This is a guest blog post from Eva. This is her story about how Jesus changed her life…
I was born into church and I was named after the pastor’s wife, yet it didn’t stop me from falling down. I would make decisions to give things up for the Lord, would walk straight for a little bit and then get upset and angry because I felt my sacrifices weren’t being seen. I would often look up and yell at God as if my bad behavior would change his mind like some bratty child.
It didn’t move him.
I experienced a lot of disappointments and hurts and I would focus on them obsessively. I spent years in and out of church, each time only giving God pieces of me; those I chose to give him.
One issue that arose was during a time when I was accused of vandalizing church property, receiving prank phone calls throughout the night, and getting different types of deliveries to my home. It became the biggest nightmare I had to live through.
A friend of mine from within the church told me that this was a test from God and if I walked out on the test, God would make me repeat it again down the road somewhere. I took the advice and I continued to endure, even though it was hard for me. A few months later things began to settle down.
To complicate matters, I was facing all of the issues in my life with a newborn baby, whom I had with someone else a year prior, out of wedlock. My mind was so clouded with anger, rage and hurt that the only thing I could do to keep my sanity was keep a journal.
Years had gone by and I would go to every type of church just to be in church and even stayed for a while at some of them. However, I would still carry on my old behavior of only giving God part of me. I grew to hate the verse “Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven” because that meant my agenda was over and I just couldn’t do that.
After all, God allowed all of these bad things happen to me in life and if I wanted a life I had to live it my way because he didn’t seem to have a good plan for me like he did everyone else. I truly believed it and my life showed I did. All I could see was broken hopes and dreams, nothing else. I focused on what wasn’t happening in my life and grew more and more resentful.
I had already had a divorce under my belt, a baby who had her life start out with mommy not knowing who she belonged to and a long list of hurts and all of this by the age of 23. I readily admit I didn’t look “look the part” when I went into any church and I knew well enough what they thought about me. That was understandable to me as well. At the end of the day though, I didn’t feel welcome at any church.
That’s when I began to ask the question, which turned into an obsession, “Am I good enough?” That question drove me to the point where I began to give myself reasons not to go to church anymore.
By age 27, I had married again, ended up divorced again, with another child and step child. My choices affected my three children. I started to become one of those people who went out with men and some, I don’t remember their names. I became cold, rude and hateful. I was getting out of control and deep down; I knew I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize.
One day though, I remember standing in my mother’s kitchen and I heard a still small voice, whisper to me, “Whose side are you on?” The answer I wanted to give wasn’t the answer I knew to be true. I was standing there frozen, but even after that event I continued to carry on as normal.
A few months later I was at my boyfriend’s house and could see a church I had only gone to for a concert with my mom. I was hearing this question ringing inside, “I wonder what’s going on there right now?” I shook it off and angrily said, “They are Pentecostal. Not going there!” Every Sunday while I would drive home from my boyfriend’s I would hear, “you should be in one of those right now” each time I would pass a church. I fought it for months.
Ironically, my boyfriend knowing one of the things I had given up for God years prior sat at the table when we first started dating and said to me, “Where is your God now?” Here we were six months later and God was starting to speak to me.
It was mother’s day weekend nearly eight years ago. I finally caved in and walked into that church. I had heard a song that brought me to tears in my car a year prior called “Drinking from My Saucer” and that night the writer/singer of that song Michael Combs was there. For me, it was as if God himself sent a serenade for me.
I knelt at the altar and got up different, except I didn’t know it yet. I never looked back after that night even though my trip to the altar was unemotional. The first year was a lot of falling down. God put people in my path to love me, to reach me and to share I wasn’t the only one ever hurt or who has made mistakes. I didn’t know that one trip to the altar was the end of my “sitting on the fence days”.
God was getting ready to blow my mind over and over again. Everything was going to change. My walk has been filled with reforming, renewing, redoing, rethinking and being restored, revived and re-schooled. I was in process and to this day I still am. Even though I sat in the back of the church with arms folded and having to make sure my pastor understood I had been hurt, and inside my head telling people, “Leave me alone!” love still penetrated through all of the walls I had built.
The more I went, the more my guards started to come down. God didn’t send me to a place that withheld the truth nor was I in a place that played church. God gave me a pastor that was about kingdom business and building people. Love made me stay, truth set me free. The people were loving and kind and took me in like family. I loved them too.
A year or so into my restoration, I had a dream. In this dream I stood by the fence yelling at my neighbor about the bottle and piece of paper in her yard. I was telling her how she was bringing our property values down with her trash in her yard. Her head remained down as I was ripping into her. I went to go into my own home to find the city dumping trash in my back yard. I woke up from that dream and woke up to how I had been to all these people in my life.
I and Jesus started to work in my yard and you can believe I never spoke or felt about people the same ever again. He broke me that night and taught me a lesson I would never forget. All the obsessing and blaming I did was facing me all because of one dream but it caused me to view people differently and it also caused me to take a deep look inside and forgive people. It caused me to learn to be kind, gentle, meek, loving and to make amends for the wrong I had done to them. I learned to take responsibility for my actions.
Since giving all of my life to the Lord and living for him he has allowed me to see things I never saw before. Those pastors, ministers and those who carry the gospel, well he showed me what it takes to be them. He allowed me to be in places to see their lives in a way most don’t get to. Needless to say, I don’t bash them anymore, I pray for them, I love and thank God for them and I encourage them.
I am involved at church as I learn and grow under a pastor as I once did years prior. I am continuing to learn what the Body of Christ is and I am realizing I am part of His body.
In this life, we will be hurt, we will be disappointed but Jesus is here for us. We all have issues to work on, we all have sinned but we can be servants of God and serve each other. God is our Teacher because he has a lot to teach us even still. God continues to correct us and love us through everything we face.
While I was struggling and messed up, he continued to love me. His love, grace and mercy is always with you. Have faith in him and walk the Word out in your life. When you face trials, apply what God has and is teaching you. He doesn’t always give you the answer on your time line; he reveals his mysteries in his own, in his own time.
I was about to write this testimony out when he showed me what all my holding on to hurt and sitting on the fence did to me. Satan was a spider and he was building a web. I sat there so long I became entangled in his web. It was harder and harder to move and things kept getting pulled in, surrounding me. My mind was not clear. You have to move in order to keep from being entangled and it takes not giving up or giving in. It means making a choice and walking free. I am grateful the Lord who called my name and beckoning me home. I thank him with everything within me that the question “Whose side are you on” was asked in my praying mother’s kitchen, not when I had drawn my last breath and it was too late. I am grateful he saw past my bad behavior and saw purpose. Many things these days seem new to me. Every lesson is exciting for me and every time he shows up in my situations in life I am joyful beyond words. I am still after all these years stunned that I am here in this place with him.
For those who have been hurt please let it go. I know that is hard to do, but holding on hurts you, not anyone else. Forgive them and forgive yourself too. I learned in time and the hard way that things aren’t always what they seem. How we perceive things can be a big factor so pray through and God will change perspectives. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.
Oh yeah and that friend of mine who put me through the ringer in that church so long ago? I ran into her at a grocery store. We stood there and talked and ended up apologizing to one another. She passed away a few years ago and I am looking forward to shouting around the Throne of God with her! Forgiveness and freedom is a beautiful place just ahead of you-just keep walking, keep trusting, keep praising, keep worshiping, keep praying and keep pressing on. God hasn’t forgotten you!
Ephesians 4:32 reads, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+4:32&version=NLT