21 February 2013

My Story (a bit long but worth the read)

I’ve been going to a Bible study at church the past few weeks called “Becoming a Contagious Christian”. A little back-story on this…

Since my vacation in January, I have been learning a lot about myself. When it was announced that this was a new Bible study I jumped at the chance to attend. Last week we were on the section in which we tell our story. Our story of becoming a Christian. I will share my first draft (as I am sure I will develop it more through the next few weeks) with you:

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I grew up knowing nothing more than church on Sundays. I was christened Roman Catholic as a baby. I was taught about God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice not just in church and Sunday school, but by family members. My parents didn’t really make me go to church as a child. As a matter of fact, I have been told that one particular Sunday morning my mom couldn’t find me anywhere in the apartment. My dad told her to look out the window. That’s when they saw me being walked home by a couple of nuns. Apparently I got myself up and dressed and went to church on my own.

Sundays were probably my favorite day of the week growing up. I went to church and Sunday school in the morning. Then, I went to youth group in the evening. At the time, I went to a Baptist church. On the weekends when my brother and I would stay with the relatives, we would attend church or mass, depending on the family member. I remember getting yelled at by one of my cousins after mass one Sunday because I went for communion. Since I wasn’t raised Catholic, I didn’t know the rules. I just followed everyone, stood in line waiting for the priest to give me the smashed sunflower wafer and juice, then sat back down. Her parents didn’t seem to mind that I had done that. I think they hoped I would join the church. Yeah, not happening!

As a teen, I continued to grow in my faith. Since I had accepted Jesus at a young age, it was relatively easy to stick with reading the Bible and learning what I could. In high school, I went to live with my dad. That didn’t deter me in my spiritual walk however I wasn’t going to church regularly anymore. I would attend whenever I went to visit my mom, usually going with a friend or visiting my old church or with one of my aunt’s and uncle’s (not the Catholics). Eventually, I went back to live with my mom.

By the time I was 19, I was married and living in San Diego. I did not attend church there. My husband was probably more of an agnostic than anything else. I still looked to my Bible from time to time, but I had all but turned my back on my faith. During the first couple of years I began to dabble in other crafts/spiritual beliefs. The one thing that I know for certain is that I never stopped believing in Jesus during these years. By 1993, I was looking for a way out of the marriage and that’s when another man entered my life. We had an affair that lasted for almost 5 years (on and off). It was wrong. It was a sin. We both knew this. We were both very much in love with one another and just couldn’t stay apart for long. During the course of our relationship, and even to this day, we would have deep conversations about God, Jesus, the Bible, and anything else religious or spiritual-based. The foundation of our friendship was the affair, but we built a stronger friendship based on God. I was no longer intimate with my husband and still looking to escape.

In 1995, I walked away from my marriage after having a miscarriage. The child was not his. I gave my child to God asking him to allow me to have a healthy child if it was His will or take it from me painlessly. I knew I was wrong in having the affair. After leaving my husband, I moved in with some friends and began dating another man. We wound up married in 1997, briefly. During our relationship and marriage, we focused on making Christ the center of our home. We went to church together. I went to women’s group and became involved in learning all I could about God. I thought I found my forever husband, but that was not meant to be. We divorced in 1998 after he molested a child.

When I found out about the molestation, I was the one to turn him in. I had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. This mental break almost cost me my life. I was suicidal. I became bitter and angry. The pastor and his wife came to visit me a couple times in the hospital and brought me some music; Cherri Keaggy. Listening to this artist helped me through some of my darkest days. I continued to grow in my faith in spite of this major set back in my life. I continued to go to church on Sundays. All the while, I was losing faith and trust in men. Three years later, I moved back to Michigan.

I still struggle with my faith. I am learning to accept things that happened in my life as things I had no control over. I understand that God has a purpose for my life, yet I find myself anxious to know what that is exactly. I still have the very first “grown up” Bible that I ever received at the age of 10-ish. I have studied the Bible not just as a piece of theology and God’s word, but as an historical document as well. I know that Jesus is my saviour and knowing this allows me to continue walking in faith. I am learning to forgive not just those who harmed me, but myself as well. That’s probably the biggest challenge I am facing today in my walk with God.

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13 February 2013

One Wish

If I could have one wish granted

one wish out of one thousand,PA220291

It would be to share a sunrise

with you

 

And if this wish were granted

this one wish with you,

I would want to be in your arms

as the sun rises

 

If while in your arms

we are watching the sunrise

you dare to give me a kiss,

I'll let you

 

You see, my one wish

is to be in your arms on a beach

watching the sunrise

with you

~ Julie Hayes, 2013