For those of you who have been following my blog for the past couple of weeks, you will know that God has really gotten a hold on me and is making some radical changes in my life, as well as the life of my husband. He has given a new life to our already happy marriage and the way we parent our son. I’ve found over the years that when people start talking about how wonderful their life is and how close they are to Christ, that it’s easy to be discouraged in your own Faith. In years past, people would talk to me about what all God was doing in their lives and, even though I subconsciously knew better, it seemed like they were just always on a Spiritual High. Like, they had never hit rock bottom before and that God was just always present and always at constant work in their lives. It seemed like they spent their days in prayer and worshiping God. Whatever free-time they had was spent in the presence of God. Many years of my young[er] life were spent questioning my own faith because I wasn’t like that. Little did I know, that they weren’t either.
That mentality can be damaging to our own walk, and today, I wanted to share with you that I am not perfect. I am not always on a Spiritual Plateau. I don’t spend each and every single day singing Praise and Worship. I don’t spend nearly as much time studying and praying over God’s word that I should. I have bad habits. I’m a mess. I’m not at ALL together. [This analogy is from my Mom’s Bible Study Class]. If you look at me on the outside, I look put together. Hair in place, makeup on, usually my clothes even match. But, if you take that away, I’m broken. I’m damaged. I’m covered in bruises and scars. I’ve had my damage dealt to me. I’m covered in boo-boo’s and bandaids. This is my story:
I pretty much grew up in church. I was baptized when I was a child-maybe I was 8?- by a pastor who’s name I can’t even remember. [I think it was Bro. Ted?? But, then again, that could be WAAY off…] I knew what being “saved” meant, but at that age it’s hard to decipher what living the life God called us to live is all about. I remember reading my Adventure Bible at night sometimes in my room, but I also remember that I hated Sunday School. I didn’t like my teacher. It was boring. 🙂
The pinnacle of my walk with Christ came when I was a teenager. [Yea, weird right?] Now, if you were to ask my parents, our Youth Group was a social club. And, for some, it really was. They came to church on Wednesday nights because that was what you did. You went to church, somewhere. During my younger teenage years we got a new Pastor at our church whose name was Brother Teddy. He was by far the most wonderful preacher I have ever had the experience of getting to know. He was a man of God like no one else I had ever met and inspired our church in so many ways. I felt like God’s presence radiated out of him and filled everywhere that he was. I remember he used to take his shoes off to preach. He said that while standing in the Pulpit he was walking on Holy Ground, just as Moses did at the burning bush.
He brought with him a very young Youth Minister-David. He was in his young 20’s, single, but had a fire for Christ that was very obvious. See, I was raised ‘Southern’ Baptist, and that was just unheard of to have such a young guy serving in a Pastoral position. The-ahem-elderly of the church didn’t like him. Said he wasn’t good for the teenagers. Said we needed someone older…someone married. Someone they thought fit the part. No matter, David was chosen to serve as our Youth Minister on a temporary basis, just to see what he could do. [Insert Visual Image here:before David started, our youth group took up a half of a pew, maybe a full pew on Holidays. When David started, our numbers increased to filling up 6, 7 and 8 pews. On Sundays. At Night.]
David shared the message with us from a perspective we could relate to. He knew the temptations that were out there. He knew the sin we faced. He was blunt and to the point with what we needed to know, and equipped us with the tools to stage our counter attack against the garbage of our society. I was on a Spiritual High like none I had ever felt. My parent’s bought me a Teen Study Bible that I filled to capacity with study notes, highlighted scriptures, messages and prayers that God showed me and answered. I stayed away from alcohol, drugs, & promiscuity. I had a very close group of Christian Friends that I spent time with outside of school, and spent whatever time I wasn’t involved with school activities in the Church. I did mission work, led VBS classes, went to extra Bible Studies. I was on Fire. God was speaking to me several times during the day and I loved it.
During all of this I moved from Public School to Private School, but maintained a group of Christian Friends. The summer before my Senior Year of High School, I lost both of my grandmothers the exact same week. I was furious with God. I remember sitting in the woods behind my parents old house, crying and cussing God for doing that to me. Something that-even though I know God’s forgiven me for-I’m still ashamed of. I abandoned God because I thought he abandoned me. I went about my Senior Year. Started mingling with the “popular” kids some on the weekends. And eventually started drinking. I was also in a very unhealthy relationshipi to which I can direct a lot of my downfall. I was depressed. I was angry. I hated everything about myself and pretty much the life that I was living. I turned to a guy to make me feel better about myself. [To this day, I’m pretty sure that my self-consciousness and low esteem is what drove me to dating my ex.] It’s amazing how quickly the Devil can jump on you and tear you down isn’t it? I went from Spiritual High to Chronic Depression and Misery in a matter of months.
After High School came College…and Frat Parties. Lots and Lots of Frat Parties. I had 3 other roommates during my time in college. One [that ended up moving] was dating a guy who had a Cocaine Addiction, and the other 3 [3 because 1 moved into her old room 2nd semester] I love dearly, but they enjoyed the party scene. I was a party Girl. I never intended to have that Reputation, but I was. My first semester went by in a blur of classes, Sorority Obligations, Frat Parties, and Drinking. Lots and lots of alcohol. I did manage to go to class. The first semester. I had a 3.3 GPA. [Let me pause here to give you an idea of what all I had on my plate…I like to reference this because I don’t know how I managed it.
I was taking 17 hours worth of classes Monday-Friday (all of which started no later than 9:00 am). I had to work 8 hours a week on campus for a scholarship I had earned. I worked at least 4 days a week at a BBQ Joint, where my shifts weren’t over until 9:00, meaning I got home at 10:00. I was in a Sorority, so there were those obligations to meet…6 Hours of Study Hall per week, Swaps with the Fraternities, Meetings. And not to mention that first semester I was only a Pledge, so there were other things that I had to do before I could be initiated as well. When I got off of work at night, it was straight to the shower to redress and head out to the Bars or the Frat Houses until 2:00 or 3:00 am. Then home to cram in some study hours (assuming I wasn’t too drunk to hold my head up) and then up for class in the morning.] First semester, I did all of this.
During that first semester, I also broke up with my High School boyfriend. Again, a terrible relationship that had an even more terrible ending. An ending resulting in Police and an unwritten restraining order…on him. Not me. I’m not crazy. I ended it remember? That relationship resulted in a lot of dirty rumors being started about me and a lot of bad circumstances. Such as waking up to go to class to find out that someone…had let the air out of all of my tires. And I lived off campus. There was no way I was walking.
By the second semester, classes were out the window. Who cared if I went or not? I went to some. My history class was cake. I enjoyed it. But my Biology Professor sucked and I didn’t go to that class or my lab class. Resulting in a Big Fat “F” in Biology and “FA” for Failure to Attend Class in my Lab. I was taking Sociology as well, and made a “D” in that class because I didn’t try. It wasn’t hard and the professor was an Alumni of my Sorority, so she gave me the opportunity for extra credit and I just didn’t take it.
That is the darkest point in my life. The points that I am most ashamed of, but are such a powerful part of my Testimony of Faith. I was lost. So lost in my own shame and embarrassment for some of the things I had done. For some of the things Alcohol had led me to. I will state, for the record, that despite the abundance of Pot in the college world and more than one opportunity to use, never once did I stoop to using drugs. NEVER. A testimony I am very proud of. It was about halfway through my 2nd Semester that God woke me up. I remember it so vividly. It was a guy. [Ironically] His name was David-no not the youth minister, but that is what he wanted to be. He was a very devout Christian and I had a HUGE crush.
He was a friend of a sorority sister that I met in the Student Center one day in between classes. I remember thinking he was Gay at first because he dressed better than I did. For whatever reason, he sat across from me at lunch and shared his testimony. Who he was, what God was doing in his life, how God saved him and how he wanted to be a Youth Minister.
That woke me up. I went home that night, locked myself in my tiny room at my Apartment and cried. I remember getting on the floor and begging God for a second chance to make things right. I went to the bookstore the next day and bought a bunch of books on Rededicating your Life to Christ and how to Overcome Temptation in College. I wrote my sister (who is 5 years younger than me) a long note apologizing for the things that I had done because I knew that my life was a big influence on hers and that my party habits were not the things she needed to be seeing. I started back going to classes.
I started going to the Student Ministry Meetings on Monday and Thursdays. I started hanging out with my Christian Sorority Sisters. I ditched the beer and the bars. I was getting my life on track. Sounds easy right? Wrong. It was HARD. I loved my roommates, even with their party habits. I missed hanging out with them. I missed the “friends” we hung out with. I hated being on the outside of their jokes during the day when I was at home from classes and they were just waking up from their hangovers. But I stuck to it.
When Finals and all rolled around. I hit the books. I tried my hardest to pull up what I had destroyed in just a few weeks. I bombed. Majorly. I made a “B” in my History Class that I loved. But I failed everything else, bringing my overall GPA to an embarrassing 1.3. Yes. 1.3.
Needless to say, my University Scholarship was out the window. I had blown it. Big Time. My parents refused to give me a second chance to make it on my own. Even though, to this day, I know it would have been different. I know I would have made up for it. And I know that I would have a Degree right now. So, I was mad. I was furious actually. I cried. A lot. I missed my friends because I had NONE at home.
I transferred to the Junior College and started Pursuing a degree in Education. I found friends, of the wrong kind, and started drinking again. I failed another class. Albeit, the SAME Sociology Class I had made a “D” in the previous semester. I started dating the wrong guys, again. It was like my life had hit Replay, only this time, I wasn’t enjoying it so much. I was depressed and angry. I was broken and hurt. I was drinking just because it made me feel better. Well, it made me lose myself at least.
I was waitressing, making good money, and then God stepped in. He got me a job at the Hospital close to my hometown. I started working in the CCU. Then I met Josh. Sometime before I started working at the hospital, I had given up drinking once and for all. I don’t remember what made me do it, just that I did. I just knew that it wasn’t really fulfilling me, it wasn’t making me happy. It was just a habit. A bad habit.
So, Josh and I met in August of 2007. Started dating in November. Got engaged in February. Got married in April 2008. Found out I was pregnant in May. Moved to St. Pete in June. And had Noah in October. Sounds like a lovely, happy ending to a really crappy story, huh?
Wrong. At least, wrong religiously. My marriage was good, still had it’s bumps, and I was having a baby. But I wasn’t right with God. There was a point before Noah was born that I tried to mend my relationship with God. I started studying my Bible again. I spent hours during the day while Josh was working reading my Bible, studying and praying. But, there was a situation going on at the time that had me miserable and depressed. A situation that was like the black plaque in our house. I prayed about it. And prayed about it. And prayed about some more. I honestly spent hours upon hours some days praying for this situation to go away. Praying that God would fix it and make it better. Praying that God would heal what was breaking daily. It didn’t go away. At least not then.
I hated God again. This pain that I was feeling was worse than anything else I had ever battled in my life. It was a hurt that struck me to the deepest part of my body and was killing me and everything that I loved along with it. I was more upset and broken than I had ever been. And when it didn’t end and didn’t change, I gave up on God. I felt like I was doing my part. I was praying relentlessly and for the most part, I felt like I was praying faithfully, but still that black cloud hung.
Anyway. Noah was born and the past couple of months have led me up to this point I am at today. That black cloud has finally dissipated; hopefully never, EVER to make it’s appearance again. And God has started to heal what was broken and damaged. Amends have been made and mistakes have been forgiven. God has started to give me a love for my husband and my son that is like nothing I ever experienced before. He has opened my heart to receive his word and his will for my life. He is using tools I never imagined to teach me and make me into who he wants me to be. That’s why I read your blogs. Your blogs are part of the woodwork for the things God is doing in me. I get encouragement from each of you, whether it be in craftiness or through your conquering struggles. Each and every post that I read lifts me up in some way.
I shared all of this with you, to show any of you that think that your mistakes can’t be forgiven, that you’re wrong. If God can save me and make me new again, then I know he can make you new too. He has rekindled my spirit and changed my heart in ways that I never could have changed on my own. God is showing me that he has big, BIG plans for my life. Plans that exceed anything that I could have ever planned or studied for. And he has shown me that he can turn even the worst of circumstances into good ones.
If I hadn’t have failed so badly my first year in college, I never would have moved back home, never would have gotten that job at the hospital, and never would have met Josh. [Actually, I’m pretty sure that I would have at some point because he’s my soulmate, but we never would have had a baby when we did, which means that when we did, that baby wouldn’t be Noah, and I can’t imagine a life without him.] God is at work. In some way or another in your life. You just have to trust him, acknowledge him, and know that he is the author of our stories.
Sorry this was so long. If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Thank you for hearing what I had to say and what God has done for me. I pray a special blessing on your life. I hope you have been encouraged by my story. If you feel like sharing, I would love to hear what God has done in your life and how he led you to him.