It dawned on me the other day that even though I may spend lots of time talking to my friends or with my friends, a lot of times, we only share bits and pieces of our own story. We tend to talk about the day to day things and the things that are going on right now rather than share our journey. Understandably so, but we still don't share. So I thought I would share my testimony.
I walked the aisle at Parkway Baptist Church in Jackson, MS at the age of six. It wasn't until I was twelve years old in July 1988 that I actually nailed down my salvation. I didn't get baptized then and wouldn't get my baptism in order for many years. I had a wonderful childhood and upbringing. I had parents that loved each other deeply and loved me as well. While we weren't rich by worldly standards, I never wanted for anything and somehow my parents always had the money for me to do mostly anything I wanted to do. I watched both of my parents have daily quiet times and I was brought up extremely involved in the church in a very positive way. However, I wouldn't say I was growing spiritually all of those years. I was a Christian, but I was definitely not as close to God as I needed to be. I had a picture perfect life. I never understood what it meant to cling to God because that's the only thing to cling to. I had other things to put my faith in - my mom, my dad, all of my needs and most of my wants always being met.
I graduated from high school and went on to a private baptist college. This was a great experience for me. I loved every minute of it. Again, my life was pretty much picture perfect. Looking back, I'm pretty sure that I put my faith in the fact that my life was so good and easy.
At Christmas 1994, midway of my sophomore year, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. Surgery was done, he recovered, life went back to normal. God healed people of cancer all the time, right? A year and two months later on a Tuesday,(February 1996)I was at school which was an hour away from my parents house. My Wednesday morning class got cancelled so I decided to make a trip home to see my dad. I told Adam (my boyfriend of 5 months) that I was going to go home. He had an intramural basketball game that night so he wasn't going with me. I assured him I would be home the next day so we could celebrate Valentine's Day. As I loaded my car to leave, here came Adam with his stuff. He decided to go with me instead of playing basketball. The rest of that night is somewhat of a blur, but it ended around 11:00 that night as my Dad went home to be with the Lord. I remember telling him bye and that I loved him, but not much else. We had the visitation, the funeral and then, once again, life returned to the new normal. I went back to school, back to life as it was. I can also say, looking back, that this was the first little chip in my joy.
In May 1997, on Memorial Day, Adam and I spent the day together. I don't remember what we did, but I remember coming back to my dorm room and it was full of people. My friend, Charity, who was married was sitting there, which was very odd. They told me that my dear friend Melanie had been in a terrible car accident and they didn't know if she was going to make it. We needed to pack and head to Nashville where she was. While I was in my room packing, my phone rang and it was another friend of mine who was in Nashville calling to tell me she was gone. This funeral was harder on me in a lot of ways because there was no time to say goodbye. It was even a closed casket, so there was no closure. I so did not understand. She was so sweet, so full of life! Another chip in my joy.
In November 1997, Adam and I got married. It was such a fun day. There were a few bittersweet moments because my Dad and Melanie weren't there, but it was fun. My Dad's best friend, Ernie, gave me away and he cried all the way down the aisle. It was great day...just what I wanted.
In August 1998, Adam and I moved to Jackson, MS for law school. In September, we found out I was pregnant with Zoe. A very big, but wonderful surprise! In November 1998, my Dad's friend Ernie and his brother were killed in an airplane crash. Again, I just didn't understand. And, once again, closed casket, so I didn't get to see him. No closure. Another chip in my joy.
I might also want to mention here that our time in Jackson, MS was our spiritual dark ages. We belonged to a church, but we were very hit or miss in attendance and neither of us were growing spiritually at all. I spent my days at work pining away for the day we could move back to Memphis, closer to my mom and my friends. Surely that would make it all better, right?
In January 2001, we moved back to Memphis. Adam was completely bogged in his studies and once law school was over, he was bogged down in studying for the bar. I definitely appreciate the sacrifice he made in doing that because he passed it on the first time.
When we moved to Memphis, we thought it was a permanent move. In June 2001, the firm where Adam was working offered to transfer him to Chattanooga after the Bar. We said yes. I still to this day don't know why I said yes. I am so very thankful that I did, but I can't remember why. So, in August 2001, we moved to Chattanooga. Everyday, Adam would get up, go to work with adults while I stayed at home with a two year old. We knew no one in Chattanooga and I was pretty miserable. Still, I wasn't growing spiritually at all. Here's where I am going to fast forward through a lot of the details...we had Sebastian in May 2003. In November 2003, Adam got saved! It was a miraculous transformation that I got to watch take place and the more he grew, the more he pulled me along with him. I started having quiet times again. But I never stopped to look back and figure out why I had stopped having them.
In March 2005, a revivalist was here at our church and he preached on getting your baptism in order. I realized then that I hadn't done that first simple act of obedience. So I did and was baptized.
Still my spiritual journey was so sporadic. Anytime anything remotely bad would happen, I would throw my hands up in defeat and get mad at God. Even though God blessed us with Jude in 2004 and with Annabelle in 2005, I still was having trouble letting go and truly trusting Him. I never once stopped to try to figure out why.
In January 2008, Adam lost his job. This turned out to be a blessing, but at the time it was very stressful. During that time, I was reading in a Bible Study I was doing (The Power of a Praying Woman) and somewhere in there, she talks about healing through forgiving God. I realize that God doesn't do any wrong and therefore doesn't need actual forgiveness. But, we as humans get mad at Him about lots of things and we have to let go of it. The Bible Study workbook had lines for you to write about what you were still angry about. I would have told you that I wasn't mad about anything, but as I started writing, I filled every line. I asked the "Why?" question, I asked the "How Could You?" question, I asked the "Why didn't you?" question...all of them. When I got done, I was emotionally drained from crying, but I had also emptied myself of all of that that I had been carrying around apparently for awhile. Only then could God fill me up with Him. I'll be honest, it wasn't instantaneous. He is still filling me. But I'm not fighting Him on it anymore. During that time was when I started to think about all of the things He saved those people from! Melanie never grew old, never got sick, never had any huge heartache. My Dad didn't grow old, he didn't have to watch his parents age, didn't have to suffer the loss of a spouse. I also began to realize that God did answer my prayers for my dad and my friend. I asked Him for healing and He gave it to them. Permanent, glorious healing!
All of these lessons would prove to be very important in June 2008 when my sweet mother-in-law suddenly went to be with Jesus after she had a blood clot. It was instant and quick and she was ushered into heaven. It was hard, of course, because, once again, she was just gone and now we had the added pressure of explaining to my children. But, because I had been emptied of my own emotions and filled with Jesus, this death didn't chip away at my joy. It made me so happy for her that her faith was now sight for her!
So, my journey continues complete with valleys and mountaintops. I have added memorizing Scripture to my daily routine just recently and that has so enriched my walk. God is so good and I don't say that lightly. He loves me more than I deserve to be loved and never gave up on me even when I didn't want Him. I will forever be amazed by His love.
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