For some reason I’ve been drawn to watching testimonies on YouTube lately. So, I guess you could say I’ve been inspired to share mine. I’m a bit too much of an introvert to send a video to YouTube… but maybe someday I’ll surprise you and become a one hit wonder! Ha ha. Just kidding.
It’s always so hard to start this kind of story. A story within a story, that becomes THE story. Right?
I grew up sleeping in on the weekends. Most weekends. We had neighbors in New Baltimore who had daughters the same age as my sister and I. They invited us to church a few times, probably more. I vaguely remember visiting a place where everyone seemed to walk lighter, and wore permanent smiles. They spoke of Jesus. I did not know who that was.
I also heard about Jesus from my great-grandmother, through a pin that she gave me. It was a small, rectangular shaped pin, white plastic with black lettering on it that said, “JESUS LOVES YOU.”
My five-year-old self asked my adoring great-grandma Hayes… “who is Jesus? and why does he love ME?”
Unfortunately, I don’t remember her answer. Fortunately, I remember how she showed me who Jesus is during her lifetime. She loved me, adored me, and delighted in me. Her face would light up when she saw me, in a way that I never knew was humanly possible. Probably because it wasn’t humanly possible.
I’m not sure how much I want to share regarding my life without Jesus. That’s the tough part. How much of my mess is worth sharing, you know?
I was searching for something, I just didn’t know what.
I knew I needed this something, I just didn’t know where I might find it?
I looked for it at school, in the acceptance of friends. I looked for it at both of my homes, from my parents, in unconditional love. They provided it to the limit that all humans have.
I looked for it in men, in the form of adoration, captivation, comfort, and companionship. They too, fell short, due to their limits.
I found it, when I was 22. Glimpses of it, in new friends I met at church. They were able to accept me for who I am. They seemed to love me even though they just met me. They didn’t care about where I’d been, or what I’d done.
It was then that I decided to believe God. On my terms.
I demanded, foolishly, that this new relationship would be one-sided. If I do what I think is necessary, he would meet me there. If I did all the right things, he would protect me and not let anything bad happen. If I marry this guy, because I want to, God was supposed to make sure it all worked out. Nothing bad was supposed to happen to me, ok?
My faith was shallow. My terms were ridiculous.
My lesson: God loves me too much to work on my terms.
The person I married brought a suitcase full of skeletons from his closet. As did I.
Our skeletons danced, and fought, and destroyed, and won.
We divorced. I ran from the God I knew. I made horrible choices for 10 years. My choices were a shovel that dug a hole that was deeper than I am tall. The hole I was standing in started to give way.
Instead of grabbing at the next relationship, hoping it would be the rope that would pull me out, I grabbed the rope that was in that hole the whole time. As soon as I placed my hands on it, I was out of the hole. It felt like a true miracle. No struggle. No falling back in. The hole was under my feet, filled back in. Solid.
I decided to open my heart to terms that were much less ridiculous. For example, I was willing to obey. I’ve learned that the rules are provided for our protection. I knew I needed that protection!
My heart has been transformed. Healing has taken place. Some days it feels like the healing waters are raging, and some days they’re calm. The waters seem to match my emotional state, day to day.
Most days, I feel peace. Most days, I feel whole. Most days, I realize that God is all I ever need.
My goal in life is to love others. To see people the way that my great-grandma Hayes saw me – with delight in her eyes. I know that I cannot do this on my own. I learn this daily.
It is a process. I am a work in progress.
So, in a nutshell (the kind that the squirrels like to break open on my patio table and leave their remnants as some sort of gift to me), my “testimony” is on-going.
I’ve been broken, as we all are, and put back together. Broken, and mended. Broken, and healed. You get the picture. I hope.
The reason I am sharing this, is to give you hope.
No matter how much of a mess you’ve left on your patio table, God can put it back together. Only, He will make it look brand new. He will make you whole.
I hope that you take this to heart. It is from my heart.