I Found Unconditional Love and Acceptance
I was born in Allentown, PA, the second of five children. One of my earliest memories is one of me holding my little sister’s hand in the nursery at church and staying with her there because I was too afraid to go to my class. I was so shy that my younger sister, who was only eighteen months old, was a comfort to me. Because of some adverse home situations as well as some very cruel, incessant teasing from kids at school, I continued to be extremely shy and withdrawn. As the years of adversity went on, my shyness intensified. I felt confused, like no one would understand. Why did I seem so different from others? I grew up fearing that I would never be accepted.
When I was about 7 years old, a family moved in a neighborhood; we had neighbors who invited our family to go to church with them. My parents usually took us to church only on holidays and special occasions. Although my family didn’t want to go with them, my parents allowed me to attend church as often as I liked. I was interested to go with them because they were a nice family, different from ours. The parents said the word “love” to each other and to their children. They also showed affection by kissing and hugging each other. These were things that didn’t happen at my house. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them because of the atmosphere of love and acceptance that was there. And they were very kind to me. The man was the preacher at the church that they took me to, and they became my second family.
“I was not afraid there; I spent a lot of time with them.”
Shortly after I started going to church with them, they led me to pray a prayer to ask God to save me. (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 told me that everyone is a sinner, and in order to go to heaven, Jesus had to come live in my heart. As a 7 year old child, I had no real understanding of my sinfulness before God, and therefore, I had no genuine repentance of that sin. I didn’t understand that I had to be willing to live for Jesus as well. I was just looking for that unconditional love and acceptance that I so strongly desired. After a few years, the nice family next door moved away, and I didn’t go to church anywhere for several years.
During my teenage years, I spent weekends or summers with any family who needed a babysitter for their children. When I was 18 years old, I moved out of my parents’ house and became a live-in nanny for different families at different times. One day, I met the Gable Family, and they invited me to their church, Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. Everyone was really nice there, so I decided to get baptized and join the church. While I was living with the Gables, they helped me to become totally debt-free, and I was able to finally move out and have a place of my own. But because I wasn’t really saved, whenever I was sad or depressed, I would go shopping. It made me feel good to go shopping and spend money. Before very long, I was right back into debt. I now know this was an indication that I was not saved because when a person is saved, they will find joy in God, not in material things of this world.
“Another evidence that I wasn’t saved was that I was a liar.”
I told lies to keep everyone at bay and to keep myself from being hurt. One of my favorite quotes is from a song, and it says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you’re willing to pay.” That was certainly the case in my life. Because I found myself deep in debt again, and I could no longer afford to live on my own, another church family, the Hammetts, took me in. As time went by, I found myself in trouble with this family as a result of a lie that I told them. However, it was good to be caught in this lie because this was the event that caused me to truly face my sin and seek God for the first time in my life. Luke 12:2, “There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” My lying was a sin that ate at me, that testified of my lost condition. John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
This situation with the Hammetts wasn’t a new one for me. I had told a similar lie to a family I was living with before and had gotten caught in it. But I had been involved with good Christians all my life, and I knew the “lingo” and how to “get right.” At that time, I told them I was sorry, had pretended to make things right with God, and moved on. But nothing had really changed in my life. However, when the Hammetts confronted me about my deceit, this time it was different. This time I was concerned about my spiritual condition and my inability to stop sinning. John 8:34, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” I asked for books to read, so I could learn more about salvation. I really studied and sought God for weeks. I was heartbroken over my sin, and I wanted freedom from it.
In my studying, I was humbled by the truth that God loves me even though I sinned against someone else. I learned that God loves me even though I caused others harm. I learned that if you search for God with your whole heart, you will find Him. I learned that God offers His free gift of salvation to all, but you have to be willing to put your sin aside, turn from it, and look to Him. Finally, I understood what it truly meant to be saved! It was at this time, in September, 2002, that I truly repented of my sin and asked the Lord to save me and to change me. And He did!
All my life, I had poured my life into other people’s children because babies and young children offered unconditional love and acceptance; that was something for which I had been searching my whole life. Now I had found that in God. Praise God!
“There has been such a change in my life since I have received God’s free gift of salvation.”
I’m interested in God, and I want to read my Bible and learn more about Him. I’m no longer a liar, nor am I interested in deceiving others to protect myself. Where I used to be extremely shy, God has changed me so that I can talk to someone I don’t know. To me, this is a strong evidence of God working in my life. Before, I would not shake hands with anyone at church if I didn’t know them, and I definitely would never start a conversation with someone I didn’t know. But this was a necessary change because God calls all Christians to be witnesses for Him.
People think once you’re saved, your life will be so easy. But that’s not true. In October of 2003, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was 35 years old with no husband and no children of my own. I had been saved for only 1 year. I’ve been fighting this cancer for almost two years now, and it has been a long, hard road. However, God has taught me to lean on Him. He doesn’t forsake me. When I think I can’t go any further, He picks me up and carries me. II Corinthians 12:8-9, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God has purposes that I don’t begin to know or understand in allowing me to go through this, but I trust Him. Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I am confident that God won’t give me more than I can handle with His help, and I am thankful for His faithfulness and lovingkindness toward me.