rough for Forgey.
“Because of the events leading up to college, I had grown bitter toward the little bit knew about God. When I first got to SPU, I was bitter, angry and extremely closed off,” Forgey said.
Strengthened through the tragic experiences throughout her life, Forgey said she found faith in God alone during her freshman year of college.
“Without God I am a recovered alcoholic, drug-user and rape victim. But with God I am a new creation who is loved and cherished with a calling in life,” Forgey said.
After remaining abstinent from alcohol and drugs, and promising to commit her life to God, Forgey later met her husband Ryan LaPlante during Christmas break.
LaPlante recalls that three months into their long distance relationship, his now- wife began having flashbacks of her past and was frightened to tell him about any of it.
“I know she was terrified of telling me her past, but it made me love her more,” LaPlante said.
Forgey became bed ridden for four days and felt depressed due to flash backs and night terrors.
“In March of my freshman year while living on Fifth Hill, I started to remember the events of [my past that] I had blocked out due to PTSD,” Forgey said.
Later that day, he drove about six hours from Lewiston, Idaho, to see Forgey after she became bed ridden for four days and felt depressed due to flash backs and night terrors from her past.
“Remembering caused severe flashbacks, nightmares and started a long journey of emotionally processing what had happened. I really just wanted to hide away from everyone, lie in bed and think about it over and over again,” Forgey said.
LaPlante didn’t think twice and knew he needed to be there with her.
“I called her on the phone and she told me ‘not to come see her’ and how she ‘didn’t want me there.’ But I knew she needed me. I left work with nothing packed and drove six hours to be with her,” LaPlante said.
By mid June they got married.
“We got married June 15, 2013 and I can clearly see God in our marriage. I now have someone to hold me accountable for my faith in God. [Ryan] pointed out areas that I was gifted in and didn’t know that even existed,” Forgey said.
Forgey’s faith has developed and has become more evident to her husband.
“Jess is very passionate about God. She has always been persistent and faithful in her walk with God,” LaPlante said.
Junior Whitney Dickey is Forgey’s close friend of two years. She has seen her transform into a stronger person spiritually.
“From watching Jess at the beginning of freshman year, go from a punk kid at the beginning of the quarter, to a deep-seated, on-fire believer for Christ was overwhelming but fascinating at the same time,” Dickey said.
Forgey said the fire in her heart remains ignited because of God and his blessings.
“Right after I really dedicated myself to God, I went through a time being consumed with my faith. I would skip class to pray because nothing else mattered,” Forgey said.
Forgey said her relationship with God is the most important thing in her life.
“In the last year, I have really devoted being consistent with God and really trying to turn to him for everything,” she said. I am in a really fruitful place with my walk with God.”