The way my Christian walk has gone over the years, I am blessed to look back and see growth! Real spiritual growth. I like to joke that my spiritual growth is like an onion……you know, layers! I grew up in a home where we went to church every week. We were baptized and completed our first communion and confirmation. I truly believed in God and that Jesus died on the cross. I didn’t think too much about God or how he played any role in my life.
I was around the tender age of 22 when God ( Oh yes, looking back, I can see God blatantly moving people in and out of my life) moved my supervisor into the role of evangelist. That’s right; she went from telling me what tables to clean to sharing Jesus. I can still see us sitting there talking and praying for my salvation in my mind’s eye.
Despite having Jesus in my heart, I didn’t really have him in my life. I didn’t know the bible, and I didn’t understand what a beautiful relationship was waiting for me to dive into. As a result, I basically went on living my life as nothing had changed.
I can’t help but look back at that time with sadness for time lost with Jesus. At the same time, I am extremely grateful for his persistent pursuit of me.
Jesus was just beginning with me.
Thankfully, Jesus had plans and never lost track of me. Life moved on; the next time I gave any thought, real, meaningful thought to Jesus, many things had changed. I had finished school, gotten married, and moved halfway across the country. My husband got a great job he was excited about, and we met new people that we quickly became best friends with. (Looking back, I can see this is the time that my life started to change.)
Remember, I had been saved years ago but had not spent any time developing my relationship with Jesus. I didn’t even know I was supposed to do that. As we got settled in our new home, I spent a lot of time (I’ll call them Doug and Susie) with Susie while the guys were at work. She was very eager to share with me her beliefs and asked me outright if I was saved? You don’t want to miss this part, the long-ago moment of me accepting Jesus as my savior came rushing to my memory. I looked at her and could say I was, and truthfully, I was saved, but I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.
The decision to change.
As I watched Doug and Susie in their relationship with Jesus and each other, I knew that I wanted what they had. I am not saying their relationship was perfect, for we all know that does not exist. That being said, I was encouraged to seek more of a relationship with Jesus and wanted my husband to want the same. You must be wondering, where did my husband fall in with this change of heart of mine?
You see, I started to think differently. I started to care about things that never hit my radar before. For example, I wanted to start attending church, but not the church I (or my husband) grew up in. No, I wanted to change to a more Bible-based, Jesus teaching church. I can almost hear you thinking, how did that go over with the husband? Like a freight train hitting the town in the dead of night, not very welcome.
For the next few years, all I did was learn from my friends and attend their church, if I was able. Because I could not convince my husband to start going regularly, I would make excuses as often as possible to get us there. Sometimes it worked. Many times it did not. I still don’t know why I did not insist we go or go myself. I laugh now; I was an in-the-closet Christian. Unfortunately, it was not from the world but my husband. So, what’s a girl to do, you ask? I continued praying like never before. That was the first step I took in getting to know Jesus.
Stepping full stride into my faith
Fast forward with me a few years. Our friends, Doug and Susie, had taken a new job and moved to North Carolina. It was not too long after that Doug approached my husband regarding a similar opportunity. It did not take much for us to decide it would be a great career move, so he took it. With much excitement, we sold our house and moved to North Carolina as well.
Life was great. We built a beautiful new home and met our new neighbors. Now, this is important; meeting our new neighbors was 100% God moving in my life. I had continued praying and growing in Jesus as much as I could without having a home church. Our relationship with Doug and Susie started to drift, but not for any particular reason I could see. Now I do know why. God was preparing me for the next step in my journey.
Let me introduce to you two of the most influential people in my walk with Christ, Joe and Mary (at least, that’s what we will call them:)). They were our neighbors to our new home and we instantly connected with them. They also belonged to a church they were very involved with and invited us to attend. I absolutely fell in love with it. The atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for. We worshiped with amazing music and teachings that came right from the bible.
Changes that bring blessings
As things do, time brought about some changes, mostly pregnancy. When I became pregnant, I honestly thought I would return to work; as a matter of fact, we planned on it. Then our son was born. I think you will agree with me when I say everything changed when we held him. You guessed it, we changed our mind, and in the blink of an eye, I became a stay-at-home mom. Best life ever!
It was also when God ramped up His pursuit of me. I was able to attend bible studies during the day at Joe and Mary’s church. It was here that my desire to learn more blossomed. I went from one study to the next, not caring who or what it was on. I wanted to learn it all. Let’s say I was a little greedy with my time with Jesus.
As I grew in my relationship with Jesus, my transformation exploded. Don’t ever doubt as your love for Christ grows that you will stay the same. It is simply impossible. My entire world changed. I became diligent in teaching my son about God, determined he would have what I didn’t have growing up. My heart wanted a relationship with my husband I did not have, and I prayed for the Lord to ‘change’ him.
There was nothing I said or prayed that would soften his heart. There was no way he would humble himself to God, ask for the forgiveness of his sin, and put Jesus first. He was tight with control and needed to have it. I continued to pray earnestly as well as diving deeper into the Word.
When blessings are mixed with incredible loss
We were thrilled to find we were pregnant again. I was convinced I wanted all boys about God (totally knowing what was best for me) to bless us with our daughter. For me, life was at its fullest, unfortunately, not so much for my husband. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I certainly knew there was a problem. It was strictly by chance I discovered he was having an affair. Actually, let me be honest, I didn’t discover it; I was the last to know and had to be told by someone I barely knew, my own husband. That was truly the worst day of my life, but at the same time, it made such sense.
I felt so broken, empty, and at a loss of what to do. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. I had Jesus. I know that may sound like a cliche, but it is as true as the sky is blue. I became laser-focused on putting the needs of my children first. They would never see an ugly argument, never hear us scream terrible things at each other. I was determined to spare them as much pain as possible and needed the love and guidance that only Jesus could give.
Over those years, it was Jesus who used the bible studies to surround me with some of the fiercest prayer warriors I know. I know my strength came from God and those amazing friends holding me up. Don’t get me wrong, I was lost for a time, but God never left my side.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;he will never let the righteous be shaken.Psalm 55:22
Blessings ALWAYS multiply
Slowly as God put my ‘new normal’ back together, he continued to work in me and around me. Finally, I was able to come out of hiding, no more in the closet Christian. Can I hear an Amen?! I cleaved to him in some of the most painful moments of my life, trusting in all that I had learned of him. That I could depend on him, rely on his promises, and faithfully step into this new life.
"God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won't be afraid." Isaiah 12:2
As time passed, I knew there were a few things I would never go back to. The most important was knowing the grace of God changed me, and I wanted the world to see it. I wanted a husband that showered me with love, but most of all, I wanted a husband that loved Jesus too! My faith was going to be what people saw in me as soon as we met. At least, that is my working goal. To always have a love of Jesus shine through me so others can see Him and all His glory.
I have continued to grow in my faith and am ecstatic to share my life is at its fullest. The Lord has blessed me in marriage with a wonderful man that, along with all our children (yes, he also has 2, ) were baptized at our church. The day is engrained in my head as another blessing passed on by our loving Father.
Follow the path
I am following a dream of writing for Jesus with my blog, trusting He will take it where He wants it. I don’t know his plan for it, or me, really. I do know; I plan on being obedient to his will for my life. Looking back over the years, I can see so many other instances where God was clearly stepping up on my behalf. It is my turn to step up and follow the path I know was created by God’s hand, strictly for me.