Every believer has one.
When If they talk about it they’ll use different terms.
Some people say it was when they “turned their life around”, when they “got straight”, “got right”, “got saved”. There’s the “when God found me” or “I found God” crowd.
It’s their testimony. The one that separates their life before (they started believing and living for God) and after.
For some people, it’s not that much different, the before and after. For some people, it was just a subtle change in focus – from themselves to God.
For most people though, I think it was more like mine. A dramatic change.
When I reflect on my life so far, I actually see my life in 3 different parts. This may take awhile…go ahead and get a cup of coffee and get comfortable.
In the beginning…just kidding. Seriously – I was born to a couple of fairly young (21) marines. My mom had come from a small town and was a believer but was not going to church at the time. My dad was not a believer and had been raised Catholic (in theory not practice). My parents did not abuse me, they spoiled me. They did not neglect me, they loved me. They did a lot right and made lots of mistakes, too. When I was about 7 or 8 my mom started taking me to a VERY small church in our small town. I like to joke that it was one of those “hell,fire and brimstone” types of churches. You know where the preachers jump on the pews and foam at the mouth. Their were approximately 45 people who attended and I was related to 30 of them. My mom was faithful to take me from that age on. I assume this is because she had rededicated her life to God and was trying to live for Him. I made a profession of faith at 9 years old and I do believe that I was saved then. I’ll explain why later. By the time I was a teen though, I had had enough of the Bible thumping and was rebelling from going with my mom at all. I would scream and yell “why do I have to go – dad doesn’t go! Those people are crazy!” I was starting to wear pants on Sunday mornings and actually take whatever Stephen King novel I was engrossed in at the time. I was a real brat. The me now wants to go back and smack the me then.
All of that aside, I really was having a pretty strong crisis of faith, I didn’t think I even believed in God anymore. I kept being a “good girl” though. I didn’t start doing drugs or run away from home or anything. As I entered high school though, my crisis of faith, my social anxieties, my poor self-image and the distance and rebellion from my parents led to starting to do what my peers were doing. I increasingly lied, I failed my classes, I social drank at parties, I gave away my innocence, and then my senior year it was taken away by force.
After barely graduating, I moved to Knoxville (about an hour from my hometown) and started UT. I continued on my path of self-destruction, wasting away all the opportunities that had been given to me. I was 18 years old and by the time I was 19 I had flunked out of UT. I spent the next couple of years moving from job to job, boyfriend to boyfriend, roommate to roommate. I took a few college classes at a community college, accumulating more and more student loan debt.
When I was 21, I met a guy, he asked me to marry him, we moved in together and we did get married. What I did not know was that he was using drugs and cheating on me even before we got married. We were married 6 weeks before he walked out. For good. I was devastated. Not because of him necessarily, but because of the betrayal, the rejection, and how I was failing in every area of my life.
We had bought a house. When he left I had so much debt and so little money coming in that I didn’t know what I would do.
Enter a witness…I worked with several Christians at the time. One of my co-workers decided she would get me a devotional, invite me to church and tell me constantly she was praying for me. Honestly, it was a little annoying. But, my parents were living 12 hours away at the time and I felt COMPLETELY alone. So I did go with her. Things were spiraling out of control. I couldn’t make my house payment, my credit card payments, buy groceries. And I was trying my best to get this
jerk guy to come back and get his stuff and sign divorce papers. It was all drama, chaos and pain.
After an especially hard shift at work, I came home and just sat in the extra bedroom of that little house. I sat on the carpet and tried to call someone to talk to, only it was really late and I couldn’t bother my mom. And my 2 best friends at the time had gotten married just a few months before me and were tucked in happily with their new husbands. I started to just cry and wail (you know the ugly kind) I was crying out and felt literal physical pain! I kept saying over and over “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t do this! What am I going to do? I can’t live like this! No one loves me, no one cares, no one wants me! Please! Please! Help!! Help me!!!” It’s been almost 13 years and I really can remember it like it was yesterday. My heart hurt, my head hurt, my pain was so overwhelming.
Then it was gone. Just like that. Peace. I heard God say to me “I am still here.”
And that was it.
I knew He was there and I knew I had left Him.
I knew I was still His child. That I had been since I was 9.
It really did feel like coming home after a long, painful journey.
God wanted me back. He showed me how much in the next days, weeks and months. The realtor put the sign in my yard on a Sunday. My house sold on Monday. I needed a place to live but had no money for deposits or rent. My boss at the group home I worked at offered for me to move into a staff apartment and live there rent free. The divorce papers were signed and went through without contest.
He was in the details. He loved me like I had never been loved.
During the year that followed I had a lot of healing to do and a lot of learning. I leaned on God to help me stop the things in my life that were causing me to self-destruct. God knew my heart. He knew I wanted a husband and family more than anything. During one of my counseling sessions with a Christian counselor, she suggested I write out exactly what I desired to have in a husband. This was an exercise not only to help me ask God directly for what I needed, but also so I wouldn’t continue to compromise. I had settled for so long. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to be faithful and wait for the best God had for me.
Here is the letter I wrote to God:
I am going to make a list of things I want in a man and how I would like to be in a relationship so that I won’t compromise anymore! I know that I need to put my trust in you and allow you to work it all out. I want a man who is sensitive. I mean someone who knows when I am sad or hurt and who cares enough to ask “what’s wrong” or give me a hug. I want someone who has warm eyes and smile and a deep voice. I want someone who most of all I can LAUGH with. Someone who will treat me with respect! Never curse me! Always be willing to listen, who knows me well enough to buy me a book, cd or piece of jewelry that I would have picked out myself. Is this asking too much? I don’t think so, because all anyone has to do is observe a loved one to know what they gain joy from. I would like to have a companion that enjoys going to restaurants, movies, traveling, hiking and adventures of any kind. Someone who is strong but not silent. Someone who will talk to me and hold me for hours. Someone who will want to give me a back or foot massage. Someone who is motivated to help his family and people in general. Someone who is active in church and loves and respects You. Someone who will know the importance of teaching our children of all of your blessings. A man who will call me 2 or 3 times a day, or at least just to say “hello”. Someone who will keep their word and not make excuses. Someone who will play Scrabble with me and soccer or basketball or football with his buddies or our kids. I know I need to feel beautiful on my own but someone who will make me believe that he truly feels that I am desirable and attractive (even when I am grumpy and irritable). Someone who respects and appreciates their mother and father. Someone who is taller than me, even just a little. Someone who will reach for my hand anytime. Someone who isn’t lazy or a slob. Someone who appreciates all I do for them, who can accept responsibility for mistakes and accept compliments. That’s all for now but I’ll add more as I think of it. I love you!!!
And less than a year later I was dating Chris, now my husband of 10 years. God is so good. If any of you know my husband, you know that God answered my whole detailed, picky list. It’s unbelievable to me how God is in the details of our lives.
Share your testimony with someone.
You may think it’s not glamorous (or gory) enough to matter but it does. If someone doesn’t have that relationship with Christ, then your testimony could be the one thing they hear that convinces them to seek out God.
Why keep all this GRACE and love to yourself?