I was baptized in a Lutheran church when I was younger, and my family went to church on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter. Later in my teen years I attended youth group there. I was never a really bad kid growing up, but things were not always happy at home. When things were bad, I would have evil thoughts about my Dad who was a heavy drinker. “During these times, I would question whether there was a God and wonder why He was letting these things happen to me.” During these times, I would question whether there was a God and wonder why He was letting these things happen to me.
As I grew a little older, I began to feel lonely and empty inside and I thought having a man in my life would fix that empty feeling. When I was 17 I started dating and soon got married. I remember thinking that this was good because I could move out of my parent’s house. For the first three years, things were going okay, but after our first son was born, we started having problems and my husband seemed to drift away.
Meanwhile, my parents started going to Lehigh Valley Baptist Church and they both were saved. (Note: salvation, saved and born again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.) They started asking me to come with them to church. As things became worse in my marriage I tried to convince my husband to go to church with me, but he refused. I started a Bible study but never finished it due to the stress over my marriage. I felt like I might have to give up my husband if I chose to follow the Lord, and I was not ready for that. So as things got worse at home, I started to skip going to church and focus on my husband. Things came to a head, though, when our second son was born, and soon after that he asked for a divorce. “I was devastated and lost my faith in God because He had not answered my prayers to fix my marriage.” I was devastated and lost my faith in God because He had not answered my prayers to fix my marriage.
I had to move back home and my Dad tried to get me to go to church—which I really did not want to do. This caused me to rebel by going out a lot and drinking, and not really caring about what I did. I would swear up and down that I would never get married again and that I was going to use men the way I was used. That was how I coped with the pain of my divorce. I didn’t realize at the time what I really needed to do was listen to my Dad and go to church so I could hear what the Lord was trying to tell me.
After one year of being single and deep in my sin, making mistake after mistake, I began to feel lonely and empty inside. Once again, I thought having a man would fill that emptiness, but of course, I was wrong. The next man in my life spent over $5,000 of my money and totaled my SUV. Soon after that I was in a head-on car accident myself. God was trying to get my attention, but I wouldn’t listen.
In 2006 I met another man, Johnny, at a bar. After playing pool with him and getting to know him, I wanted my parents to meet him. My dad suggested I bring him to church, which I did. To my surprise he liked what he heard and kept coming back. Soon he trusted Christ as his personal Savior and was saved. Within a short time we were married—but soon the loneliness and emptiness returned. This time I realized that no man could fill the void in my heart—I needed God. I began to read my Bible more and try to understand it. When one of the ladies at church offered to do a Bible study with me, I jumped at the chance.
After doing a few of the lessons, everything started to click and make sense. “All this time, when I doubted God, He was always there, watching me, waiting for me, and trying to draw me near.” All this time, when I doubted God, He was always there, watching me, waiting for me, and trying to draw me near. All I had to do was ask to be forgiven, and take the free gift of salvation that Christ was offering to me. But in my heart, I knew that I had feelings of bitterness and hatred toward the people who had done me wrong, and I could not even think of forgiving them. I knew there were times when I felt like God had abandoned me. I was continually asking myself why God had put me through these things when I had done nothing wrong. In reality, however, I was doing everything wrong. I had even asked myself, “Is there really a God?” When I tried to listen and read my Bible more, I wondered how Christ could give His life for someone like me when I had sinned against Him so many times. I felt like I did not deserve to be forgiven.
One day I realized that before I could be saved, I had to be willing to turn from my sin, my bitterness, and my hatred, and be willing to forgive those who had wronged me. On July 16, 2006, I came to church feeling very convicted and sorry for the things I had done. In fact, I felt like my sin weighed a ton and I could hardly breathe. While we sang “Love Lifted Me,” the Holy Spirit began to draw me. When we sang the part that said, “He your Savior wants to be, be saved today,” it was as if Jesus was speaking to me, asking, “What are you waiting for? I want to save you, and all you have to do is ask Me into your heart.”
At that moment, I realized that I was waiting for nothing, and I could not wait anymore. I knew what I had to do. When the invitation came, I took my husband’s hand and asked him to go with me. The pastor’s wife met me and took me aside to counsel me from the Bible and show me how to be saved. That day I believed in Jesus Christ the Lord with all my heart. I prayed, confessed my sin, and asked Jesus Christ to save me. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians chapter 2, verse 8).
The burden of my sin that I had carried for so many years was now gone because I was forgiven. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (First John chapter 1, verse 9) I now understand so many things that I didn’t before. It’s like I was blind and now I can see! Praise the Lord! Since I have been saved I have already seen some changes with the way I think about things. I leave it to the Lord to do His will in my life and I trust in Him that He will provide. There is such a peace in knowing that.
The Lord has helped me with feelings of anger, bitterness, and hatred by giving me the strength to see past those feelings, and realize that it is the devil’s trickery at work. The Lord has also put a lot of forgiveness in my heart and made me realize that I am not the Judge, He is. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians chapter 4, verse 31-32) I know that God hears my prayers and He will answer them in His own time and in His own way. I thank Him for that every day. I now want to live for the Lord and be obedient and do His will and keep on learning.