Of all people how did I become a Christian?
I was not born into a Christian family and went to church only a handful of times when I was a child. It was hardly anything I remember. In fact, I do not remember learning scripture at all as a child.
The most vivid memory of church was a time during a particular day at Sunday school when a Russian family came to our church. They had to leave Russia but they did not come to America with anything. I remember seeing this skinny russian girl about my age with nothing and looking scared and lonely. She did not speak English but there was a warmness in her eyes and I knew I wanted to help her. I specifically remembered telling my parents right after church that day all about this new girl I met and how I wanted to help her. I gave her one of my favorite dolls because I knew she did not have one. I knew the immediate warm feeling she would have when she held one of my favorite dolls in her hands. I will never forget that Russian girl who God placed in my life so that I could give to her. That was the best feeling in the world.
Shortly after meeting my new friend my parents got a divorce and my brother and I moved with my Dad about an hour north from where we were living. It felt like we moved to another country since we left everything we knew to be a comfort to us. Throughout my childhood and into high school I endured a lot of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. I was shamed so deep into depression that it became hard to think people could actually love me or even like me. I felt like my identity and worth as a person was stripped and downright stolen from me. It happened by people I thought could be trusted. No doubt I ended up with severe depression. This depression from trying to deal with all the abuse I endured seemed like a pit that only got deeper as the years went on. I did not know anything about healing because I really did not think it was possible for me. In fact the abuse I endured at the time seemed to be something I classified as a normal life because I did not know any different. My great Aunt pulled me aside one day and told me to imagine myself as a piece of leather. Every time you get hit physically or emotionally she said just imagine yourself as a piece of leather that grows stronger the more you are hit, beaten, dragged, pulled, thrown, or shamed into submission. So that is what I did. I figured what does not kill me would make me stronger. All the time I knew God was protecting me from worse things happening. I prayed all the time because I knew He was for me. I could not explain it to others but I knew God could hear my screams for help when no one seemed to care enough for me to love me or even hug me. I felt rejected and abandoned by my own family.
Being an adult proved to be more difficult than I imagined. I imagined that when I became an adult then I would have this freedom from the pain I had grown up believing to be normal. I did not want that kind of normal anymore and I wanted to be freed from the prison I was living in. So I graduated High School and decided that I wanted to help people to get free. I signed up at the local Community College and enrolled in as many law and criminal justice classes as I could get my hands on. At the same time I also became employed as a Legal Secretary at a criminal and family law firm. I was learning about the law that was designed to protect children but it had never protected me so I was aggressive at learning how I could change how the system was run. After a few disgruntled years I decided I wanted to travel so I did what any 20 year old would do. I left my home state of Michigan joined a traveling magazine sales company. Although the job provided me with a lot of traveling experiences that is where the benefits ended. At age 23 I moved back to Michigan and decided I would establish security in my life and get a job that I would spend at for the remainder of my working days. In 2004 I was working for another law firm and as I began to slow down in life everything came clear that I was a mess (emotionally). I was so much of a disaster that I was unable to keep it together at work. Here I was working in one of the largest litigation law firms in the state and I was crying about everything. Life felt as if I was coming to the end as I rapidly became engrossed in all the memories of abuse, disorder, rejection, and shame that I had experienced. It was as if I had to relive these experiences and all the emotions I have ever had came flooding back at the same time.
In the past I was able to control my emotions by holding it in and appearing that everything was okay. I was not okay any more and there was nothing to stop the flow of emotions of all previous experiences. Most of my life experiences especially as a child was not good and became one bad event after another. It is like getting ran over by a truck over and over without much recovery time. So the heaviness of all that I had been holding on to was too heavy to bare anymore.
That is when God provided a miracle. Another Secretary in the law firm that I was working at became the safe place that I could be who I was. She would meet me in our break room and talk to me while I cried and had many anxiety attacks. After many meetings of me crying and her encouraging me she invited me to a movie. A free movie at that! Her church had bought some tickets so they could watch this movie as a group. I thought who pays for someone else’s movie ticket? I could not get a hug from my parents but this woman wanted to pay for my movie ticket. I decided to go even though I was hesitant about the movie we would be watching. It was Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of The Christ. Needless to say I walked out of the movie theatre and drove home and I was literally speechless. I could not turn on the radio or television because I was overwhelmed with what I just saw. Jesus on the cross dying for my sin so that I would be forgiven.
That was the beginning of the road to true freedom for me. My friend, the Secretary, knew what she was doing. She was acting out of the love that Jesus Christ has given her. Not only was she was my friend she was also the Pastor’s wife of that church which soon became my church. A few short weeks after that I gave my whole heart to Jesus. The best part was how ready I felt to give my whole self to Him without any hesitation.
Why do I talk about love so much in my writing? It is because I know the power of love that in one simple act of kindness can change a person’s life. All I knew was rejection and conditional love from people but this act of love from a movie invitation made me see a glimpse of what unconditional love is.
This love was only the beginning of the extreme love that was starting to show up in my life. A few short weeks later I had attended church and I was a mess again. The enemy was giving all he could that day and he almost thought he would win….until he didn’t.
I thought that because I was saved I wasn’t supposed to deal with the same heartache. On this particular day I had hit rock bottom in the worst way possible. I felt helpless and hopeless. I thought God had made a mistake creating me because I had been rejected by everyone and everything. Close people in my life said to me that I would never amount to anything, I was ugly, no man would ever love me, and that I was stupid. All these things started to become what I saw as truth. I started to get angry with God for making such a huge mistake as me. I thought what a waste of time in creating me if this is who I am. I did not think I was worth another breath or even claiming the title child of God because that is not who I felt worthy to be. If my own Mother and Father think this low of me what am I to think of how God thinks of me. He is the creator of everything so how much less will He think of me?
Even though I questioned if I was worthy of being alive I never questioned that God could hear me. I knew He could! I felt so overwhelmed with my life experiences and a deep sense of rejection that I did not know how long I could live in this pain. As I contemplated what to do I came up with three options I would give myself.
1.) Try to keep living in my current hopeless state, which was not much of an option.
2.) Commit suicide, which was the more attractive solution.
3.) Ask God to save me from the deepest pit that I found myself trapped in.
I knew God was listening so I knew he could hear my cries for help. I selfishly gave him an ultimatum that if He did not want me to end my life that he needed to supernaturally direct me to a bible verse that proved I was worth anything to Him. In my despair I told God that I was going to randomly open my bible and I needed proof that I mattered to him or I was going to be proactive with option two.
I opened my bible and fanned through the pages. My trembling fingers landed on Psalm 139. These are the words that I read:
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
After reading these verses I became overcome with the most comforting love as if God was wrapping His arms around me and comforting me and I sat there and cried. I cried because before reading this scripture I did not think I mattered to anyone. After reading this I had never felt more loved. I felt like the lost son in Luke 15 who had just come back to his father’s home with the hope of love. My hope in love was restored and I experienced true unconditional love from my Father.
I continued reading to the end of the book of Psalms and felt my pain being pushed aside and courage taking its place. There in my own weakness I experienced redemption through all the rejection I had faced. What I learned that day was that love from God is different and exceeds all understanding than any love that comes from another human. God’s love cannot be compared accurately to another love because there is no other like Him. God’s love is real and it is for you! His love was not created so that the group “Christian” could claim it. It is for me to embrace and claim as my own, as His child. As a child of the Kingdom I am called to embrace all the things God has given me and the first thing He wants me to realize is how much He loves me! And because He loves me I love him and live for Him!