I Thought the Guilt Could Never Be Totally Erased
For over twenty years, I lived in denial. I claimed to be a Christian for most of my life, but my desire to do good would never last long. I would be stirred to obey the Bible, but after a time the zeal would go away. I would be back to doing the things which brought me great shame and heartache. My name is Becky Simmons, and this is my story.
Let me give you a little background of my life. I grew up in a home where alcohol and chaos were major factors. Although our family was not faithful in attending church, my mother saw to it that I attended a Christian school. The teachings I learned at church and school conflicted greatly with what I saw at home. This made growing up very difficult and led to much confusion for me.
When I was sixteen, my family moved closer to an old childhood friend of mine. This friend had no limitations placed on her, and so she did as she pleased. I enjoyed being with her for this reason. I was led to the wrong friends, and these friends introduced me to many new sins. I was almost kicked out of school because of my behavior. But I did manage to graduate in 1994.
After graduation my rebellion bloomed. One year later, I moved in with a friend of mine. From that point on I did as I pleased. No one could tell me what to do. I started smoking when I was seventeen, enjoyed drinking, and lived an immoral life.
“At times I would feel shame and guilt. I wanted to be a better person, but I just could not stick with it.”
In 1996 I moved in with a married man. Six years later, I was pregnant. I knew I wanted my life to be a better example for my child. So I stopped smoking and drinking in an attempt to give my baby a better start at life. I also tried to clean up my language and behavior. I thought the best way to do this was to read the Bible and say a little prayer every day.
My daughter was born in May of 2002. I knew then I would eventually have to take her to church. I could not condemn my daughter to hell because of my selfishness. She would have to make her own choice someday. My desire was to allow a good church to instill morals into her, a job I did not feel I was qualified to do.
I kept up my futile efforts to be a decent person. When my daughter was six months old, she had separation anxiety. I decided it was time to take her to church. I could also use some social time, even if I had to listen to some sermons.
But a strange thing happened. I began to enjoy going to church on Sunday morning. Women were invited to attend a women’s Bible study which I signed up for. Then I became convicted to attend Sunday evenings. Even though I truly enjoyed church, I felt I couldn’t let anyone know my true self. These decent church people were so good compared to me. One winter night in 2003, the pastor preached a sermon about King Herod. He was so full of lust for a woman that he made a promise to her which he later regretted, but could not back out on (Mark 6:14-29). As I was driving home after church, I thought about the sermon and my own life. All this time I had been trying to be a decent person, but I would always end up continuing to do those sins which I did not want to do. I was so convicted of my sin that I could not drive home.
“I pulled over to the side of the road and prayed to the Lord, ‘Whatever you will have me to do, I will do it.'”
As I continued to attend church and read my Bible, God began to convict me of my need to change my lifestyle. And so in April of 2003, I left my boyfriend and moved in with my parents. I thought since I was obeying God everything would be easy. But it was not. My father and I do not get along very well due to my bitterness towards him. I could not find a job for four months. Nothing seemed to be going right.
Soon after I moved, a lady invited me to do a Bible study. I jumped at the chance to learn and grow in the Word of God. Our first study was on a Tuesday, and by Thursday I was so plagued with doubt about my claim to be saved that I called my new friend, Cindy. She confessed that she was praying that I would have doubts so that I might examine my salvation against the Bible.
“So from that point on we prayed every day that the Lord might make it clear to me whether I was a saved person going to heaven or a lost person going to hell.”
By the fourth study, I was 99% convinced that I was lost. One of the things which really stood out to me in the fourth study was a need for faith and repentance. The Bible says in Luke 13:5, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” and Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
Of course, I had always believed in God and Jesus Christ. I trusted the whole Bible. But was there ever a time when I had repented of my sin? (Repentance is a sorrow over sin, and a willingness to turn from that sin and turn to God, putting Him in charge of your life.) Cindy instructed me to sit down and review my life. This is what I did, and I came to the realization that there never was a time of repentance. It was then that I fully realized I was headed for hell. So on July 16, 2003, I looked at the Ten Commandments that God uses to judge all lost people. I knew that I had broken all of them. I prayed to the Lord and asked for forgiveness for all the sins I had ever committed. I gave my life to Him to rule, and He is now my King. It was at that moment of surrender and commitment that Christ saved me.
I physically felt no different at this point. But in a short time, I began to see evidences proving I was a child of God. Sundays are truly now my favorite day of the week. A strong desire burns in me to read God’s Word. No matter how badly I have messed up and sinned, when I confess my sin, and then go to God’s Word for direction, I feel so much better. And the Bible is so much easier to understand.