I met Him in the tiniest room there was in this small white church that I had never attended before until that weekend. As I closed my eyes to pray with faith for the first time, I didn’t feel like I was in that small room anymore. I was consumed and surrounded by God’s presence, amazing grace, forgiveness and unconditional love. I felt like I was talking to Him face to face; that I was before His throne in heaven. I felt protected and safe. I had never felt that unexplainable feeling before at that moment until then. I knew He was listening and I could feel the party that was going on in heaven as I accepted and made Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life! This happened for me at a purity weekend in late May of 2008. I walked out of those church doors that weekend with weights of burdens, worry, fear, and doubt lifted and I was changed from the inside out! But before this weekend ever happened life wasn’t so easy and I was in the search for healing, love, meaning — in search of something bigger. I was in search of God.
I never really grew up in a Christian home, even though my family always believed that there was a God but didn’t live for Him. I would jump back and forth, living with my mom and dad at times, and then my aunt and uncle up until I was nine. As I jumped from home to home, I began being sexually abused by more than one person and physically abused by my dad. At nine I went to live with my aunt and uncle permanently. My aunt taught me how to pray and I am so thankful for all my aunt and uncle have done and continue to do. But somehow I felt like it wasn’t enough and I got stubborn and rebellious at the age of thirteen and went back to live with my mom (by this time my mom and dad were split up and about to get divorced). I then began to question if there really was a God.
It wasn’t easy going back and living with my mom. She drank a lot and hardly was home. When I lived with her I really couldn’t call the many places we lived home. We lived in motel and hotel rooms and various other places that we kept getting kicked out of, and finally she has kept and is living in a trailer that they can call home now. But at the time I had to take care of my younger sister and brother and learned to do the basic stuff like cooking, cleaning, etc., on my own. I grew up poor. I had no running water growing up. My family and I would carry jugs of water back from the run off. We had no heat except the heat from the woodstove we owned. But this was the poorest I have ever been. Sometimes we hardly had any food and I saw my younger sister and brother beg for food. Furthermore, at this time in my life, I met my best friend. She had great faith in Jesus. You could tell she loved Him and her family and she lived for Him. She wouldn’t push her faith on me, but she would invite me to go to church – to church activities – and was excited and ready to answer the many questions I would ask about Christianity. My best friend and the horrifying experiences from my past drew me closer to Jesus and helped me to make Him my hero and king.
At purity weekend the messages about sexual purity, how special and unique my body is, and how much I am worth really brought out what was hiding deep inside of me for many years. I finally understood why with the sexual abuse, why I was created the way I was, and learned that my virginity that I had been struggling to save, and could have been forced to give away was not only special to me but to Jesus and my future husband. I didn’t feel like I was worth much due to the abuse I had experienced, and the way I had to live, but I learned that I was worth more than I felt because of Jesus’ sacrifice. A week before purity weekend I had had phone sex with a guy in my grade and as I sat there in that church listening to the women speaker, I felt a very deep guilt, the worst guilt I have ever felt before. I knew what I needed to do, so I ran to one of the girl leaders and confessed what I did and how I felt, I couldn’t hold back the tears… I was convicted as the Holy Spirit worked inside of me for the first time. She took me to a small room and helped me to confess what I did to Jesus, helped me to ask for His forgiveness and accept that He died for me, then defeated death itself and then we asked Him to help me live for Him and I thanked Jesus.
For about a month after I had said that prayer and made Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and excitement. Nothing could take my new faith away and I liked the knowledge and feeling of having a savior. I was filled to the top with everything I needed. I felt completed. Despite all these great feelings, that didn’t change the home life I went back to, my old habits, my selfish ways, or how my family decided to live.
Jesus has taken me in, adopted me and cleaned me up, but is still always doing the work He does of cleaning me up, teaching me, putting me through trials, struggles and things to make me cling to Him and grow into someone like who Jesus was and is. It wasn’t easy and still isn’t easy giving up everything for Jesus and learning to obey Him and not ignore Him in every area of life. In the beginning of my faith I remember it being very hard for me to continue to build and grow this relationship with somebody I couldn’t see or hear with my physical eyes and ears. I learned then to have faith in the smallest of things and to trust God even when I doubted or wasn’t thinking clearly. I also was struggling to understand the grace and forgiveness of Jesus and dealing with a habitual sin. Then an amazing thing happened as I prayed about this struggle and sin… God gave me this vision – like a daydream sort of – and it helped me to understand what really happened at the cross.
This is what happened in my daydream: I find myself in the crowd watching Jesus carry His cross to the Crucifixion ground (Skull Hill). He is all bloody and pain is written on His face. He can hardly stand up. He looks at me and I want to go tell him, “I’m sorry,” but my feet won’t move. My mind then takes me to the foot of the cross. I’m there alone and I’m praying. I hear a deep, soothing, calm voice. I look up and am staring into Jesus’ fiery orange eyes. He says to me, “It’s OK, I’m here.” Then there is complete silence and I’m showered in protection. I fall into His mighty arms and am loved. That’s not the only things that God has showed me and taught me though.
For the past two years I have battled depression, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, and cutting. I have become closer to Jesus, learned to trust Him with the little faith I did have, that grew and grew during these times of depression. He has set me free from the suicidal thoughts, wanting to commit suicide/need to give up completely and cutting. I thank Him every day for letting me survive those times that I was so close to death. I learned to turn to Him and use the weapons He has given me to fight many temptations like cutting. Likewise, throughout these three years that I have been a Christian, I have learned so much about who I was and am growing into being. I continue to learn more about Jesus and what He has done for me everyday too. I see progress most of the time in my attitude, behavior, and thoughts. I see change sometimes in myself because of the work of the Holy Spirit, and then other times I get stuck and need to figure out what is holding me back from moving forward. I am very thankful for the family of God that I do have and the support, guidance, advice and help they have shown me. I am learning, and growing into living everyday for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I hope and pray that my lifestyle and daily habits honor glorify and make our God smile!
Jesus Did It!!!