My Love Story
My love story is also my testimony, Revelation 12:10-12. It’s the story of how the Light of Truth exposed, and then transformed, my wrong thinking. This is the story of how I learned to walk in the Way to Life, which is right thinking.
Looking back, I can see how my insecurities had full reign of my life. It wasn’t until I learned to humble myself that I found true security in God’s Love. This doesn’t mean however that my insecurities just laid down and died. On the contrary, attempting to turn from what had control over me actually made me aware that I was in bondage.
I now see my ego, (flesh, pride, sinful nature…) as the enemy, continually attempting to regain its place of authority.
It truly is this testing and persevering that matures and completes us, James 1:4 .
It was during Jacob’s literal and spiritual struggle with man and with God that God changed his name to Israel, (one who struggles and prevails), Genesis 32:28, Genesis 35:10.
To Those who Prevail, Revelation 15:2
I wanted to know how to prevail like those who did not love their life or shrink back from death, Revelation 12:11 Y’shua overcame and this was His testimony before Pilate, “…for this reason I was born and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the Truth…” John 18:37
The religious leaders, those who had the scriptures memorized, did not recognize the Incarnate Truth. The Eternal One the Scriptures testified about, John 5:39; Isaiah 9:16; (Isaiah 7:14; John 1:14) were blind to the Truth because of their ego’s, Psalm 10:4.
To Testify to the Truth
There is a reason each one of us is born into this life, a much bigger picture than our limited view is even capable of imagining. Somewhere beyond our finite logic and five senses. There’s a spiritual wisdom that is so contrary to our ego and our own way. It goes against every fiber of our human nature and teaches us to completely humble ourselves in reverence to an Awesome, Unseen, Mighty, Fierce, Fearsome, Wonderful, Compassionate and Merciful Creator Who Loves each and every one of us exactly the same.
That leads me to begin my own unique story. As a child I had a strange goal, not to go to Disneyland but to be baptized into the Christian faith. I call this a good example of reverse psychology since my biggest reason was probably being told I couldn’t, not until I was eighteen anyway.
My Aunt had taken me to church on Sundays from the time I was about four years old and I had two grand-mothers who also influenced me.
My parents had hoped to raise their children differently. Their own religious upbringing was very strict so they gave me, and my younger brother, the choice.
Eventually my weekend trips with my Aunt ended and my dream of being baptized was temporarily forgotten.
Who knew what a mess I would make of my life before I even turned eighteen.
During my freshman year of high school I slid right in with the kids who liked to smoke, what ever we weren’t supposed to, and drinking was only done in excess.
I met my first husband at 15 and we got married when I was seventeen and he was 20.
Now when I turned 18 I remembered my goal of getting baptized. This was also about the time I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. The news shocked me into reality, and scared me enough to straighten up, immediately.
I loved this baby girl, sight unseen, and I wanted nothing more than to be a good mom.
My husband and I had already separated but we hoped the baby would help our marriage. We began going to a few different churches but ended up separating for the final time soon after our daughter was born.
I moved in with my now dearest friends who just happened to be Seventh Day Adventist.
I did finally get baptized about a year later and all was good at the beginning. I loved everything about the SDA church; the rules, the traditions, the potlucks, the music, I guess it was the fellowship with people that made it feel like I was part of a big family. It wasn’t long before I started feeling the pressure to get married to a “godly” man so my, now almost two year old, daughter wouldn’t grow up without a dad.
By the time I was twenty-two I gave in and married a man from an exceptionally strict SDA family, who was also divorced with three children.
If You Feel Like You’re Giving In You’re Being Manipulated
After four years of trying to conform completely to my new expectations; cooking vegan vegetarian, no television, no movies, no music with a drum beat, no jewelry, no more wearing men’s clothing, all the bed sheets washed, floors mopped, home-made bread baked, food prepared for Sabbath and believe it or not I loved doing everything on that list, but I just couldn’t keep up.
Looking back I can see myself slowing drowning in the hopelessness of despair. I believed there was something wrong with me and that I must be a terrible mom and step-mom because I was told other women were able to do all this and more.
One small act of rebellion finally brought everything to a head. It was a rare day that I was alone with my daughter at the mall. As we passed a kiosk advertising, “free piercing with purchase,” she pointing to the tiniest pair of ear-rings I’d ever seen. Although I subconsciously knew the consequences I made the choice to re-pierce my ears and let my daughter pierce hers.
News traveled fast through my little church community and it wasn’t long before I started getting phone calls kindly asking me “not to return.” Mothers were upset about my bad influence on their daughters. One even told me that God would never forgive me for piercing my daughters ears.
In spite of the warnings I routinely went to the Wednesday night prayer meeting. Afterwards the Pastor sat me down and told me that all he saw when he looked at me were the (pin head size) earrings I was wearing.
My church had really become like family to me, so the rejection hurt at a deep level. I knew I was the same person with or without the earrings, and since I’d related these people to God, when they wanted me to leave and never come back, I believed God felt the same way.
A Desperate Attempt to End the Torment
That familiar feeling of depression revisited me, like when I was a teenager. I’d shut myself in my room right when I got home from school. Sometimes hiding the fact that I’d come home stoned but always because I was trying to drown out the emptiness of my life with the loud noise I called music.
That same hopeless confusion was triggered again as I began to feel trapped with no way out. I’d given in to the pressure of getting re-married to a “godly” man in the church, I had to quit the job I loved, working at a Hospital laboratory, because I couldn’t keep up with the kids and the household chores.
Another divorce wasn’t an option and I was losing the battle with the tormenting thoughts of how bad I was. One morning I gave into to my nagging desire for some relief from the chaos in my mind. It was like I stepped into the eye of the storm as I calmly proceeded. My mind was so quiet as I contemplated the details… I clearly heard this thought in my mind, “die to yourself and live for Me.” I remember how instantly I had hope, like I was free, as if someone had turned on a light switch.
My Road Trip to Freedom
Now I can see how badly I misunderstood what dying to my self meant. The only thing I cared about was myself. I was off to find that freedom and pursue happiness.
I told my husband that my daughter and I were leaving for six months because I needed a break. I packed a few things in my Toyota Corolla and we drove from Washington straight through to Arizona.
I felt really blessed to get a job the day after I arrived, in a hospital laboratory. I was so relieved and happier than I could ever remember being. I kept thanking God, not because I was asking or even searching for Him. I was thanking Him because He was allowing me to find true happiness in this life.
The Fable of Finding Happiness
And I did find happiness, I’d never felt so happy, everyday was blue skies, I joined a gym and started taking aerobics classes. And that is were I met a very attractive man teaching my Tuesday and Thursday aerobic classes. He was even playing contemporary Christian music. I’d never experienced infatuation like I did when I saw him. I thought about him constantly.
It wasn’t long before he asked me out on a date and my heart skipped a beat. I melted when he looked at me and again I thanked God because now I knew what true love felt like.
The only thing true about that kind of love is its infatuation and it really does make you blind. I remember giving in, again, on everything I’d told myself I’d never do. He eventually proposed and then told me I had to become the same religion he was. I put my foot down firmly and said no. I had learned from my last experience not to ever become religious. again. So I watched him leave but he manipulated me with his tears and I ended up becoming Lutheran.
We got married when I was twenty-seven. Our wedding was like a fairy tail that ended with a storm. I didn’t notice my daughter’s sad expression in our wedding pictures but I continued to thank God for blessing me with true love and happiness.
That Mountain Top Happiness is Painfully Temporary
Unexpectedly, but to our delight, I got pregnant within the first month of our marriage. I’d already began to notice a downhill slide from that Mountain top high. His interest in other women was no secret and by the time our son was a toddler, I heard those dreaded words, “there’s someone else” and “I never loved you.” Despite what the songs say, the fall from that mountain was far more painful than any temporary happiness.
The Blur of Stress
The business of living life kept me existing in self-preservation mode. I worked overtime and took night classes as my thirties flew by in a blur of stress. Now I was a single mom with two children. I had just enough belief in God to blame Him even more than I’d thanked Him and I mean for everything; all the pain and suffering in my life and in the entire world.
This time I wasn’t feeling the hopelessness of depression like I’d experienced previously, this felt more like numbness, a hardness or bitterness with a lot of underlying anger.
During this time I’d been sending my daughter to visit her dad and step-mom in Oregon off and on. One day at work I got that dreaded phone call that she was in the emergency room and wasn’t expected to live. When I arrived in Portland she was alive but they said she may need a liver transplant if she survived. She didn’t really want to die but the nurse didn’t give us any hope because she’d seen many girls who’d taken a handful of Tylenol in an emotional moment and three days later they go into liver failure even after regretting what they’d done. My daughter did recover but I returned home without her even though I was sure she’d choose to return with me to Arizona. Apparently she loved everything about Portland Oregon and the counselors told us that at high school age the friends she’d finally made were most important.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I was diagnosed with Basal Cell skin cancer that required surgery. This left me with an ugly scar on my chest and another dreaded shock.
I realized I needed some counseling even though my depression had never returned I had a numbness that seemed to replace my emotions. I wasn’t even taking any medications but it seemed like I’d succeeded in deadening my feelings naturally. The counselor suggested I rent a sad movie in hopes that I’d be able to make myself cry until I made “donkey noises,” and to enroll in a single parents class at Grace Community Church. A few weeks into the class, the Pastor, (Jeff Meyer) asked me why I didn’t go to Church? I told him how I felt about the hypocrites that go to church and he said, “there’s always room for one more.” He told me that he never looks at the people and all their problems. He only looks at how he can help people. Not only did I get his point but the thought of helping people really appealed to me. I went to church that next week trying to see people as being as needy as I was for some kindness.
Tailor Making My Own Religion
About the same time a co-worker told me about some Western teachings of Eastern religions that had really helped her and I jumped in with both feet.
After years living my own way, feeling pretty self-sufficient, I turned on my radio one quiet evening and heard, “there are people tailor making their own beliefs these days…” It was so freaky because I’d been doing just that, picking and choosing. That was the night it finally hit home. I could really see the mess I’d made of my life by doing things my own way and I was more than ready to give up and let God show me His way.
I’d moved across town and found a church called “Word of Grace”. One Sunday morning I was sitting near the back of a packed auditorium yet I clearly remember how it felt like the Pastor, (Gary Kinnamen), was talking directly to me. Again the message was about ordering my own life by picking and choosing what I thought was true. I’d never felt such a spiritual touch on my heart, tears started rolling down my face. He was summoning people to come forward if they wanted to re-dedicate their lives and instead of leaving so nobody would see me crying, I went forward. It felt like angels were ushering me on both sides because I would have never done that on my own. When I got to the front the pastor shook my hand and a woman prayed for me. She gave me a Bible and I walked away totally bewildered, wondering all the way home if that was God and why and if He could really love me.
God really does draw us by His loving kindness, Jeremiah 31:3.
I read that Bible and very slowly I began to believe God really must love me and that He had never given up on me. It was like He let me go my own way and then turned all the bad into something that cultivated good in me; a great appreciation, humbleness, compassion, forgiveness and love. Those who have been forgiven much love much, Luke 7:46-48 . The lies I’d been believing were also slowly being exposed by the Truth I was learning. I’d wake up thinking about His Love in the morning, the littlest things reminded me of His presence during the day and my last thoughts at night were focused on Him. God became My greatest delight! My favorite thing to do is still to search for Him, in His Word, in His creation, in silence, in music, in laughter and especially in pain.
This was just the beginning of my spiritual hunger and thirst that intensifies more and more as I read and study the Living Words of God, Hebrews 4:12.
Now, in view of all life’s difficulties, I can personally testify to the Truth of God’s Faithfulness, Provision, Comfort, Mercy, Compassion and Loving Kindness.
I didn’t have a heart full of love for people before I knew His Love, especially the people I didn’t know. Now I do! I didn’t care about anything but my own happiness and now I genuinely care about everyone I meet. I was full of bitterness and holding grudges, now I pray for the people who hurt me and I ask God to bless them the way He blessed me to finally understand the Truth of His Love. I was impatient and now I’m learning to be long-suffering. I was always in a hurry and now I stop myself when I’m in a rush and discipline myself to slow down to God’s pace. When I prayed my short one-sided prayers they were all about me and what I wanted God to do. Now I can’t get enough time to just be alone with Him. I’m not the same person that I was and I’m bursting at the seems to share everything His Spirit is teaching me.
Has this transformation been easy? No, following Jesus means choosing the difficult way but He is my Strength. Try loving your enemies and blessing those who curse you or swallowing your pride and being humble.
How great and how huge, how awesome and almighty is our amazing God!!
His plan is perfect even if it includes pain, suffering and death! We don’t have to like it or even understand it, we only need to trust Him. He turns the pain and adversity of life into the very thing that produces the beauty of His Spirit in us.
2 Corinthians 4:17 “Our light and momentary affliction is ever more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting glory.
Rom 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No test, (trial, temptation) has overtaken you that is not common to man. But God is faithful not to let you be tested beyond your ability to endure, with the test He will provide the way out, that you may be able to bear it patiently.
James 1:2,3 Rejoice when (not if) you encounter trials of various kinds. Be assured that the testing of your faith brings out endurance and patience.
1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trails you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so you may be over joyed when His glory is revealed.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to those with a broken and contrite, (penitent, truly and humbly repentant) heart.
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices that please God are a broken and contrite heart.
Revelation 12:11 says, “They overcame him, (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
His Love is True, Everlasting, Healing and Transforming. It’s what drew me out of my bondage of deception and taught me what dying to myself really meant. I wanted the easy way, I just wanted to be happy. I was always in a hurry, rushing and stressed out. Exhausted and running on empty I just kept spiraling downward on a path that seemed normal.
All the noise, confusion and disorder had drowned out His voice of peace deep inside me, saying; relax, just wait, come and rest with me, be still and know that I am God, slow down, be slow to speak and quick to listen, in quietness and trust is where I renew your strength. He restores my soul as I sit with Him and soak in His Love, it covers over a multitude of sin and in His presence I’ve found fullness of joy!
Thank You For Your Love
This love I know-because you taught me.
My spirit sings-with joy in Your embrace.
I gladly bow my soul to You in worship,
Your merciful compassion and Your grace.
Your merciful compassion and Your grace.
I thank You for my new heart,
With the hardness gone
I can feel Your Spirits touch.
I thank You for my new song,
May Your Name be known so the world can sing along.
Mark 5:19 says “Go to the people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you.”
So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, Ephesians 5: 26.