Hi guys, I mentioned awhile ago that I was writing up my testimony and here it is! Sorry it's a bit of a long read but hey, I like bragging on my great God! If you guys have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them.
I was sick that day. Hot and heavy sick, with my body is so tired it couldn't move and nothing tasted good. I had glassy eyes, but an awake and roving mind amidst all the quiet in bed and off and on sleep. I was six years old and I remember that day, lying on our plastic-y green leather couch, with my full array of bedding arranged about me. Alone in the living room, I was looking out our giant picture window at the wind stirring the trees outside. My tired mind kept trying to make sense of the patterns that the branches made and I wondered if Jesus would come back from that angle and if I would see Him coming through the branches, a bunch of light breaking the flat gray of the sky. I remember thinking about Jesus coming back with a sick feeling in my stomach - like I should be thinking of it happily because Mommy and Daddy did and the pastor at church would say it joyfully - but I didn't know if He'd be happy to see me, if my heart belonged to Him.
Whether it was later that night or even later than that, I don't recall, but it was dusk then because the lights were on inside, the livingroom a warm-yellow haven removed from the darkened streets, but I felt anything but safe. I don't know how long I sat alone, terrified, but I remember starting to crying hysterically when my mother came in and asked me how I was. She must have seen how scared I was. "I don't want to go to hell, Mommy. I don't want to be an outcast." She hugged me and asked me if I want to pray. I don't remember her emotions in that situation but I remember mine - desperate. Please Jesus, save me from hell and from going away from You and from light and from everyone and everything good. Please, let me be one of Your little ones and be my Savior. God tells us to come to Him as little children, with faith and says anyone who believes on Him, He will accept*. As a timid six-year-old, I threw myself on God with all my desperation. I knew that He was the only one who could really save me. And He did.
I was a sensitive middle child with a people-pleasing complex and thus stayed out of trouble in a lot of ways. Jak, my sister just fourteen months older than me, was much more outspokenly rebellious and even if I agreed with her rebellion, I kept my rebellion inside and tried to be subtle about getting away with things. I honestly don't remember much about my childhood, but I remember loving Pastor Butler's sermons and singing enthusiastically with the hymns. I remember wrestling with whether or not I was really saved, partly because of sins I couldn't seem to conquer. One late Sunday afternoon, our youthful study group sat with Pastor Butler on his sunlit trampoline going through the book How Can I Be Sure I'm A Christian by Donald Whitney. I tried to reassure myself because of the changes I'd seen in myself - the 'good works' that accompany faith - but the book title itself touched my deepest fear and just paralyzed me. How did I know whether God had chosen me?
When I was thirteen, after a move, a lot of uprooting and a new church with new faces, I definitely feeling like the self-conscious and awkward teenager I was becoming. I couldn't find a single place where I belonged and I was feeling in new ways the burden and weight of the sins I carried. By my mother's example and God's grace and after a lot of failure, I was finally succeeding at having a regular devotional time in the morning. I have a vivid memory of sitting in our storage room on an ugly red chair just crying. I'd gotten a glimpse of what Jesus had done for me and I felt unspeakably unworthy. They were a broken sort of joyful tears. Why me, God? I never did anything. Why me? It was a beautiful moment. It all became real and went from 'God saved me from hell' to 'God saved me from myself and claimed me as his own*'. I finally saw the connection between my own deep need and unworthiness and God's salvation plan.
At about sixteen, I decided I need a best friend. I took a little while picking her out, but Emily was amazing. Still is, actually, but there was one problem. She had another really good friend, who was practically a best friend and took up most of her time. My supposed-to-be best friend was unaware of the struggles and tears I had as I felt rejected and unwanted by the merry pair. This might sound odd, but God planned that experience for me so I would reach a pivotal place in my relationship with Him. For weeks and months, I agonized, crying to God, wondering why He hadn't given me that one special friend who could always be there for me, support me, love me and know me. Around February, the stress, anxiety and bitterness I was carrying, coupled with lack of sunshine and exercise, caused me to descend into a pretty severe depression. The emotional deadness and spiritual darkness I went through then still sobers me. I was incredibly wrapped up in myself, in self-pity and entitlement, but God still had a hold on me. I would sit in my dark room, crying yet feeling nothing. Finally, I said to God, "Okay, God, even if it's only ever You, I trust You." That was the turning point. I'd finally understood the lesson God was teaching me - to trust Him no matter what*.
God has brought me through many more things, seemingly small things, but ones that have a big significance in my spiritual life. One of the things that I've prayed for sporadically, but sincerely, is a heart tender to know God and do His will and I believe He's granted that. I have deeply embedded faults, huge struggles and major things to work through still, but as Beth Moore says,
"If you have any heart for God, His will will find you." I rest in that.