Journey from Darkness to Light

My story begins in darkness. I chose to walk away from God and the relationship he offered. Even though I grew up in a Christian home and knew all the Bible stories, I still walked away. I think I was in my early teens when I began to question God and my faith. I remember asking my mom how she knew we (Christians) were right and her answer was pretty vague because I don't think she knew what to do with that. My mom believes the Bible is true and that is enough for her. It wasn't enough for me. Looking back on that time I believe what was missing was a relationship with Jesus Christ. He was my religion but not my Savior, Counselor and Friend. I said the prayer when I was five and remember being excited about God etc throughout my childhood until I was 13 or so.

I began traveling down a slippery slope when I was about the same age as I began to secretly read trashy novels. A friend at the Christian school attended shared her supply with me and I devoured them. As an avid reader I couldn't get enough books and these books I feel where the first step down a very sad and dark path.

When I was 15 I began to party off and on. I began hanging out with older guys and soon alcohol wasn't enough and I began to take whatever drugs I could find. Mostly over the counter pills (either my moms or a friend's grandmothers) plus pot. I also used some uppers off and on especially my senior year. I lived a life full of physical pleasure and did whatever pleased me. I lived for myself. I become angry and withdrawn at home alienating myself from my family. My junior year of high school was a dark year even though I attended a Christian high school and tried every once in awhile to live for God. In the end I usually ended up living for myself and the enemy. I thought about suicide and death a lot but didn't have the courage to end my life. I hopped from one relationship to another. I went from party to party. Anything to numb the pain I felt inside.

I wanted to go into nursing school when I graduated but I messed that up. My mom's friend introduced me to her sister who was looking for a live in nanny which I jumped at that chance. Anything to get out of my house and hopefully live life the way I wanted. I still partied some but not as much. It all came to a stand still when my aunt died from a long illness. I was devastated. I lost my job as a waitress, a part time job I had acquired along with the nannying. I eventually had to move back home after promising my dad I would not hang out with the "old" crowd. I didn't.

On a whim a few months later I joined the Air Force. God used several people during that time to try and reach me but I was stubborn and not ready to commit my life to him. I met my husband about 2 months later and within 6 weeks we were married. I think at the time I believed he would fill that empty feeling inside but he didn't. Don't get me wrong - God was very gracious in me choosing this man. He was kind, loving and dedicated. BUT he was an atheist. And he wasn't the shape of the emptiness inside me. Only God could fill that hole. We tried church a few times but eventually we left feeling disillusioned and eventually became anti-God and anti-church. We had two sons before we were finally ready to enter a church again.

I dealt with depress ion off and on for the first few years of our marriage. Plus insecurity, anger, and loneliness. Little did we know that God was getting ready to crash into our lives. He was preparing the way through various people in our lives. It was the Christmas of 1994 when I decided it would be a good idea to go to church on Christmas Sunday. I was afraid to ask my husband because I was pretty sure he was going to say no. BUT he didn't. We went to church with my mom and I was so uncomfortable. The Holy Spirit was working but I wasn't ready or did I really want that uncomfortable feeling. I didn't want all the old garbage to come to the surface. I didn't want to deal with darkness in my heart. The service ended and I was so thankful. I was fairly certain we wouldn't have to go back because I didn't think my husband would like it. Guess what? He did. He loved it. Couldn't stop yammering about it. I was confused. Shocked. What was going on? He went back for the evening service. Alone. I sat at home with the boys in complete dismay.

Well the next Sunday he announced he was going back. I am thinking - aren't you an atheist? Why do you want to go to church? God has a sense of humor I think. I look back at that time and laugh. I was the one who wanted to go but my husband was the one who ended up loving it. Well I didn't want to sit home again so I got myself and the boys ready - we went to church. I believe it was the second Sunday that I went forward - so compelled by the Spirit I couldn't stay in my seat. I knelt at the altar and confessed and wept. The following Sunday - the same...and I think it was several weeks of heading to the altar before I felt free. I felt like the chains had been broken and I was free - free from the sin, shame, guilt, loneliness, anger etc. Of course over the years I have struggled and wallowed in the pit of shame and guilt. BUT that moment in the front of that church and for many years I felt so much joy...I was hungry for God's word and his presence. It was amazing.

The story doesn't end there. God continues to surprise me. God continues to do things that make me laugh. We now have 5 boys. We served the Lord for about 7 years in full time ministry and before that we served him at that little church where we first found him. Praise His Holy Name!
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