I was raised in a Christian home by two Christan parents. For a long time I struggled with not having a "BIG" conversion story. As I have grown older I realise that every conversion - or when a person comes to accept Jesus as their savor is BIG to God.
Romans 3:22-24 (NIV)
22 This righteousness is given through faith in[a] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
I do not know the exact date when I accepted Jesus as my savior. I think this is mostly due to the denominations we were when I was younger. I was Catholic for 7 years, with Catholicism there is no "date" of salvation, you just are Catholic. Then we were Methodist for several years, then Presbyterian from about middle school on. When I went to college is when I became Baptist and the "date" became an issue. What I do know is that I did accept Jesus as my savior - though I don't know when it happened exactly, I know it happened and He is MY SAVIOR.
My first "storm" came when I was in the 7th grade. I was new to school and I was a late bloomer. I still was sporting the matching spandex out fits. Not really condusive to being super popular. I was trying to be friends with the "popular" girls. The ring leader of the group told me I could no longer eat lunch with them. I was crushed. I turned to God during this time. He began teaching me about about judging others. I had been judging people based on looks - not their hearts. The same way I had been judged, not on my heart. I began to make friends based on their hearts - not their outward appearance. These were some of the best friends I ever had
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Did I consider this time in my life pure joy? Absolutely not. It sucked. I ate in a teachers room every day of seventh grade, it was terribly difficult. Did I grow from it and become a better person? Yes, and even now knowing how painful it was I would do it again, because I am better for it.
During this time God also taught me about forgiveness. Why he asks us to forgive. I forgave all the girls involved and there were quite a few of them. I used to know all their names, but I don't anymore. Forgiveness releases you from bondage. It's the giving of your worry to God and saying "I forgive them" and handing over what you think the punishment should be to God. I am not a fair and honest judge. But God is
Throughout high school I studied Gods work and strived for perfection, never achieving it. Feeling judged and never measuring up. I picked my college based on the fact it was a party school. One of the top ten at the time. As my dad dropped me off at college a car cut us off and on the back it said "SFA" SEX FUN ALCHOL. Nice warm fuzzy feeling for dad im sure. Shortly after I arrived somehow I ended up at a church and was convected and re-committed my self to GOD. Still not understanding Christianity in full I continued my quest for perfection. I had no idea why God would have me at a party school and not be partying. He knew. My future husband was there. We met in Aug of 1999, started dating in Feb of 2000 and married in December of 2000. With my ideas of a fairy tale life and a love described in
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
The only problem was I did not know how to love like this.
In 2003 I was the victim of an assault. It completely turned my world upside down. Life was not fair. How could people have betrayed me? I quit my job, got another horrible job - that I had thought was the answer to my prayer - I suppose it was a temporary answer. My emotions were completely out of control. I had panic attacks when I saw a certain make model and color of car that must have been extremely popular because it was everywhere. I was seriously angry with about 20 people and an entire police department. I would sit on my bed and scream and cry out to God. How did he let this happen? Why did he let this happen? God again began to work on me to let go, to forgive. He had taught me to do this before on a much smaller scale, for a much less serious offence.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
This time I learned more. I learned what forgiveness really was and what he was asking me to do. Because they did not deserve forgiveness. I wanted justice. I wanted them to feel the pain I felt. I wanted them to hurt the way I was hurting. Forgiving frees you from that. Forgiveness is not okaying the offence. Its unnatural and goes against what I wanted to see happen. But when I forgave I realised I was the actual prisioner. I freed myself. I said "they did not deserve it" - my forgiveness. The truth is - they did not. I don't deserve Gods forgiveness.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
I forgave because God forgave me.
Once I had worked threw this - which took about two years. I was very happy. I had a great job. I am still admazed as to what a wonderful husband God gave me and that he loves me through my instability and my inperfections. About that time we decided to have a baby. I became pregnate and we were so excited. We thought of special ways to tell our family. The way I ended up telling my mom was calling her crying on the way home from a doctors appoitment telling her I was having a miscarriage. I have no answer for why things like this happen. I belive this is one of my babies who is already in Heaven waiting for me.
A few months later I became pregnate with Noah. My appendix ruptured at 32 weeks and he was born early. He was in the NICU for 18 days. I would not visit him with out Wes. I was very upset that he came early. It ruined my plans for the "perfect birth" that was in my mind as a first time mother. His lungs needed to devolpe more and they did and he came home to us on oxygen and an apena monitor. Wes still remembers loading him in the car the first time. He said it felt like defusing a bomb. With a nurse watching he had to buckle him in - on oxygen - then load all his equipment. I road in the back, just incase something went wrong. My struggle for control was at an all time high. Doctors had been trying to medicate me since my assault. I did not belive I needed medication. I thought it was a sign of weakness and I was not weak. Still stuggling with depression I became pregnate when Noah was 6 months old. Through this time my husbands job had turned into one with lots of travel. He was easily gone 6 months of the year - broken into two week periods. After my second child was born I got on medication. It helped tremendusly. However I was still expecting perfection from myself and other Christians and was constently being let down.
I took a sales job that appealed to my ego and I did very well at it. I was able to listen to womens painful stories and show them love and compassion. During this time God showed me a very ugly side of Christians. I was judged severly for my sales job. They did not bother to ask what I was doing or why, or that I had received councle from two pastors at my church before accepting the job. It broke my heart, and I started drinking very heavly. What people were suppost to be doing and what they were doing was not lining up. Drinking alchol made that go away. Temporly. One night I drank 2 bottles of wine and 1/2 a bottle of tequilla. I relized I had to stop, I had to forgive myself for not being perfect. I went to a wise christian woman who ACTUALLY lives her faith and I told her about my drinking. She did not judge me, she loved me. She knew the drinking was a byproduct of my pain and that I had judged myself enough. She encouraged me to seek out why I was drinking. What was the pain. Through this God showed me:
- look to him, he is perfect, his followers are not. Not even me.
- Forgive everyone - even myself
- love my self as described in 1 Corinthians
- put my record book away. I am a human.
When I would beat myself up about what I fed my kids God reminded me that he fed his kids manna for 40 years and they were fine. Once he took away my coping mechnasin I was able to learn to cope in a healthy way. To be a better wife, mom and friend.
Christianity is not a stagnet pond where mosquetos grow. Its a living plant that is nurtured and pruned. The learning and growing hurts. As the undsirable parts are removed. When it is over what God has brought from my pain is much more beautiful. Is it hard to count it all joy? Yes, but I can now praise God in a storm and cling to him because I know he will get me threw it. I finally accepted 1 corinthians 13:12 as the answer to my unknown questions. And for me, its a good enough answer.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.