In our Ladies Morning Out group we read a blog titled “A testimony without trials isn’t a testimony”. I say this with hesitation because that’s not exactly what the blog was about; it was more along the lines that just because you don’t have any trials in life, doesn’t mean you don’t have a testimony. If you haven’t faced “trials”, if you have been a faithful follower of Christ your entire life, you still have a testimony. There is something to be said for those whose faith is unwavering and for those who have been able to fight off the temptations Satan puts before us. This story, my story, is not like that. I have not been faithful. I have not been able to fight off temptations. I’m not proud of my past, but I am happy to share it in hopes that God will use my story for his will.
I grew up in a small Baptist church; surrounded by family and friends whose faith never seemed to waver. I went to church camp every summer; we sang songs around a campfire and cried and prayed and cried. I was baptized when I was in grade 6. I thought all was good. I thought I knew all about having a relationship with Christ. I was a “good Christian girl”. Right?
It wasn’t until after high school that my “faith” began to waver. It was then I realized that even though I believed everything I had been taught, I had no faith. I knew the bible stories and the bible verses. I knew the history. I had the “textbook” knowledge. But, I had never had a meaningful relationship with God. And now I didn’t care to. I started living a rather hedonistic lifestyle. I drank, experimented with drugs and lived a life of sexual immorality. I cared only for myself. I ignored and dismissed the concern my family and friends had for me. And then one day, my life changed. I was pregnant. We weren’t even dating; just friends who’d had a little too much to drink one night. I gave up smoking. But not drinking. I thought if I ignored things it would go away. I mean, if I kept living life the way I was living it, surely I would have a miscarriage! He wanted me to have an abortion. I told him (along with everyone else) I would. But I could never bring myself to do it. I moved out of my house and back in with my parents. And half way (yes, it was September and she was due in February) I finally filled my parents in on what happened. I was about to find out that this wasn’t the only change God was bringing about in my life. That November, a friend was killed in a bike accident. His death brought a lot of people to know the Lord; a large group of us started attending the same church. And it was then that I started to find my way back to Christ.
This only lasted for so long though. Sadly, I didn’t always make my relationship with God a priority. Let’s be honest. I rarely made my relationship with Him a priority. Church became less of a priority as friends stopped going. I was focusing on finishing my Bachelor of Education and raising my daughter, “M”. School became my focus and with that came new friends. And these new friends were single and without kids and eager to party. I was eager to have friends again. I was eager to be back on the “party scene”. And so, this is where life took me back. I met a guy, who I thought was great. He was the first man I loved. And he gave me hope, that even though I was a single mom, I was still attractive. He wasn’t a Christian. At the beginning of our relationship, I was firm that I was not going to let this go. But when I saw that he wasn’t interested in God and was uninterested in a relationship without sex, I gave it all up. And the path I had found back to Christ disappeared rather quickly. Eventually it ended, and I soon found myself dating the man I would eventually marry. I still wasn’t ready to go back to church or allow God to be a part of my life. Worldly treasures were more important to me now. I was desperate for a relationship. Desperate to be loved. I was looking in all the wrong places…
When I graduated from University, my first job was out of the city. Soon, I was busy teaching and being a single mom. That became my focus in life. That same year, my daughter’s biological father filed for full custody. It was then that the ongoing legal battles truly began. So, in attempt to mend the situation the following year, I moved to another small town in eastern Alberta, then again to different town closer to the city. I was never really able to find the opportunity to get involved with a church. At least, that’s how I saw it. But let’s be honest – I wasn’t interested. I focused on teaching, and my relationship with my (now) husband and my daughter. Naturally, my relationship with God fell by the wayside. My relationship with “M’s” biological father was strained and even though I had family and friends praying, none of those prayers seemed to get answered. I didn’t see the point in making God a priority in life. Something inside just wasn’t right. There was a void and I knew how to fill it, but I let my pride get in the way.
In March of 2012, we moved to Sherwood Park. I was dealing with Post-Partum Depression and was desperate to get out of the deep rut. I was barely able to tread water. I went to see a counsellor, but more importantly, I started reading the bible and praying. My daughter and I started looking for a church, and found one. We’ve been there since January 2013. I went to Breakforth in 2013 (an amazing weekend of music and opportunity for spiritual growth) and it was during that weekend that I felt like the Prodigal Daughter coming home. There was a change happening in my life and things were looking good. The real change was yet to come though.
I backed into a vehicle in the parking lot at Costco. It was going to cost us $1100 to fix their car. We were not in any position financially to be able to pay for it. I prayed and I cried and I prayed and then I got mad. I was feeling frustrated with God because there were no signs that he was going to answer my prayer. And I was beginning to wonder how he would make $1100 magically appear in our bank account. I mean really, was someone just going to drop $1100 in our mailbox? Yeah right. You only hear about that in moives. Or fairytales. About a week after the accident, I phoned the other party to discuss how to get the money to them. It was then that he informed me that his wife had been hit in the same spot just the other day. And the damage was being covered by insurance. We didn’t have to pay the $1100; we didn’t owe them anything! Instantly, I knew God had answered my prayers. And in that moment, He told me to just trust in him. It was the first time I felt like I had actually heard God speak to me. And then, I was embarrassed for not trusting him in the first place.
I always thought getting pregnant and being a single mom was the turning point in my life. And maybe it was in some regards. But it was that small accident that gave my faith in Christ the boost it needed. For the first time in my life, I saw how he answered my prayers. He didn’t answer it the way I thought he would. I never imagined he would make the money disappear. That moment was what changed my life and changed my relationship with Christ.
Everything I learned growing up, I am now putting into practice. I know now that I didn’t have much of a relationship with God as a kid. I thought I did, but I didn’t. What I have now is real. Do I regret the choices I made? I wouldn’t make the same choices if I could do my life over, but I don’t regret them. My grandma told me that God spoke to her one day and told her that he “spared (my) life”. God has a purpose for me. All those choices I made, everything I went through – it’s something I have learned from. More importantly, it’s something I can use to teach others. I believe that is a part of His purpose for my life.
My walk with Christ has been far from perfect. But I’m here today, doing my best to walk side by side with Him instead of running to catch up. I do my best to follow His lead and teach my kids not just what’s in the bible, but about having a real relationship with a very real God. I am learning to hear God’s voice and hopeful that his dreams for me will become my dreams in life. I have never been more aware of what God did for me in sending his Son to die; and never more grateful. I intend to live the rest of my life out as God has planned for me, whatever that may be. I know that it will not always be easy and that I will be faced with struggles along the way. But I also know that though sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning. And for that, I am thankful.
Thank you God for the courage you gave you to “Ms. S” to share her testimony with us. Allow it to find it’s way to the people who need it. Shine light into the darkness of those who are in similar situations and speak to their hearts to know that you offer unconditional love to those who choose you. Thank you that you stand at the door and knock, so that if anyone hears your voice and opens the door, you will come in. Thank you that you are a God who forgives of our past, and even though we may not have noticed that you were there with us waiting for us to see you. Thank you for sending your son for us to be washed clean by his blood.
Bless “Ms. S” for her boldness in her week ahead. Provide her with love and support and the knowing that you love her more deeply than she can comprehend on her own.
In Jesus name, Amen.