I have had a lot of experiences in my lifetime. Way too many to write about here. I’ll break it down into two parts: Before Christ and After Christ. I’ll even throw in some Why I CHOSE Christ, for added tangibility.
I was born into a family that loved me, but that love didn’t create a safe, warm, snugly, nurturing environment. We are often hurt the worst by those that love us, and that was certainly the case for me. Do I need to go into details of abuse? Goodness, I hope not, but I’ll touch on a few of the “highlights” of my BC life:
I was sexually, emotionally and mentally abused by my dad. Maybe he treated me better than his dad treated him, but I HIGHLY doubt it because my dad was mentally ill. I don’t mean the catch-phrased quirky kind that seems acceptable, or even coveted by some in our modern society. He was severely mentally ill. I think I can honestly say I’m one of very few who watched their dad try to beat their mom to death as she laid huddled in a fetal-ball beneath him, his fist pounding into her temple. On Mother’s Day. Then there was my dad escaping the mental hospital hundreds of miles away, hitchhiking to try to come back and finish killing her. There was lots of yelling in my house, sometimes my dad even acknowledged I existed and he yelled at me. Once he punched me in the jaw, which made it painful for me to hold my violin for a few weeks.
As a result, I was a pretty screwed-up kid and I nearly died when I was 16 because of my own stupidity.
Let me just say this: I lived in a house of horror because of mental illness as a child. There is NOTHING in Christianity that comes even close to actual mental illness.
Thankfully I got to spend the summers with my grandparents, who were Christians. Things weren’t perfect there, but they were better.
I hated myself for bad decisions I made.
So at 20 I made another decision future me would hate: I married someone I had convinced myself was “my best friend”. The problem was, I only knew him a short time before we married. The other problem I didn’t realize yet was: we were not equally yoked. He was not a Believer.
Trust me when I tell you that, yes, that absolutely does make a tremendous difference. Not only could I not share my faith with him and grow with him in that, he did not value me as God would help him if he were a Christian.
My ex-husband was abusive to me. Much like my dad, though not exactly to the same degree. But, there was also more aspects to the abuse from him. I was cut off from my family. I was locked-down at home, he had to know where I was and who I was with or talking to at every moment. I had to work and it had to be the graveyard shift. My earnings had to pay all the bills while he kept his earnings in a separate account and he bought anything he wanted for him. Never for me. He convinced me to get life insurance, but was angry when I was refused because of extensive damage caused by an eating disorder. When I was sick he treated me like I was faking it, wouldn’t let me call in sick to work or go to the doctor until it became emergencies. Once the car he made me drive nearly got me killed, the lug nuts on the tires he had just worked on weren’t tight.
I wasn’t safe with him. He actually saved my life by divorcing me.
Now I’m thankful he decided he didn’t love me anymore. Not only am I still alive, I am married to a man I am equally yoked with, who really is my best friend and who does value me.
But my divorce was the beginning of my personal rock bottom.
It was at that point I finally began to “own” my relationship with God through Jesus. (Thank God Jesus didn’t return while I self-focused, because after that “blink of an eye”, I would more than likely have been left here.) I got baptized. I began making changes and reading the Bible on my own.
Because I wanted to.
I could feel God healing my life and my heart as I read His Promises.
I went through a tremendous time of grieving the death of my old self. Regret, unforgiveness, shame… God helped me work through each one of those at my own pace. He never gives me more than I can handle as He works His healing, often one-on-one with me, through His Holy Spirit.
My “conversion” did not happen because someone preached a sermon and “guilted” me in to following Jesus and obeying God’s Word.
My life changed as a result of God working in my life. Often without people.
God illuminates His Word.
He teaches me how to be a better human being. He helps me look at people as individuals, not through my own preconceived opinions.
Why I Chose Christ:
Had I continued on my own path, my life would look like the night version of how I am now. It’s like Jesus called out to me through the darkness and despair, and He whispered to me, “I have a better way for you”.
His ways are higher than mine, so much better and healthier. His way is practical. It’s loving and kind. It’s rational. It’s peaceful.
Jesus is the best way. He is the truth. He is the light with no darkness in Him, nothing evil or hateful.
I wish the naysayers would pay attention to the positives Christians demonstrate, because I lived as a non-Christian and was surrounded by non-Christians. It was destructive, mean, harsh, even deadly.
My job as a Christian isn’t to try to convince others that Jesus is the Savior of the world. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job, to do all the hard work of preparing the way of the Lord for people’s hearts and minds to be ready.
My job is to love the Lord my God, and to love my neighbor like I love me. Give them the same benefit of the doubt I give myself. Show the same grace I believe I should be shown.
Some call that cutting people slack…
I just know– I’d personally rather have Jesus than anything this world could ever hold. I have known both– life without Jesus and life with Jesus.
He makes the difference. Not me. Not my choices.