Soooo…Today is my birthday. Yep. It’s kind of funny how just adding one to my age makes it sound a whole lot older. Because of course seventeen is so much more mature than sixteen. [Note: that was completely sarcastic.] ANYWAYS! I thought that for my birthday I’d share a little bit about what I’ve learned over the past several years.
I grew up in a Christian home (as most of you most likely already knew), but I didn’t really know what I was doing. When I was baptized at about 11 years old (in a hotel swimming pool, no less), I did so because I was afraid I was getting too old to be baptized. It was, however, at about that age that I began to consider that my ‘faith’ was missing something. I was terrified that if I died, I would not end up in the place I thought I would, and because I was too afraid to ask anyone else for help, I set about to try and figure this faith thing out myself.
I did the only things I knew to do, the things they always say you’re supposed to do – read your Bible, pray. I tried and tried, but nothing seemed to work. No matter how hard I strained my brain, no matter how many verses I copied into my notebook, I couldn’t understand what I was reading. And all my attempts to follow prayer lists and such failed just as miserably. I got bored with them, and soon abandoned them, feeling more than ever like a horrible Christian. Sometimes I doubted that I was a Christian. Weren’t Christians able to trust, whether or not they felt God’s presence? And wasn’t I the one who regularly begged God to show Himself to me so that I could know He loved me?
Well, things kept on like that for a few years. By the time 2011 rolled around not much had changed, and I couldn’t look back and say that I had grown spiritually in any significant way. Well, three things happened that year that began to change things. My great grandmother went home to be with the Lord in January or February (don’t ask me which…I don’t remember these things well), as did our dear neighbor and friend the following November. And smack in between the two, we had a lovely drought, a thing I couldn’t remember ever happening before. I found myself becoming bitter towards the clouds that thundered enticingly but gave no rain, and also at God, who had not answered my pleas that He give us rain. As the year dragged on, in my young heart I despaired of ever being really happy. It was a very dry year, not only for the ground, but for me as well. And yet I continued to refuse to seek help, because I was afraid of admitting I was anything but the funny, hyper little girl people took me for.
And then came 2012. In spite of the continuing drought, my spirits revived, because the trees panicked and produced massive amounts of fruit to make up for the lack thereof the year before. Somehow that gave me the hope that this year would not be so bad. Then some friends from church started a summer Bible study. I attended with my sisters with the vague hope that it would show me what I was missing. At the same time I was afraid, because it meant I would have to open up to the other girls; a thing I hadn’t yet dared to do.
I can’t believe that was only a year and a half ago! The Bible study stretched me and my relationships in ways I had never imagined. We prayed for each other’s struggles, shared our own, told stories, laughed, and learned so much. For the first time I actually felt close to God, to my friends and…my sisters too. Thanks to the discussions in the Bible study, we dared to talk about things on the way home that we (or at least I) would never have shared beforehand.
And that is where I found myself the morning after our last Bible study meeting…the morning Noelle had her wreck. Suddenly we were launched into a whole new world, one with hospitals and rehab centers, and brain injuries. I felt a fear I had never felt before – that I might lose a family member – and then watched miracles happen right before my eyes. And suddenly, God answered the prayer that I had sobbed out so many years ago, “Please, I need You to show me that You’re here!” I could almost feel Him wrap His arms around me and carry me when I wanted to do nothing more than hide and cry. He gave me the Peace that Passes Understanding, and helped me to let go of what I wanted to happen and accept His will as best. He taught me to trust Him on a whole new level. And then He kept that trust.
I’ve never been the same since. In the (just over a) year since Noelle came home, God has continued to teach and show me new things, many of which I’ve already written about on here. One thing He is constantly reminding me of is how good He is, and how much He loves me, and how He will never let me down. He will never forget what I’m going through. He will always provide what I need to get through the tough times. He will always love me. It’s been an incredible journey, and there is so much more I could say, but to keep from becoming overly wordy, I’ll stop there. *Smiles* So yeah. That’s my life in a very abbreviated summary. God is so good! How has He blessed you?