My whole entire life I always felt like I wasn’t right. I didn’t look like everyone else. I didn’t think like they did most of the time. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and that feeling went everywhere with me. While growing up, I used to sneak out of the house on Sunday mornings and go to church. Going to church wasn’t forbidden, I just happened to get up before everyone else and felt the need to go. (Ok, let me confess. I just wanted to eat the banana bread the ladies had out between Sunday School and the 11 o’clock service and I didn’t want to share with my 9 other brothers and sisters!) But it’s what happened AT church that led me to so many directions. The lady who led the Sunday School was an incredibly loving, kind, and generous woman. Unfortunately, her son didn’t quite live up to her level of righteousness. He was a bully and said things often that would hurt me to the core. Her lessons didn’t heal the pain, but they gave me something else to focus on. I never stopped going because that woman was telling me things that were important- but I just couldn’t figure out why they were so important. I believed in God with all my heart, but this Jesus thing was just too complicated. I didn’t get confirmed in the church because I felt like it wasn’t my time, even though I was always sorry I hadn’t.
Jump ahead to today. I’m still searching for what my job is supposed to be on this Earth. The last week of the Bible study was intense and really racked my belief system. Let’s face it, the books of Job and Revelation are like The Walking Dead kind of dreadful stuff. You REALLY have to search to find something positive out of all of it. Up until today, I hadn’t seen the benefit of those two most important parts of the Bible. The part of Job that means the most to me is the ability to see that the journey is not the important aspect, it’s what happens in the end. Going through tough times is horrible while it’s happening, but when you look backwards, you see the old you. The you that doesn’t exist anymore. You’re standing there as a new person. Tougher you. Stronger you.
I didn’t get confirmed in the Lutheran Church. I didn’t even say the prayer of forgiveness when I was doing all kinds of stuff that was not only bad in God’s eyes, but was causing me more pain. I had been married 4 years and we were stationed in Germany with the Army. My friend Jenny asked me to do a Bible study with her. Why not, I had nothing else to do. She gave me the book, and the tapes, and we met at my house once a week. About the third week in, I was listening to Kay Arthur talk about how she had been at the lowest part in her life. She talked about being in a hotel room, and how she got down on her knees and begged God to forgive her for all the horrible, terrible things she had been doing. I don’t know why, but I was sobbing. I felt this pressure in my heart, like I had never felt before. I went down on my knees, and said the same prayer she did. Just to be sure, I got in a hot shower, and said it again. “Dear God, I’m not doing what you want. I’m not being the person you want me to be. Please forgive me, and let me be new. Jesus, PLEASE come into my heart, and let me live forever in You.” I changed, in that I began to see things in the Bible that I hadn’t seen before. But it wasn’t the complete change that I needed to make.
We moved to Savannah, GA, and my husband got called away for a deployment. I began searching for a church that would bring me closer to Jesus. I visited the First Baptist Church one Sunday. With a very young baby in the nursery, and a 3rd Grader in the pew next to me, I felt the pull on my heart again when the preacher called if anyone wanted to come to the alter and lay everything at God’s feet. I left my son in the pew, and went to the alter. Again, said the prayer, but this time I cried because I knew I needed to make the final change. Two weeks later, I was baptized. This was the marriage ceremony that showed the world that I loved Jesus.
Now every TRUE follower of Christ will tell you that walking with Jesus isn’t easy. We have lots of distractions. Lots of reasons to not do what God wants us to do, and lots of ways to it hide from the world. But God knows. Always. The thing I want to leave you with is this: who we are is not dependent on what others perceive. Who we are is what God sees. This is where that “Judge not, lest ye be judged” thing comes in. To find yourself, you have to let God show you. And when you find it, then you have a job to do to let others know who you are.
Who I am now is not what I was, although my past is important to understanding the direction I’m going. But I have this one truth: I’m no longer looking for me. I’m instead going to look for the person Jesus has in mind…