The weight of the world was on my shoulders. I felt like I might collapse under it, under the void of all that I had done wrong. I called my mother into my bedroom and told her that I needed Jesus to forgive me. I knew that she would know how because she and my father had always taught me about Him, enough that I knew I couldn’t live a second more of my life without Him. We prayed at the end of my bed, and I was transformed. The weight was gone, and I was free. I wanted to tell everyone…and I did tell everyone, at least everyone who would listen to a six-year-old.
I grew in Christ, and my parents never shied away from answering my questions. I had big questions, even as a child. I can remember doing the adult studies with my mom, and I still have the Bible that she gave to me after painstakingly going through and adding the notes from her Bible to every single page of mine. I wanted nothing more than to follow Jesus with every fiber of my being…until the teenage years hit.
I guess many of us have similar stories. Stories that involve us thinking that we have our heads screwed on straight only to realize that we were on the verge of being lost completely to darkness. Many things happened through those years, things that lead to doubting my self-worth, struggling with depression, and turning to anything and everything that could drown out the pain…anything except Jesus.
I graduated at 16 and went straight to college with complete freedom to do anything that I wanted. And I did. It scares me to think of how far I was away from the Lord. I used to tell people that I was the worst kind of hypocrite. I was so torn apart inside, yet I turned to darkness instead of Light…until I woke up one morning…and it was enough. I literally felt like God screamed from Heaven…”ENOUGH!” He impressed this upon my spirit to the point that I was afraid. I remember telling my husband that I was done with the lifestyle that we had been living. He laughed and thought that I was just hungover. Within a few weeks, God drew me back to Himself with such force that I was overwhelmed with His amazing love. I started attending church and felt very burdened for my husband. I cried out to the Lord for several years before I saw His answer.
I was face-down in the carpet in my living room floor. I had taken my daughter to my mom’s and told my husband to leave. This was the third “almost” divorce in just a couple of years. I was done. I was so incredibly full of hurt on many levels. I remember looking up from the carpet and crying out to God, and then He answered…and I knew that I had to stay with my husband. I also knew that I couldn’t. I remember saying to God, “If You want me to stay with this man, then YOU have to do it. I can’t! You have to be who I’ve told people that You are and You have to do this for me. My strength is gone!”
And there it was. Full surrender. The thing that I struggle with most. I want to be clear: God does NOT take orders from us, but He does become our strength when we fully surrender to Him. What I didn’t know was that, at the same time I was praying this prayer, my very lost husband was walking into Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, AR. He, too, was weary of walking alone, and he cried out to God to save him.
The next day, my husband begged me to meet him so that he could tell me something. We met at our favorite restaurant, and the moment he walked in…I knew. I knew that God had changed him without him ever saying a word. There was this peace in my heart that only the Holy Spirit can bring. I would love to tell you that God restored our marriage, but the truth is that He gave us a new one– the covenant marriage that He describes in the Bible, one that can only be shared between believers.
I can’t begin to tell you how God has changed our lives since that time. My husband is now a seminary student and a missions director for our church. We love Jesus with all of our hearts, and got to see Jesus save our little girl last year. In Him, we have found eternal love and purpose. We don’t yet know where God will lead us on this journey, but we know one thing for sure: we are no longer asleep and will follow Him with eyes wide open.