My testimony ought to be pretty straightforward and boring. I was raised in a good Southern Baptist home, attending church for the first time at the tender age of three…days! But as with most things that involve real people, my life and journey to salvation has been anything but straightforward.
The two halves of my family tree could not be more divergent. The paternal side is full of lovely, kind, and God-fearing people. Contrasting this, the maternal side of my family is filled with physical violence, mental illness, and substance abuse.
My mother became saved some time between meeting and marrying my father, and giving birth to me. Her family history is what it is and molded her into the woman that she became. As I said I was raised in church from birth, first asking Jesus into my heart at age six. I was also an abused child both physically and emotionally at the hands of my mother. I won’t go into all of the gory details here, but I had some hard, lonely times.
Often, victims of abuse attract other abusers. Such was the case with me. A much older cousin sexually abused me. The reason that I share my abuse as a part of my testimony is this: My earliest memories of personal prayer all involve asking God “why me?”. As a child I had the wisdom to go to God and pour all of my troubles and pains onto Him. But I did not learn patience, and trust, and faith. I got stuck in self pity and constant cries of “why me Lord?” and that is where I stayed for a good many years.
I grew and aged, left home very shortly after graduating high school without much thought about the future. The only plan I had was to find myself a husband. It wasn’t long before I married an agnostic divorced father 15 years my senior. I knew the admonition against being un-equally yoked, but I was twenty and IN LOVE and was so sure that it was what I wanted. Fast forward a couple of years and we began our family. I slowly drifted away from my faith.
I never quit believing in the saving power of the blood of my Savior, but I drifted away from Him all the same. Every couple of years I would make an attempt to start going to church again, read my bible, re-commit. I guess I just wasn’t real serious about it. My life stayed pretty much centered around myself and my happy little internal pity-party. Thankfully, God never gave up on me and never forgot me. He worked a bona fide miracle on my behalf.
Around Thanksgiving time the year that my oldest son was seven, my husband was quite suddenly fired from his job and denied unemployment benefits. My worry, of course, was providing a ‘christmas’ (meaning lots of loot) for my son. I took my usual ‘poor me’ attitude to the Lord in prayer. One day shortly thereafter I was checking out my bank balance to see if I had enough money to buy a gallon of milk. To my great surprise there was $200.00 in my account that I did not deposit! As you can imagine I was quite thankful and VERY intrigued. Due to strained family relationships I had not gone to my family for help. There were very few people who knew our sad circumstances. I hated to admit how very much we were struggling!
I questioned a friend at work whom I had confided in, she knew nothing about the money, but had mentioned my situation to our office manager. I took the manager aside and asked her if she was responsible. She began to cry before I could even finish speaking. She said that she had a little ‘extra’ money that week and that God had told her that I needed it. I felt the Holy Spirit slam into me with the force of a freight train! Not so much at the money, but the trust that this woman had in our God.
Even so, I slipped back into my faith very much the same way that I had slipped out of it. This miracle, as dramatic as it was to my family, and me was not a ‘road to Tarsus’ experience but rather the beginnings of God calling me back to Him. It continues to this day as I learn and grow and more things are revealed to me.
These days when I approach our Lord in prayer I look at the many, many ways in which I have been so richly blessed. I thank God almost daily that I was born in a place and time that has freedom of religion. I thank God almost daily for having been born into a family that taught me about Jesus when I was young. When I think about some of the darkness, the capacity for sin and evil that exists within my own heart – and I think about the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross – for me – I can’t help but cry and laugh and sing and praise and say “God, why me?” Why have I been so blessed by your gift of salvation? “Why me?”