The Unlovable One: Danielle Sinopoli
Danielle Sinopoli spent most of her life in the Huntsville area and grew up in Madison, Alabama. She found Jesus when she was 20 years old and started attending Willowbrook Baptist Church a year later. She has been married to Daniel for 4 years and just recently become a mom to Savannah. Danielle left the engineering profession after 10 years to be a stay at home mom. Her faith and family mean everything to her.
The Unlovable One
10 years ago, my life fell apart. My world was dark and full of despair. I felt I could not escape the mess I was in. I felt alone, scared, and desperate, but most of all, broken. Still, God was able to rebuild me completely and introduce me to a life I’d only dreamed of. I am living proof that no one is too far gone for Jesus. His love reaches into the depths of our messes and loves us right where we are.
Growing up I went to church only occasionally. I learned there was a God in the sky who loved me, but my knowledge of God stopped there, as did my concept of love. From as early as I can remember, I felt like I didn’t really belong anywhere, no matter where I was or who I was with. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me and longed for someone to explain or validate my feelings. When I finally found the courage to reach out, I was disregarded. As a child, this was devastating. It was confirmation that something was indeed wrong with me and that I must be weird. I believed my feelings were so different than everyone else’s so I hid it and pretended I was ok even though that was so far from the truth.
As a pre-teen, I believed that if God were real, He would make me happy. When that didn’t happen, I decided God either wasn’t real, or He didn’t love me. It was then that I turned completely away from the idea of God’s existence and didn’t look back for 8 years. I started smoking, drinking, doing drugs and chasing boys in an attempt to find love, purpose and drown my feelings. By the time I was 15, I was drinking close to every day. My goal was to numb the pain and forget how much I hated being me. I would do just about anything to get enough substances to make that happen. During that time, I went from bedroom to bedroom, believing that if I visited enough of them, I was bound to find someone to love me, someone to tell me that I mattered; but I did not. Instead, the shame from my decisions increased my desire to drink, and the more I drank, the worse my decisions became. Alcohol quickly became my idol, the thing I put my complete faith in, the thing I loved most in the world. It controlled me.
Eventually the drinking and the drugs quit working. I could no longer escape from the hopelessness that I felt. I often wondered what was wrong with me and why I kept doing these things. I began to try to stop drinking but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even do normal, everyday activities like put gas in my car or check the mail without being intoxicated. Satan had me right where he wanted me. It felt like darkness surrounded me and I could see no way out. The terrible thoughts and feelings overwhelmed me and I was stricken with fear and bewilderment. By the time I reached college, I believed that I would die alone, miserable and drunk. I believed that the world would be a better place if I was no longer in it. I began to plan my suicide. Then one night while I was alone in my room, sobbing from the feeling of despair, a thought crossed my mind: ”What if my life could have a different ending?” I fell to my knees and prayed “God, if you are there… please, help me.” I meant it from the bottom of my heart. I NEEDED to be rescued.
God answered my prayer in a way I never expected. Certain events led me to move home from college and join Alcoholics Anonymous. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done but something amazing happened. As I listened to people share their experiences, strength and hope, I found I could relate. They talked about fear and I knew I was afraid of everything. I finally knew what was wrong with me… I was an alcoholic. And with that revelation, my life began to radically change.
I started attending AA meetings regularly. In Alcoholics Anonymous, I experienced unconditional love in a way I never had before. I was loved and shown grace right where I was in my journey and not held to any tough standards. I struggled to get sober at first, but I kept going back to meetings and eventually figured out that I was not alone anymore. It was working. I was beginning to get sober. The most pivotal point in my life was the day that I was told that God loved me. I was told that no matter what I had done, He loved me for exactly who I was. I melted. I thought: “Me? The unlovable one?” Just the simple idea that someone could love me through all I had done gave me a reason to live. I wanted to know this God. No, I NEEDED to know this God. I began searching to know more in a way I had never searched for anything before.
The second most important thing I learned was the power of prayer. At first, I didn’t know how to pray, but someone explained to me that prayer is simply talking to God just like you would a best friend. So I talked to Him ALL the time. I told God everything. I told Him I didn’t think He was real, that I didn’t understand what had happened to me, that I hated my life and that I was sad and ashamed of who I was…. I poured my heart out to Him day after day. For a little while I felt nothing, but the more I prayed and the more I searched for Him, the more I began to feel things I had never felt before. I felt hope for the first time. I knew that things would get better, that my life could change. In Jeremiah 29:12-13, God says: “when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” This has been the central truth in my life, both on my quest to find God and even today as I continue to seek to know Him deeper. Prayer changed me, changed my perspective, and ultimately changed my life.
Ten years have passed since I first met God. When I reflect back on my life, I am blown away at the difference between the woman I am today and who I was before I knew Him. It makes me sad to think about who I used to be, but I also know that God used every single tear and ounce of hurt that I experienced to draw me closer to Him. He didn’t waste a single thing. He used all of my experiences to mold me and He was there through it all, whether I realized it or not. God says in Isaiah 1:18 “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow”, and that is what He did for me. I am a new creation, clean in His eyes. I will always know just how very much I need Jesus. He is my rescuer, my refuge, my source of comfort, my best friend, and my gracious and loving savior. His love changed everything about me.