I’m spending a little time sharing my testimony on my blog right now. It is a 4 part series. This is the third installment if you want to start at the beginning click here. In the first installment, I give a background on what my home life was like spiritually for the first 12 years of my life. In the second installment, I tell the story of how I came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
My mom and that boyfriend of her’s eventually got married. His dislike of me did not fade or soften with familiarity, in fact, I’m pretty sure in this case familiarity bred contempt. He and my mother dated for 3 years before they got married, and the length of that courtship was probably so long because he tried to negotiate me out of the deal. Unfortunately due to my parents' divorce agreement and my dad working the night shift I was unavoidable baggage my mom had to take along with her - at least that is what the man-made me feel every single day.
When they married my mom sold her house and we moved into his place. He had more acreage than we had and his land backed up to Forest Service so it was for the horses we had. His property also had an apartment over the garage. While he couldn’t ditch me entirely he could force me to live in this apartment. I was told I was not to come to the main house unless I had a direct invitation from him or my mother.
He was the first Christian that I had really got to meet outside of our neighbors so many years before and he was quite the specimen. It’s not the purpose of this story for me to detail the abuse that occurred leading up to the wedding and the years they were married, I will only say that it was awful, and at times unbearable and that my mother was fully aware of everything that was going on.
A bitterness grew in me towards Christians and the church. I had my stepfather and his abuse, and my mother blindly turning and eye or yelling at me for being hurt by it all. They became my stereotype for what Christians were like. I loved God but I hated his followers!
The town in which I grew up was heavily influenced by the new age movement and Universalism was at every turn. I began to wonder if perhaps the Christian path wasn’t the only path. Now I had never read the bible for myself nor had anyone read to me Jesus’s declaration that He is the way the truth and the life and that none could get to the Father without Him. I believed Jesus was the son of God, but I began to question if He was the only way to get to God.
How could a loving God, which I truly believed Him to be, have such awful followers? Maybe this wasn’t the true path. Maybe this wasn’t the purest form of worshipping the divine. Perhaps if God was as loving as I thought He was, He could be better found with followers who were also loving.
I have an aunt who claims to be a pagan priestess of the holy mother goddess. She was so accepting and loving of everyone including those who were different from her. I watched her. I watched the people who orbited around her, it seemed like a community I could be a part of - minus the weird tendency toward nudity. If it weren’t for my aversion to this I probably would have drunk the Koolaid.
This nudity and sexual promiscuity gave me pause to question if her way was, in fact, the right way. You see I was a good kid. I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t have sex, I got all A’s - other than my irritating tendency towards self-assuredness and arrogance I was a model teenager! I was 99% sure that my aunt smoked pot on the regular, this was obviously back when it was illegal in AZ. I didn’t want to associate with anything that was illegal.
Doubt raged just below the surface for some time. Then Christmas Eve happened in 2002. I had gotten a job as a waitress at a local Chinese restaurant. My dad had been the food delivery guy there since I was 3 years old so the family was long-time friends of ours. The place had become a refuge for me. My stepdad loved Chinese, but he hated that place so I was always guaranteed a break from him and my mom while I was there.
That was until that particular Christmas Eve. My mom and stepdad had decided to have dinner there that night, one fo the busiest nights of the entire year. The line for a table was 90 minutes long and people were waiting outside in the snowy parking lot to get in and get a table, and there in the center of my section sat my mom and stepdad. He was making a scene. He was being horrible and humiliating and it was non-stop.
At last my boss had had enough. She marched over to the table and let go of all the anger that she had bottled up for the year and a half that I had worked there.
“How dare you let him talk to your daughter like that? What kind of mother are you? And you,” She said turning on my stepdad, “vial scum picking on a 17-year-old girl like this. Get out of my restaurant.”
My stepdad refused to move, but the manager, seeing the situation unfold had already gone to the kitchen and got the very large, and very scary looking Mexicans from the back. Bringing the entire kitchen and cooking process to a stop they all marched up to the table and made sure my mom and stepdad left to a round of applause from the dining room. I was astounded, I was shocked, I was honored that they had stood up for me.
In that high of feeling valued and loved I finished out the night and my shift. I drove home with the misguided belief that I had attained a victory and that I would arrive unnoticed and go home to the quietness of my apartment like I did every other night after work. I was very wrong!
They were waiting for me. I won't go into the details, but they exacted their revenge on me. I went to bed that night with nothing left of me. They had robbed me of everything and my strong will was at last broken. I was brewing in bitterness and anger as I lay awake curled up in a ball on my bed.
They could take away everything. They could control everything about my life. They had all the power and I had none.
There was only one thing left that they could never control or take away and that was my heart and my mind. I wanted to make them pay. I wanted to disgrace them and expose them for the frauds that they were. They were well respected within our church and having a daughter who was a pagan would be the worst thing I could do to them, they couldn’t force me into being a Christian.
The wrestling and doubt had finally reached its pinnacle. Before I went to sleep I prayed “God I don’t know who you are or which path is the right path to you. I want you and only you. I don’t want any of this anymore. I hate them and I don’t want their way anymore. If all gods really do lead to one I want to pick a different way. I want you, but I want a different way. If it’s ok I’m going to take this other path, I’m going to become a pagan and dance to the divine in the moonlight.”
I drifted off to sleep with these thoughts and in utter turmoil. I was surprised to wake up in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what woke me, but I was fully awake and alert, considering the wretchedness in which I fell asleep I felt remarkably well. There was no tension in my limbs that I could feel, everything felt wonderful. I turned to look at the clock and I caught my own eye. There I was laying on the bed, I looked so peaceful while I slept, so beautiful. These were my thoughts for a moment or two before utter panic washed over me, I should not be looking at myself sleeping.
Then I saw it. There was a creature lurking over at my bedside. It reached forward and grabbed my left arm and searing pain ripped through my whole being. At that moment I heard a quiet whisper deep inside my soul “Who you are going to call for help matters, choose wisely.”
I forced myself to shout the only thing that made sense at that moment - Jesus Christ!
With a giant gasp of air, I was suddenly back in my own body and struggling to sit upright in bed. I spent the rest of the night in prayer. That was the night that I came to understand and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.