Hey friends. Today is the first of many grace-filled Testimony Tuesdays. I have many wonderful women who are going to be sharing their God Story here with you every week – but I figured that to start things off, I would share mine with you. I’m not going to share every single little path on my faith journey – but I am going to be giving you the big life-changing moments. (The women who are sharing in the following weeks will share their stories however they feel God leading them.)
So gals, buckle up – we’re starting this journey right now. And… it’s kind of a long one.
Growing up – I went to Sunday school. I sort of went to church occasionally. I mean, I knew the bible stories, I knew the characters, but I didn’t know WHY. I just knew that *Jesus Loves Me this I know, for the bible tells me so*.
In high school – I started seeing some friends REALLY get into Jesus. Like, Jesus Freak level. And I wanted that. But I didn’t know how so I just pretended. I went to youth group ( because cute boys were there). I went to church events (because my friends were there). I even went to Sunday School every Sunday (because I was popular there). But I didn’t *get it*. It was all just school lessons and more homework that went in one ear and out the other. I knew I had to *Be Good* and do the right thing – so I did my best… for a while.
Then I got to college – nobody was making me go to church. The church people I was meeting saw right through my faking it persona and they all called me out on my crap. They explained why a relationship with Jesus was important but they didn’t tell me how to get there. It felt like being set up on a blind date but not being told the exact location or what the guy looks like.
So I got mad. Mad at God. Mad at myself for not knowing. Mad at church for not teaching me. Mad at Jesus for standing me up on our date. So I told God – if you want me, come and get me – I don’t have time for your games. And from that moment – that is the outlook I had on life. “I don’t have time for your crap, make it worthwhile to me, or I am out.” I started living erratically and making poor choices involving boys and liquor. I got good at hiding my feelings and emotions deep down inside of the ice cave my heart had become. I was cold, calculating, and an expert at weighing my risks and perceived outcomes to control every aspect of my life.
Then one night – something I hadn’t accounted for happened. I was at a ‘friends’ house for a little hangout with people after work – intending to go home. But I all I know is that I woke up in the morning covered in my vomit – naked and confused. No one would tell me what happened, but I could already feel it. I had been drugged and raped by two guys.
My whole world shattered.
I drove myself to hospital with one shoe on – the other shoe lost forever -and learned that my blood alcohol level alone was so high that I should have died – not to mention whatever drugs may have been in my system.
But I wasn’t dead. I was alive.
And in an instant – sitting on that hospital bed waiting for social workers, doctors, and investigators. I knew that God loved me. I knew that He kept me alive. He wasn’t done with me yet. He had greater plans for me than I had ever had for myself. And I felt the love of Jesus engulf me.
At first, it was as though my soul was a vase – and I had been doing a really bad job of transporting this vase. It had been dropped there were a few chips. it rattled around a few times and had some stress fractures. But this rape, this trauma of my body – had shattered my vase. But Jesus – he was the glue. He came and not only glued all the pieces back together did such a thorough job that the cracks were barely visible.
The rest of my life, past that point of that initial gluing of the vase, has been a process of healing – and not just healing but the actual renewal of my soul. My vase no longer has any cracks. He not only glued them back together, but He has entirely made it new. He has made me new!
One of the HUGE moments in my healing process – was attending the IHOP (International House of PRAYER – not pancakes!) event in Kansas City a few months after the rape. I had been going to counseling for those few months and decided that I wanted to experience this BIG event all about prayer. I had a feeling that I was supposed to be there.
I sat in this big room with hundreds of other people who were all praying. By ourselves, with groups, out loud, silently, sobbing, any prayer you can think of – it seemed to be happening. I could feel the power present in the room. I sat down along an outer wall and started writing as fast as my hand would let me.
I wrote a prayer of forgiveness. I was asking God to forgive me for my wrongdoings and the hurt I had caused others. I begged him to wash me clean – from the inside out. I wanted to be made entirely new in Him. Now I’m telling you – this was a long prayer. I told God that I wanted to be made white as snow in His image. I wanted him to use me and use my story to change others’ lives. I begged Him to show me how to use my second chance at life in a way the pleases Him. I was a sobbing, blubbering mess.
Then, I went over to one of the youth leaders from our church, and I asked him to pray for me. I didn’t show him my prayer – he didn’t even know I had been writing one. But friends, he prayed for every single thing that I had written, and THEN he prayed it as though it was God answering – speaking directly to me. It blew my mind. Later, when I asked him about it – he didn’t even realize he had done it. He didn’t remember the words he had said; it was all from God.
Friends, I tell you all of this to encourage you. Maybe you are at a place in your life where you desperately want a relationship with God, like I did, but simply don’t know how to get there.
Don’t give up.
Maybe you’ve been faking it for years and are ready for the next step.
Don’t give up.
Maybe this is all crazy to you and you think I’m insane but you are oddly curious because you maybe feel like your life is kind of worthless.
Don’t give up.
God works on HIS TIME. Not ours. He knew that I would make bad choices. He knew that I wasn’t ready to do His work yet. He knew I would struggle. Yet he loved me anyway. And He was there, waiting for me with wide-open arms of healing, mercy, and grace when I was ready to give my life to Him. He used all the bad to make something beautiful. He made me. Brand. Spankin. New.
I hope you’ll come back next week to hear from a beautiful woman who has a life changing God Story that you won’t want to miss out on. It is incredible. God is INCREDIBLE!
Until next time, Emily B.