I often speak to people about my past. Looking back I can see how God has been with me through it all, even when I refused to believe he could exist. I always had the attitude, ‘well if there is a God then I’ve certainly never heard from him or experienced all those good things “religious” people go on about.’ I knew many things before I started my personal relationship with Jesus. My knowledge was brokenness, depression, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, isolation, abuse, guilt, and shame, to name some. My first 29 years of life were a mess, I was molested by two different men by the time I was 8 years old, one of whom was my father. I lived in an alcoholic home and dealt with fear and profound sadness everyday, my mental health issues had me off and on medication for 17 years of my life and dropping out of school in grade 10. From a very young age I wanted to die. I couldn’t have healthy relationships with anyone which left me with very few friends and a divorce at the age of 27. The shame and hurt of an unfaithful husband and an unwanted title began my day to day coping mechanisms of sedation medication, anti-depressants and chronic pot smoking. Having hurt and disappointment had become what I expected out of life, it was my normal, my comfort in a weird way. So when I permanently injured my back at work when I was 28, I thought, well no surprise, this is how it goes. I was done, chronic mental pain and now chronic physical pain. Suicide became my one ambition. I had never wanted anything more in my life then to die. Fortunately, anxiety still had an incredible grip on me and I was just too afraid and guilt ridden to take my own life.
So, as I continued to work up the nerve, I started physio and began to alter my life accordingly. I also added pain pills to my daily cocktail of numbing drugs. I was able to do modified work and started training a new girl who began talking to me about God. I laughed inside as she explained his goodness to me, I mean come on, where was he these last 28 years if he existed? I wanted to be polite so I listened and acted interested. We quickly became friends as we had a lot in common, you know, minus the God loving of course. She invited me out to a small group she went to through her church. I honestly don’t know how the word ‘sure’ came out of my mouth because I avoided social situations like the plague. I instantly tried to come up with excuses as to why I couldn’t and explained my anxiety as a last attempt. She said she understood and that instead, why not just come and meet the leader of her small group? People pleasing had me agreeing to this, I figured a quick coffee with her and her friend could have me back home and high by the time 9pm hit, so lets just get this over with.
Well God has interesting ways of getting your attention, this was no quick coffee. I met an incredibly friendly woman who just oozed joy and I thought, well she seems too happy for her own good. She was interested to get to know me and asked me about myself with a genuine interest and care that I didn’t understand. As I stared at the ground and awkwardly squirmed in my seat, I found myself sharing my life with her for some reason. I told her all those ugly things that we don’t tell people, I told her about my death wish and deep struggle. She sat there and listened. I was no stranger to therapy as I had been in and out of it for about 6 years until I aged out when I turned 18, but I had never been more raw and open to anyone than I was in that moment. I didn’t realize it, but that night I experienced God’s love for the first time. After I finished pouring my heart out, I told her for all these reasons that I was done, there was nothing else I could do. I had tried everything to keep going and I was tired, so I was throwing in the towel. She looked at me with love in her eyes and asked me “If you have nothing to lose, then why not give God a try?” Everything changed in that one moment, although I didn’t recognize it. I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so I agreed to let him try. I didn’t understand what it all meant in that moment but she was right, I had nothing to lose. I began going to her group each week and then found myself in church a couple months later. I began learning about God and how to have a personal relationship with him. I was surprised to learn its not about a religion at all like I thought, it was about getting to know God personally and starting a relationship with him. About 6 months after my not so quick coffee, I went up to the front of church and accepted Jesus into my life. God had always loved me, even though I didn’t know him until now.
I’ve learned that God doesn’t force himself on us, he waits ever so patiently for us to come willingly to him. We were given free will and some of us go through our whole lives thinking that living by the worlds standards and doing it in our own strength is the only option, but it’s not. If you find yourself lacking purpose, strength, love or any of those important things we need as humans, why not give God a try? God was a part of me now, I was a new creation. This was just the start of my new life, it was as if I was starting from scratch. In the next part of my story I’ll explain how letting go of the past is much harder then expected.
this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17