A series for those of us that need the reminder that God is still in the business of changing lives.
Memories and thoughts are fluid sometimes. As I get older and as I grow closer to my God, the story of how I came to be here changes.
A few years ago I would have emphasized my father’s alcoholism and the pressure I felt to be the perfect daughter.
Years before that I would have probably blamed my condition on my early exposure to sex and the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of people I trusted.
Nowadays I am painfully aware of the fact that most of what I suffered through was my own darkness. The other influences only served to heighten their appearance and effect.
At the age of fourteen, I began stealing cigarettes from my dad, sneaking out of the house at night, and getting involved with other activities that I knew were harmful. At sixteen I fell deep into a life of drugs, sex, and rebellion from everything. At seventeen I became pregnant, just months before I was to graduate high school. All through high school I managed to maintain my grades, I even got honors and was on several clubs. I had received a full scholarship to a small Midwestern college, but I had to give it all up. I married my then boyfriend on my 18th birthday, moved to North Carolina, and gave birth to our daughter.
I thought having a husband and child would change my life, my lack of self esteem, and my addictions. Things did seem to change, for a while. But before long, I was depressed, addicted to prescription pills, and cutting myself. I was seeing a counselor for the abuse I endured as a child, but all she ever told me to do was to “find my inner child”. The only way I knew how to do that was go out and party, try to “live life”. But it made me feel so empty inside. I ended up cheating on my husband, separating from him. My life was torn apart; I was alone with my daughter, jobless, drug addicted, and so lonely.
My husband and I remained married, and talked on a regular basis. He was my only financial support, my only friend, and my only family there in North Carolina. Eventually, we decided to work things out, but because of living situations and his nearing end to his stint in the Marines, I decided to go back to the Midwest with family until he could join me.
We both decided that it would be best for me and our daughter to stay with his parents. His dad was a pastor and they had offered to let us stay there until other arrangements could be made. They had a larger house and it just seemed for some odd reason to be the best choice.
They invited me into their home without any hesitation. I was always ashamed of the pain I had put them through by getting pregnant and being utterly rebellious, but they showed me a love I had never felt before.
Only two weeks after we arrived, I had learned more about God than my entire childhood of Sunday school and church. I saw God in such a real, everyday way that I began asking questions and discovering more about heaven and the person Jesus Christ.
One night, in my bedroom downstairs, as I was reading a book about marriage I had found on a bookcase. I felt a rush of emotion, a presence that I knew was God; more specifically Jesus Christ. I got off my bed immediately and fell to my knees and just confessed all the sins that had entangled me for so long. I cried and cried and asked God’s forgiveness and asked Christ to redeem me from myself! Immediately my spirit was lightened, like a heavy load being taken off your shoulders. I felt at peace for the first time in my life.
I was ashamed to tell my in-laws that I had been saved; I didn’t know what they would say or what anyone would say. They noticed a change in me right away though, and I think they knew from the questions I began to ask about living for Christ. I had to struggle to overcome some of the sin that had been in my life for so long, and I am still struggling, but I knew then that sin was no longer my master, Christ Jesus was.
I told my husband over the phone that I had been saved, and he rejoiced with me. He also rededicated his life to the Lord on his own, and we re-united a few months later. Now, we are working to put Christ at the center of our marriage.
Every day I see how much I don’t deserve His love and grace because of my failures and lack of trust. My life is one imperfect, under construction, growing, changing testimony of God’s grace, love, and power, and our need for Him!!