Whenever I’m asked to give my testimony, I always get this image of kicking back on a therapist’s couch and starting with, “Well, you know Doctor, it all started like this…” And I guess that would be somewhat accurate. Because in order for a person to understand just how much God has changed me, I have to begin by showing a bit of who I was before coming to Christ. So here is a glimpse of my story (with most of the gory details left out).
A Life Turned Upside Down
I don’t come from a church-going Christian background. It wasn’t the main subject in our house growing up. I did come from a traditional home with a Dad who worked and a Mom who stayed at home. Until I reached the age of 14 and watched my Dad die of a heart attack on our living room floor.
This flipped my life upside-down. He was not a believer that I know of and I was very new to learning about Christianity at the time. Our family had no support to fall back on. We lost everything and went from being upper middle class to the wrong side of the tracks overnight. The few experiences we had with the local church were negative, very judgmental and it wasn’t a place we could turn to for help. Faith would be put on a back burner for a few more years.
My experience through high school is similar to many other “youngest” kids experiences. I entered HS in 10th grade, my brother was in 11th, my sister was in 12th. We all shared friends and each year I lost more and more friends to graduation and the military and colleges until eventually in my senior year, I had 2 friends left and never saw them. I tried to fit in with the Christian crowd but that didn’t work out. I just didn’t get it and my best friend saw that. It hurt me but I can look back and see where she was coming from now. I didn’t see it at the time though. My senior year I went to school during the day and worked until 10-11pm at night. My mom worked nights so we saw each other in passing.
Freedom to Screw Up
Like many “baby adults” I turned 18 and went totally nuts. I got in with the cruising crowd where my life became a blur of men and parties. I had already started smoking and drinking. My life was all about drowning out the pain until I became numb. I also had to grow up quickly because I had my first son when I was 19. While I quit the partying after my son was born, I was still screwed up.
One relationship after another followed me and it seemed I was bent on my own destruction. I was searching for someone strong enough to save me from myself. What I found was a string of relationships that taught me that physical pain was like a drug and I had no need to feel anything beyond the flesh.
Our souls were made for more though and to fill the void inside I got into solitary Wicca, druidism, nature spirituality and the like. Anything and everything that didn’t condemn or convict me for how I was living.
I was truly lost.
When I was 28 the army came knocking on my door. My 29-year-old brother was dead. After 3 more years of investigation, we were told he had committed suicide. I don’t know if he came to Christ before he died or not. I leave that in God’s hands.
It was another tragedy I failed to deal with and in my early thirties, my 2nd son was born.
God Softens My Heart, Opens my Eyes
After my second son was born I knew I needed to make some changes. I decided I needed to look to the future. I enrolled in online college, I became a “prepper” and was suddenly obsessed with “End of the world” books. This was not like me at all. My mom turned me onto the Left Behind series. What was strange is that I agreed to read them even knowing they were about Jesus. Before this point, even the mention of His name had me rolling my eyes. But not this time. I was a couple of books into the series and I started re-investigating Christianity and listening to Pastors on the radio. Some say that the Left Behind series is just fear-mongering but that isn’t true. At least, not with my experience. The prepping, the idea of being left behind at the Rapture, my search into Christianity…this wasn’t born out of a “fear”. All I can say is that when you are ready to hear His message, things become crystal clear and that happens in “the blink of an eye”. There is no room for fear with God.
God was moving fast and took the blinders off of me. I was seeing myself, as myself, and wow…I hated what I saw. I hated what I had become, how I had lived, how I thought, how I acted. God showed me the truth about myself and it wasn’t pretty. I had hurt so many people by my actions and with my words, but the person I hurt the most was myself. And it didn’t matter that those I hurt were not believers. They were the lost like I was. I lost both the men in my family, they were dead, both possibly in unbelief. I don’t want to lose my sons that way too.
One night driving home from work, I was listening to one of my radio Pastors and I prayed “the prayer”, which is nothing more than confessing to God what He already knows, that I’m a sinner and I know it and there is nothing I can personally do to make that right. I accepted the truth that Jesus died, in my place, on that cross. It’s not about what I can do, but what Jesus did. In fact, every night for the next week I prayed the same prayer over and over just to make sure it “stuck” this time. And boy did it ever! I craved the Bible after that and read through the entire Bible at lightening speed. It took me less than 3 months and I remember thinking that there were books in there I’d never seen before!
I had lived pretty much my entire life without crying. I took pride in the fact that no matter how bad it got, I wouldn’t cry (in front of anyone anyway). Coming from the lifestyle I came from, that’s a pretty good accomplishment. During this time, I think I cried every night. God was healing me from the inside out. Every truth about myself revealed by God led to revelations in just how badly I treated people and how much I hurt myself in the process. The emotional/psychological pain during this initial period was immense but there was also peace to be found. God comforted me. That’s when I realized I wasn’t numb anymore.
Simple Down, Learning to Live for God
I called on Christ to save me at the end of January 2013, and He did. Since that time I’ve had a peace inside I could only dream of before. I’m not living scared anymore, I’m not numb and I’m no longer searching for anything or anyone to fill the void.
I’m focusing on cutting out the extra’s in my life and living life more simply. Let’s face it, I’ve made a mess of my life on my own and now it’s time to do life His way. God didn’t jump down here and wave a magic wand and make everything all better. But He did come into me and give me peace and wrap His arms around me in love. He has shown me that He Has always been there with me. When I thought I was alone, I wasn’t. Now I’m learning to live for Him and not myself. I’m learning to forgive myself and remember that I am loved.
After a year of prayer and doing battle with my own pride to finish what I started, I decided to drop out of college. I still have mountains of debt and no degree but I’m not being led down that path. God definitely has plans for me but a college degree, at least at this point, is not part of the plan. After dropping out I felt such an immense weight lifted off my shoulders and I knew it was the right decision. It isn’t the logical decision by any stretch of the imagination, and the weight of the debt should squish me but it isn’t. It’s just money and God is providing for my every need. My pride suffered greatly because I was counting on a piece of paper to validate my worth, but I think that is why leaving this path is a good thing and I thank God for humbling me through it. My worth cannot be measured with a piece of paper.
God is Alive and Active and Real
A lot of people don’t believe that God takes an active role in our lives, but He does. These are just some of the experiences I’ve had and changes God has made in me:
- I can feel again, I’m not numb emotionally.
- I have peace, I’m not always on edge or restless.
- When I learned to submit to His strength, He broke the chains of addiction (smoking) for me. Cold turkey, labor day of 2014, not a single craving! Zero withdrawal on His strength and not my own. Update: 3+ years later – still smoke-free and have never had a craving!
- Not only did He set me free from smoking after 24 years, He did the same for my mom who had been smoking for 50+ years, again …Zero Withdrawal, not a single craving. Update: 3+ years later – still smoke-free!
- The 3-year gypsy itch cycle is broken. I have no need to up and move all the time because I know that my “home” is not going to be found here. I don’t suffer from that unrest anymore.
- I am content being without a man. I’m learning to lean on Jesus rather than a man and He has not let me down. 2018- getting stronger every day and happy!
- My family relationships have been healed. My sister, mom and I are all saved now. God opened our hearts and drew our family members closer. 2017 – working on getting physically closer as well but we’ll see what doors God opens up for us when the time comes. Still praying for others in our family to come to God.
- 2018 is bringing us closer to family, in fact, about a block away! God is so good! A few weeks ago (March/April) I had all but lost hope. We couldn’t find a rental, nothing was working out. Then I got on my knees in prayer, gave it all to Him. Suddenly, we got the money to buy a 29′ travel trailer, found one, bought it and have it moved to an rv park a block away from family. It doesn’t get any better than that! All glory to God!
- God led me to a church that is welcoming just a couple months ago and worship has become something I look forward to. 2018 – Still attending church weekly and loving it and my church family. Can’t imagine life without other believers anymore.
- God and I are working on my twisted relationship with food now. I am giving all my trust to Him and His strength to see me through this struggle. My focus is on Him, not on food and I’m losing weight now. 2017 – On-going work-in-progress. God is faithful and so am I. 2018 – Still a work in progress. When I focus on Him, I lose. When life distracts me, I gain. I won’t give up. Success will be in His timing not mine.
- I’m an upfront and honest person so when I came to faith it took a long time for me to confess my sins to God. God helped me identify them, opened my eyes to them and then helped me unburden them. In the process, which is on-going, He is showing me that I’m not only confessing my own portion of the sin but I’ve been taking on others too. For some reason fessing up to my own responsibility for the choices in life wasn’t enough for me, I had been accepting the guilt of others too. I have to stop that and leave others with their share. (Yeah…crazy!)
- On a sadder note, my Sammy cat, my babygirl of 15 years, has gastrointestinal lymphoma. There hasn’t been a miracle healing or anything but each time I’m losing it and agonizing over the decision to euthanize her, or crying because I watch her struggle to lay down, I pray to Him. My heavenly Father and my Lord, and I ask for peace if it’s His will. I pray about how much I love this cat, His creation, how much joy she has given me and I pray to be reunited with her on the other side. I pray for her not to suffer and for forgiveness if this is wrong. He has given me a peace I can’t explain.
- There has been so much more but I can’t record it all here.
I am a new believer. In the past couple of years, God has shown me so much of Himself. Little “miracles” and not so little ones surround us. I thank God daily for all His blessings and for providing for all our needs. My life is far from perfect, but I know that with God, it will be all right. My next step sometime this year will be baptism now that I have found a church. Update: My youngest son and I were baptized in the presence of our local church on 8/16/15 at Summit Lake in Olympia! 2017 – still growing in my faith. I’m at a point where I don’t feel like a “baby” anymore but I’m not fully “mature” either. Taking it a step at a time following God.
I hope others will be able to see that no matter where you are in life, no matter what addictions you suffer from or how much or how big your sin, God is strong enough to love you through it if you just surrender to Him. It doesn’t matter if you are addicted to smoking, drinking, sex, gambling, pain, pleasure, control, or drugs…God is stronger than any and all your addictions.
You can’t fix yourself first and then come to God. You’ll be waiting forever. God will meet you wherever you are and then you better just sit back and hang on! God is not content to sit back and leave things broken, He is a God of change and creation and He will work to create a new you!
May you open your heart to God’s grace and mercy and love and find your home with Him~