I always believed in God. From a young age, I knew someone was up “there”. I used to lay on the lawn, searching for a wink, or something to let me know he was looking down on me. Having not grown up in the church, other than a few holiday visits, and splatter stops throughout the year, I had no real idea of what God was, where he was, or who I was to Him. Somehow, I knew he existed, even though no one ever really told me, and I didn't know where.
I was given a beautiful set of porcelain praying hands when I was 5. I used to put my little fingers over them, and close my eyes. They were very special to me. As my life grew more stressful in the, what I call, ‘fun house’- I used those hands often, just to hold them. I grew up with a monster- a predator. I was threatened into silence, abused nightly, and had to pretend all was fine during the day. It didn’t take long before I was a textbook example of an abused girl, promiscuous and searching for that love and security I never had. Even after I became a single mother at an early age, graduated high school, and tried to move away- he would appear at my doorstep, knocking on my door. He knew I was inside, but I never answered. I would take my kids and hide in my bedroom. One time he sat outside my door for over an hour- just to frighten me. He had that power over me- always had. This is fear.
I was tired; tired of life, pain, humiliation and being afraid. After a horrific brain injury at the age of 20, my fiancée woke up from a coma with a distorted memory, and seemingly retreated back in time to a much earlier age. My daughter was only a month old, and we were a month away from getting married when this happened. I was devastated and quickly fell into a depression. I was a single mother, out on my own for the first time, and I was scared. Life was intimidating- and hadn’t been kind. By the age of 20, I’d seen struggles that most people never have to see. There I sat, with no job, no home, no anything- but two kids, two innocent children that needed me. I refused to move back home, and had no choice but to figure it out. This is brokenness.
With the help of my mother, I finished a trade school program and found myself working in an office during my internship with a very joy filled, young lady. She had an obvious heart for people, and showed me genuine care from the first minute we met. She also hired me and gave me my first job-post college! We grew closer as time went on, and we talked about many things. Her beliefs were one of them. She was a Christian. She had been involved with Christ and his ministry her entire life. I had no idea what a relationship in Christ was, or how you got one, but she was patient and kind, and we talked a little more each day about Jesus, and love-true love. She began to teach me about that relationship, with sincere love.
One day, I mentioned that my 5 year old son had asked me about rainbows, and that I wasn’t sure how to explain a rainbow to him at that age. My sweet friend was shocked to learn I never knew about rainbows and Bible stories- and she lovingly explained the story of Noah to me. Something clicked in her mind, and she said “Come to church with me on Sunday!”
For the first time, I stepped into church with my children, as a single mom, that broken person, deeply scarred and with very little hope in much of anything. Still, through all that, I felt good being there. I hung my head slightly lower for some time- I thought I was the ‘bad one’, the one that didn’t belong, the bottom of the bottom- I was the sinner. Slowly, I began reading my Bible, attending studies and learning that every person in that church was a sinner, that we all screwed up somewhere along the way! I learned that Jesus came for people just like me! This is mercy!
Everything I thought I was eventually washed away. It was like receiving a brand new coloring book- every page of my life was ready to be beautifully created once again! Every negative thought, every harsh word, every threat, every night in complete numbness, every day walking in shadows- I was released, refreshed and renewed. Jesus called out to me during the song “Amazing Grace” and after a year of study, a year of believing in His love, I walked up and into the arms of my Jesus Christ- accepting Him into my heart on December 27, 1997, as my Lord and Savior- washed in the waters of baptism and risen in Him. This is redemption!
I wish I could fill you with stories of wonder and perfection from that day on, but that’s not how it goes. I’ve still struggled. I still fought depression, eventually being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I struggled in my marriage for years; I struggled in forgiving the monster of my childhood. I am still growing, I am still being molded. My Jesus and I, we still go rounds here and there! However, together, we have worked to give me a new name- "Overcomer!"
I’ve had some magnificent highs, and some deeply low lows! Still, he is there. When I had to say to God, during my son’s battle with flesh eating bacteria, “You can take my son”, I still loved Jesus. I knew he was still there. When I was locked in the hospital for mental illness- I knew, He was there with me. When I struggled in marriage and thought all was lost- He was right there holding me, coaching me, teaching me and loving me. The greatest lesson ever-knowing that I was never alone again. I wouldn’t walk any road- be it a joyous one or difficult one, without His love, guidance and help. Because of his amazing and ever present love, I live free from all I once was, I live in peace, unlike the turmoil of my past, and I live with acceptance, as a daughter of the King! This is love!
The first scripture I read on the day I received my first bible- opened right up to this:
1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” 5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. 8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” 12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. 16 Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord— in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.