Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Testimony

My Testimony –

“We have overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony…. “ Revelation 12:11

I have been meaning to put my testimony into words for quite a while now and joining a new church that asks for your written testimony is just the extra motivation I needed to make it happenJ I love the power our testimony has because it gives physical evidence to the work of the Lord.  It adds personal emotion to how it feels to go from lost to found, empty to filled, blind to seeing, selfish to selfless, burdened to free! I pray as you read my testimony that you will see God’s love BEAMING from it. Not a girl gloating of herself, but God’s grace and love overtaking a life and transforming it….

When I tell my “story” I start from the beginning. I was born in southwest Kansas to two young parents trying to find their way through life. Unfortunately their road ahead was not a road together and they were divorced by the time I was 3. Since I was so young when they divorced I never remember them together, and having them as divorced parents I was never sure why they were even married. Needless to say it was not a pleasant divorce of two parents working together for the common good. I know that they both love me with everything they have, but needless to say as I grew up their interactions were not pleasant ones and often were avoided whenever possible.

Next I jump to about age 5 when I had a year that would affect the rest of my life. A man unfortunately came into my life that sexually abused me ongoing for a full year. He perfected his brainwashing and took away everything that was innocent about me. One day as a Kindergarten student I confessed my abuse to my teacher. She was able to give me courage to tell my mother and put an end to the daily horror I was living. I will forever be thankful to that teacher even though she may never know.

Due to the situation of abuse my mother and I moved across the state, leaving a great distance between my mother and my father. This move only fueled the tension between my parents but also brought two more people into my life that would allow me to be blessed with 4 parents rather then 2.

As a child and adolescent I battled the scars that were left by my abuser. Overall I felt I had it “together” I had seen some counselors through the years, a few great and many awful. This would later fuel a passion to be a counselor to others that had been hurt. As a child I sought stability and confidence that I would not be hurt again. As a teenager my lost life played itself out in typical fashion. I sought love in all the wrong ways. I thought that surely the way to a man’s heart was through physical interaction, after all that is what I was brainwashed to believe from my abuser at a young age. I also believed like many young girls that in order to attract that male (that would “give” me love) I needed to be attractive and therefor skinny. This led me down a road of battling my already given food issues with Bulimia. Overall the adolescent years were not a good time in my life. While I can look back at high school and think “I had a great experience overall with sports, friends, etc..” I also look back and think “my classmates and those around me saw the worst of me.”

As a freshman in college I was determined to take a hold of my life. Not that I really knew what that meant but none the less I was determined! I wanted to make my own decisions, make my own plans, and overall figure out who I even was. I continued to look for happiness in men, partying, meaningless relationships, superficial things, etc.. and while they left me happy for a moment I still longed to be filled. I could see the path I was on was nothing but an endless cycle of temporary happiness and overwhelming emptiness, I wanted something more. Looking back I can see that God was pursuing my heart.

The summer after my freshman year I began attending church regularly with my Dad and Step Mom’s family. I had attended church now and then, had even gone to a church camp, but never really understood that God loved ME.  But as I began to attend the church it was as if the pastor was speaking directly to me each week. I would leave overwhelmed and curious. My step – mom and I would talk for hours about what it all meant and was this all real. There was no doubt that God was pursuing me and I wanted to be fulfilled by him. I didn’t know if God could love me, after all I was “damaged goods” but I wanted to take the plunge and figure it out. I had always believed in “God” but never realized that this wasn’t enough, that to be filled I needed to understand Him, have a relationship with Him, LOVE Him and let Him LOVE me!

I was so excited, gitty really giving my life to Christ (even though I didn’t completely know what that meant!) I was still selfish, worldly, struggling, just a raw little baby Christian beginning the journey. I decided that I would spend my summer figuring out what it meant to really be a Christian, perfecting my golf game, learning to love myself, and staying as far away from guys as I possibly could. But God had another plan….

The same summer I came to find true joy in the Lord, I also met my future husband. It was so funny how it happened, I can remember telling my best friend I was done with guys and taking a break from them and the non-sense that came with them. Then a few weeks later I was telling him that I just met my future husband. That really is how it happened. I met him on the golf course; I flirted with him as I would naturally but not wanting to have anything more than that. But I began to think of him constantly and one day he kissed me. That was it, a kiss that told me he would be mine. I felt as if for the first time in life God was giving me something just for me that was GOOD! I knew that Todd was the man that God had made just for me, and that He made me to be his wife! I know that it doesn’t happen that way for everyone and probably not for most but for me it was an instant moment that has never wavered. It left me instantly in love and bewildered at the timing! Strangely enough at the time I met my future husband he wasn’t even sure if he believed in God or that being a Christian was a good thing. But he soon walked down an amazing journey with me that has left him a strong spiritual leader in our family!

From that point on Todd and I were on overdrive; soaking up info, changing, growing, being refined, etc.. We moved to Missouri where God put amazing mentors in our life, gave us opportunities for growth, and taught us how to serve. While in Missouri we figured out what our passions are – for both of us: missions. For myself – mentoring/teaching young adults, serving through organization and creative forms, and helping in leadership roles. For Todd – mission leadership, men’s ministry, and mentoring when God calls. God taught us that we were living by His plan and not ours as he blessed us with two children (sooner than we had “planned”)  and a heart to add to our family with foreign adoption.  We also faced challenges that forced us to learn how to rely on God – my step father taking his life after a losing battle with alcoholism, becoming an interim youth minister in an emotional time for myself and our church, my step mom diagnosed with breast cancer, and more… But while not all those times left me portraying perfect Christian attitude or life, it grew me and refined me to be more Christ like today.

Then here we are today in Virginia embarking on a new journey, wondering what God has for us, and excited to see how he will use us. As I look back on who I have been and who I have grown to be I barely recognize the person I once was. That insecure, scared, confused girl seems like a separate person. Of course I still struggle with things (e.g. my body issues, desire for superficial stuff, a few deep scars from childhood) but overall I have been created new.  I enjoy the lessons that God is teaching us (some more than others.. lol) but I love the fact that I KNOW God is looking at me. In fact I just had a moment to remind me of this in the past week. At church on Sunday as we took communion I became overwhelmed by how undeserving I am of the price Christ paid for me. Trying to put into perspective what it meant and try and understand it in my earthly mind, it left me overwhelmed with emotion thinking that he would have still died even if it was for just ME. It’s hard for a girl who has always considered herself “damaged goods” to think she is worth that, as I’m sure it’s hard for most people to think they are deserving of something so amazing. Of course we all know we most definitely are NOT deserving and yet we have the gift before us.  After being overwhelmed later that week I had an encounter with God that reminded me that he does care for ME. He is looking into my life mapping out a perfect plan for me, and when I least expect it he opens doors to say “here I am , I love you, and I have your back!”

And so in saying ALL of this, I believe my testimony is forever growing. I daily work with the Holy Spirit to become less of the person I was (to die to that person) and become more like Christ. At times it is hard, uncomfortable, and painful. But overall it is beautiful, peaceful, joyful, and life giving! I wish that I could force everyone to take this free gift, to abandon selfish ambition and have a life that is full of LOVE. True unconditional life giving love that NO human can offer! I pray that my testimony sparks someone to examine where their heart lies and who fills up their life.

In closing I will say that now I can look at life differently, I can look and see the blessings – The blessings of being able to relate to the girl who has been abused, raped, dealt with an eating disorder. Relate to someone who has grieved over a life lost through suicide. Have compassion for a family who has a loved one fighting cancer. Be grateful that I was blessed with 4 wonderful parents to love me rather than just 2. Stand amazed at the gift of a wonderful husband, in-laws, and beautiful children. And know that it is only God who can do all that!

Thank you for letting me share


~ Rachel said...

I knew your story and cried anyway reading this. Beautiful job putting it into written word.

Becky@OrganizingMadeFun said...

What a wonderful testimony! God is so good and brings trials into our lives to draw us closer to Him! Praise the Lord for your testimony!

Becky B.
Organizing Made Fun

Shiloh said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I love how you said that our testimony is ever growing. I really think that's true. I think it's a sign of God's continued grace in our lives.:)

Cara said...

Thank you for sharing this, I feel very similar....My teen age years were spent trying to find myself, and finding love, in all the wrong places (wait a minute, that's a song, lol). I was blessed to find an amazing man, and we now have three beautiful girls. I fear that my girls will fall into the same footsteps I did, all I can do is pray, and show them the right path.