As I was praying this morning; for some special situations in my life and the lives of family members dear to me, I was flooded with memories of my childhood. Memories of my youth. Good and bad; crazy and sane. And I heard Him clearly tell me “I was prepared.”
I don’t like to think too hard about where I was before Him. But truth be told, there is power in our testimonies and perhaps I have grown lax in sharing with others how amazing His move in me really was. If you knew me then, and saw me now, you just would not know what to say. Mind boggling. And I do not say that full of pride, but for God’s glory because what I was…it was worse than filthy rags; there are no words to express who I was and how awful I was.
But someone needs to know. Someone needs to hear how HE changed me. And not in a little way but in a BIG way. A serious move of God. And yet I have so many excuses for not doing that which we are commanded to do…I think others know; I don’t have time; it’s too personal. Yep – these are some of my very lame excuses for not sharing; for not putting the story of my faith walk out there. I admit too, there is shame, there is a fear of putting who I was out there, even to those who “know” me now. Let’s be real, we all judge. It changes who we know, as we learn more. There was a very dark side to me, this life, before I was born again, it was a dark and dangerous one.
What is the hope in me? Where is it and why is it? From the time I was little, I remember my mother telling me that I was different. Not like the other kids; that I would always be set apart and not fit in. It wasn’t like she said it as a way to bring me down or anything. It was just something she stated as a fact. I would never fit in. Anywhere. I believe, I was being prepared for my place i His kingdom. For we are to be set apart, we are a peculiar people. And that is just what I was. All my life. Still am 🙂
My mother was wise, still is an amazing woman even though there is such division in our relationship to this day. We lived a very simple life. We studied and read and listened to music; we frequented the theatre. We learned so much, together, Raising caterpillars into butterflies I learned all about life, how beautiful and how fragile it all is. I learned a strong sense of responsibility, of independence and of what it really means to care for those in need. Makes me think of “six degrees of separation”; I learned early how its all connected whether we know it or not. There was a simple way about all things that we did. We didn’t have a television set; nor did we want one. We walked everywhere; would take the bus if we had to. But we stopped and we watched. We observed and learned from the changes in random moments. Gained insight from watching and speaking to people of all kinds; listening and learning. We saw all the great things that are His creation. For joy unspeakable. For a witness of Him.
I don’t know how I got so off track. But at some point it happened. The challenges in my life, with my mom and dad being divorced, my lack of relationships with family and friends; I kind of went into a downward spiral. What I always had was not what I wanted for my life; it just wasn’t enough. So I moved around internationally and nationally; I tried everything and anything to fill that void. And as it all failed I got lost; I got bitter and angry. Rather than remembering the blessings of the simple life, I focused on those things hardships; on those things I wished were something else. The grass is always greener….sigh. My father was not around much; my mother to this day is unpredictable and somewhat volatile. She is also converted into the Muslim faith so while we have never been close to begin with; there are even greater trials in our relationship (or lack of) today. Certainly life has been interesting.
There were many high standards and great expectations of me growing up too. It was hard in our home; my mom was a single mom doing the best she could. Working with what little she knew having come from her own version of dyfuncational function. While I technically attended the public schools, I consider my education to have been in the home more than out in the world. I was a loner, a recluse, a book worm, a nerd …. All those words that kept me from really fitting in, being a friend or having one. To this day that has not changed much. Never have I been able to shed my socially awkward nature; hanging out and having fun is tough. I never know what to say, what to do ~ Honestly I still struggle to curb a tongue too which acts quickly (mind thinks, mouth opens…enough said!) But I have Jesus; the best friend one can have. The only one anyone really needs. And certainly the Lord has provided people in my life who are strong in faith; who are wonderful and inspiring examples for me, of faith in action. I am blessed. Even though I still rarely come out of hiding. haha
Backing up again … As I got older I found drugs, I found booze. I could drink anyone under the table and make a sailor blush with my colorful vocabulary. I picked fights with anyone I could; just because I could. I liked to play mind games; I got a psychology degree in college to understand how the mind works and I used it to my advantage. Often. I was also a social worker by day so somehow of all the evil and wicked things I did (and the darker things I played with) I figured I was balancing it all out by helping those in need. Of course at the same time I had to maintain my “I don’t care…ice queen reputation” so….Quite a tightrope walk in my life indeed. Then I found an interesting group of fellow misfits hanging out at the local Denny’s at all hours…We placed Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons (I was heavily into the occult by this time by the way). We would sit for hours; I would read tarot, channel spirits and provide potions and spells to those in need of “blessings and curses”. We would attend The Rocky Horror Picture Show with bottles of crown royale and coke in tow…Looking back … it was a different life. How I got there I do not know. It was dark ; there were a couple attempts at “suicide”. I referred to this events as my attempts to get to the other side. An experiment I only repeated once again in my life before I determined I just could not get there. But there was always that desperation, that knowing, that there was something more I Just could not reach. And I often had vivid dreams (and wrote much too) of experiences being drowned, buried alive….
I should be dead. I never thought I would live to see 30. And I was okay with that back then because I was lonely and sad, and miserable, alone and empty and with all my talents for writing and divining and friends that would wreck havoc in the lives of others with me…We caused so much pain and trouble to ourselves and others 😦 And even then, I knew there was more. I just wasn’t good enough to have it. No matter where I looked or what I tried, it just wasn’t the one. Besides drinking and smoking random things, I frequented the various faiths I explored them all, often. I searched and searched. I tried Buddhism, the various Christian denominations (Catholicism, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist) Jewish, Taoism, I sought out ancient paths like Druidism, Zarathustraism (an ancient Iranian religion/philosophy) and some I could not even pronounce. I tried it all; studied and learned and struggled and fought. And decided that there was a God. And He hated me. He mocked me and ridiculed me. It just wasn’t for me to have that better life. It was only years later that someone came my way who, in such a show of God’s mercy and grace, was patient enough and constant enough, for me to see that this was the real thing. To this day it baffles me that this man of God kept coming back; the prayers of a righteous man. I was not nice, not once. I mocked the faith, they came to teach us, not once being wiling to hear anything but finding pleasure in making jokes and being as degrading as I could be. I did not take it seriously. My husband did and that only added fuel to my fire. But even after my husband was born again; after I found and forced us to move to another church, again and again this man came back to teach me. Slowly I was able to swallow my pride and acknowledge that he had something I wanted, that I did not know all there was to know. And that God was never against me but rather was calling out to me all this time. Through all my storms, He was there. I just had to be humble, and desperate enough, to hear from the man He sent. I mean I expected something, a pope of this thing (yet when I had a study, with our now Pastor even, it was too much, I could not bear to stay – it hit even then and when I walked away it was out of fear and faith – knowing what more there was too that I was not ready for). Who did it? Our handyman (now a dear friend of our family). I joke today about it but there was so much that the Lord had to break away; take away, before I could hear. I was such a mess.
I wonder why it took so long; I wonder why there was so much that I had to go through. Then I remember, He was waiting on me. He is always on time; He is always present. We are the ones who need to be ready to, as the disciples did, hear His call and just go. Not hesitating or counting the cost; no worries about what we leave behind. They were told “follow me” and they went. No looking back. Its the only way. There is a purpose and a plan for all things; there is nothing He does not know about what we will do and say. How we will react to one thing or another. The choices we make, we are given free will (how I wish sometimes we weren’t LOL)
So often we look at things like this and think how awful it is for someone to go through trials and tribulations (don’t get me wrong I feel for those who are down and out; stuck in the storm) but we forget how some things ( some people) need to be “beaten” down (not literally); jars need to be emptied out so something new can fill them. The clay cannot be baked and beautiful until it first has been molded and placed in the fire. We are refined; we are prepared, for His way and His life, by making it through the storms. Even when we do not know Him, looking back, we can see Him everywhere. In those moments of darkness; in those times when all I wanted was to rest in peace; in those times I cursed and hexed and drank too much and yet made it home safe. I was alive. Every day I had breathe and body. Praise God.
And here I am today. Such a different place. Such a new beginning really. Today I were dresses; long and flowing, feminine. I am still taming my tongue but goodness what a difference. The Lord delivered me overnight it seems, from smoking and drinking. Bless the Lord. He showed Himself strong in my life, in every way. I thank God for the revelations which are His word, for the ability and the desire to be born again of the water and of the spirit. For the ability to be been born again; to worship Him freely whenever and wherever I please. I am baptised in Jesus name and filled with His Spirit. I have spoken in tongues (I do it daily; such a beautiful language and peace in this!) I know the name that is above all other names; I know the name that can heal, deliver, cast out demons and bring new life to those who dead in body and/or spirit. There is so much more I could say about who I am; about where He brought me and how we got there (I say we because it would not have been without Him guiding my steps). I know without a doubt this was a journey that He took every step of the way, with me. Even when I did not hear. Praise God for His love and His mercy.
When I think about it I am so unworthy and so undeserving. Of all those He could choose, He chose me to be one of His own. I am not saying this to belittle myself but because I just know that there is so much more. There are so many who are so eager to hear and be freed of their bonds. They do not think they can; they do not know that He loves them with an everlasting love. He does not want them to perish. He has blessings in abundance for their, waiting, but they must move forward. They must cry out to Him, sincerely, with all that is in them. He walked with me for 30-some years – all the while I refused to hear. I refused to listen; I refused to believe that I could be someone that He would love. I only wanted to get away because there is a void, in all of us, and it can only be filled with our Creator. Who out there needs to get away? Who out there does not know the great peace and comfort and joy that comes from Him? Nothing is greater my friend. I want to assure you that while none of us are good enough (the most righteous is like filthy rags) He can make us all good enough. We do not get good, but we can get God, and the getting good? He will make that so. He will grow fruits so amazing and abundant and flavorful if you trust Him; if you let Him do such a great work in you.
Seek Him, while Her can yet be found. Hear His call and answer.
And then testify, magnify Him, tell all the world, how great is your God!