God Will Restore The Years
I have had a difficult time writing my testimony. I have written many pages and torn them up. I seem to get lost in the story and confusion of my life and lose the point.
Therefore, I’ve decided to start with the point. The point of my life is the knowledge that it is Jesus Christ living my life. When I am living from this point, my life works. My mind is clear and I walk freely as a child of God. When I forget this and walk as though I have only myself to rely on, my life stops working. It really is as simple as this. This is the secret of life for me. (The flip side of this coin is that if it is not Christ living my life, then it is Satan.)
I thank God that He came to earth as His Son and gave His life for me and that I am washed clean and forgiven of my past sins. I also thank Him that He chose to join His Holy Spirit with my earthly one and that we walk together as one Spirit, (1 Cor. 6:17). I am no longer left crying in the wilderness.
In some sense, I hate adding anything to this, since this is the principle (really, a person) that runs my life. However, I have really only begun to walk this way in the last few years. I am now 45 years old and it has taken God most of this time to bring me to the place I am at now. So I will share my "before" times with you. I think of these as my "lost years", since this was how I felt most of the time. This was the time when Satan ran my life.
I was the second of six children and the oldest girl. At the end of my
third grade, my father became a Methodist minister, much to our surprise. We were thrust into this new life which had no reality for us and we had to quickly learn our new roles. Therefore, most of my growing up years, like most people’s, were spent learning to survive. I assumed the role of "minister’s daughter." I also was responsible for watching my young sisters and cleaning the house, since my mother worked. (Ministers, back then, did not make much money.) School work didn’t come easily and I constantly struggled with it. My older brother was very scientific and labeled the "brain" in our family. I felt very dumb in comparison. I learned very early that I wasn’t acceptable as myself. Consequently, I became a "people pleaser." If I couldn’t do this, I simply shut down. I thought I was just "shy." I also learned not to cause trouble. This trouble could simply be asking for any of my basic needs to be met or expressing my feelings. I ended up repressing my feelings and learning to put up a good front. At the end of my teenage years, my father had a relationship with a woman in our church. He left the ministry and my parents separated for a few years. I was stunned and angry and left with no answers to life. I felt as though someone had played a mean trick on me.
My solution to this was to get married. At 19 years old I married a boy I had been "madly in love with." It had been "love at first sight." I called him "my prince charming" and he was coming to rescue me. (Sick!) I was a real romantic and believed in all the fairy tale endings I had learned in childhood. It wasn’t long before reality hit but I wouldn’t admit my unhappiness for many years. I kept hoping things would change or get better. I moved to his hometown where I had no friends. My husband was Catholic, so I went to the Catholic church. He was Italian, so I learned to cook Italian. I didn’t work because he didn’t want his wife to work. I was pregnant within 2 months and had 3 children by the time I was 23 years old. (I now have 5 children.) He was out at his favorite bar most of the weekend and a workaholic during the week so I basically was left to raise the kids alone. Again, I assumed the roles and dared not rock the boat. My only help during these first years was Joe’s mother. She was a big support to me and always there for me and the kids. My belief in God also kept me going. My favorite Scripture was Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."
After about six years of marriage, my husband’s best friend’s wife became a Jehovahs’ Witness. She introduced me to some of her friends and I started to study the Scriptures and they became my hope. However I didn’t believe in everything the Jehovahs’ Witnesses did and couldn’t become a member. They dropped me. I did learn something very disturbing about myself at this time. I found I wasn’t convinced of the Holy Trinity and I wasn’t sure my sins were forgiven. I prayed to God for answers. I was led to the book of John which I read over and over. Needless to say, God opened up to me the mystery of the Holy Trinity. I also learned that God came to earth in the form of His Son and died on the cross in order for my sins to be forgiven. I learned it was only by faith I could know I was forgiven. Many times before I had asked God into my life but felt it had never "taken." I realized it was because I had asked for the wrong reasons. I had known I was lacking and needed something to fill me up. However, I had not known I was a sinner in need of a Savior. I needed "someone," a person, to come in and fill that hole. This is when I asked Jesus Christ into my life.
After this, we went to a born again church where I was baptized by immersion. This was an important step for me. I now had an answer. When I was tempted to believe an old lie about myself I would answer Satan back by saying "I no longer belong to you. You have no say over me. I now belong to God." Colossians 3:3 says, "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
During the next years, God revealed many things to me. Our assistant pastor had come into contact with Norman Grubb and God was revealing many things to him. There was such an eagerness and excitement in him when he shared with us. I found my spirit responding to what he said. I too felt excited. I was especially glad to hear that because I contained the Spirit of God, I also possessed His qualities. Our assistant pastor would go through the Bible and make lists of God’s qualities as stated in the Bible. He said we could now say the same of ourselves. First John 4:17 says, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement, because as He is, so also are we in this world." I learned that in Christ I had been made complete, Colossians 2:10. Second Timothy 1:7 was especially important to me, "For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." Therefore, I knew it was a lie that I was shy as I once believed.
My growth and awareness of the truth has been gradual. I was tempted to believe something was wrong because of this. Some Scriptures in Philippians helped me to be patient. Phil. 1:6, says "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Also in Phil. 4:13, "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Finally, Phil. 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." He was the One who brought awareness and understanding. It was also His strength that enabled me to do whatever I was doing. I could rest and trust Him to do whatever He wanted to do in my life.
Meanwhile, there was a split in the church because of what we believed. The assistant pastor left and many of us left too. At first we met in various homes and later, rented space from another church. Norman Grubb came to our house a few times to speak to our group. I must say, I was in complete awe of him. I had never met such a humble, faithful, accepting and thankful person whose whole life was given over to serve others. To me, he was truly a holy man of God and I will miss his earthly presence. (I have an opinion that heaven had a joyful celebration as he recently joined the saints.)
I also started attending some outof-state conferences. Similarly, many people would come to our area and share what they believed with us. On an outer soul level, I found many of the people very different than me and I had trouble relating to them. In fact, I would find myself withdrawing and had a hard time being with them. I couldn’t understand what the problem was since we confessed to believe the same thing. I found myself, however, being drawn to one person especially while at the same time being scared to death of that person. I realized the problem was mine and not the fault of this other person, who had something I didn’t have. This person knew how to live the life of faith. In other words, the person walked in a freedom I didn’t have.
For a number of years after this, my circumstances were very difficult. This hard time is what pressed me to use what faith and beliefs I had and to find answers to what I didn’t know. For no reason I could find, my husband, who I was very dependent on, went into withdrawal. He pretty much shut down, physically and mentally. He managed to go to work but that was about all he managed. He turned to another female in our group for support for awhile. This devastated me! I felt betrayed, angry and deserted. I had been living my life through him and knew nothing about myself. What I did know I didn’t especially like. During this time, my brother (whom I had been very close to) died suddenly. A few weeks later, my four year old daughter broke her leg and was hospitalized and in traction for a month. After this, she was in a body cast for another month. My three older kids were teenagers at this time and were being increasingly rebellious. (I’m sure what was happening around them wasn’t making them feel too secure.) I also had an eight year old who needed her parents. I felt like I was quickly losing it with each new blow. But I also knew someone had to stay sane to take care of the kids. It was Page Prewitt’s teaching that helped me through this period. I started confessing that because of who lived in me, I could cope. I remember Page saying that all I needed to do was the "next thing" even if that meant only putting one foot in front of the other. I would start the day saying "Christ-I" can do the dishes, etc. For a long time, I did this all day, every day, with each thing, by faith. I did all this in the midst of extreme pain. In fact, during those days, I felt pain twentyfour hours a day. But God managed to do whatever needed doing by me.
I realized that I had been living life through other people and did not know how not to be tied in to them. I would get my identity mixed up with others and not be able to tell where they left off and I began. Consequently, I joined a Codependent 12 Step group in our area. I found that the principles of the 12 Step groups were very similar to what I believed and that they worked in my life. I knew I was powerless (Step 1). I also knew there was a power greater than myself and only He could bring me to sanity (Step 2). It was only by turning my will over to Him that sanity would come (Step 3). I still apply these spiritual laws in my life and they work for me. When the crazies return, I usually find that I am seeing myself independently from God and again need to turn my will over to Him. Only then is He free to operate my life.
Something else that helped me greatly was learning to tell the difference between body, soul and spirit. I learned that the feelings were part of the soul. But before this could even make sense to me, I needed to get in touch with my feelings. Up to this point I thought I was a very calm, relaxed and "nice" person. Much to my surprise, I learned I was just numb. I simply didn’t feel much of anything. I had always thought this was God’s peace and what I was to attain to. It was real scary for me when I started to allow my feeling to happen. It felt like something was terribly wrong and panic would start to rise. I would tell myself that it was OK to feel whatever I was feeling. They were neutral and didn’t have to control me because I am a spirit person and walk in the Spirit. For example, when I felt fearful or inadequate I could say that it was OK to feel afraid or inadequate but because of Christ’s life, I knew I was not a fearful person and that God handled any situation that arose.
I also identified with the "victim" role and the "poor me" role. One day I was reading about learned helplessness and realized that was how I was. I felt like things in life came at me and that I was at their mercy with no say or control. I saw no hope and no way out and definitely felt sorry for myself (and wanted everyone else to feel sorry for me). What I did do was worry. Somehow I thought that if I worried enough, things would get better. Needless to say, when someone accused me of being a whiner, I was shocked! I hated it when my kids whined at me. But I realized it was true. My life was a big whine. I hated this about myself. I started to see I was not a victim. When I was told that God had meant for all those things to happen to me that year, I hated it. That meant that God, the only hope I had, was the boogie man. WRONG! He meant it all for my good. I can look back and see this now but at the time it was only by faith that I could accept this. My believing was at a crisis point. But to me, at the time, it was my life that was at stake. I had accepted everything by faith and my life was starting to work. I knew it was not "me" that was making it work but God. I had a major choice. This was to continue believing God lived my life, or to reject Him because I didn’t like how He was doing it and do it "myself" (which would really be Satan). Needless to say, I chose God. The point here is a principle that helped me out. I stopped being the victim. I constantly have a choice. It’s not a choice to do this or to do that. It’s a choice to believe and trust God to live my life despite what I’m feeling or what’s going on around me.
Since this time I have worked as a Teachers Assistant in a Special Education Department and gotten my Associate Degree in Humanities. In May, I finished my degree in Nursing and passed my New York State boards. I now have a job in a Rehabilitation Program as a nurse/teacher’s assistant for developmentally disabled children, working with six and seven year olds. This has worked out wonderfully for me since I am home for my two younger children when they are home. This whole experience has been a faith walk.
I had another turning point last May, the night before my graduation. My fourteen year old daughter was in an accident. The driver of the jeep that she was riding in swerved to avoid hitting an animal and the jeep flipped over. Allison and her three friends were thrown out. Allison landed on her head. One of the doctors met me in the emergency room. He said he couldn’t promise me anything. If she made it through she might have brain damage or be paralyzed. When I went in to see her, she was lying in a pool of blood with her head all wrapped in bandages. She had regained consciousness and I will never forget looking into her little brown eyes. I felt that if she were to die, I would not be able to take it. I felt on the edge of hysteria. She was the most precious thing in the world to me and God couldn’t take her away. I knew that right then and there I had a choice.
The choice was to believe that this was God’s perfect circumstance or that I was just a victim of some terrible accident. I looked her in the eyes and said, "Allison, this is God’s deal. It’s in His hands." (Knowing she could die!). She said, "I know, that’s what I’m counting on." What a blessing! This experience turned into a wonderful faith walk for our whole family, moment by moment. Most of her injuries have healed but more importantly, I have seen a big spiritual change in her. She is open to us and comes to us with questions and for insight. We discuss our faith together and she is eager to hear more. She also tells me when she thinks something is off in my life. To me, this is the biggest miracle!
I have had some very painfully hard times when it has come to raising my three older children. I have learned to set boundaries and say what is or isn’t acceptable in God’s house. My two older girls have chosen to leave home. My son, Steve, still lives with us. I don’t want to settle for anything but God’s best for my family. I know from past experience that it doesn’t help them by giving in.
My husband has come a long way and we now walk this faith life together. Our relationship is much different than before. It is no longer that sickly, needy relationship that it once was. I thank God for all the pain and the circumstances that were needed for this to come about.
As they say, "life goes on." I know there will be more pain, more good times and more difficult circumstances. I also know that God is perfectly able to do whatever He intends to do by me. I like to greet each day wondering what He will be doing today. Each day is a new experience in living God’s life. So, God has brought me a long way. I thank Him for revealing His truth to me and I thank Him for working it out in me. I know that "I" can do nothing in and by myself. He is my "all in all." He has come so that we can have life and have it more abundantly. I can say with Paul, "For me, to live is Christ."
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 10 No 3
- To All Believers…It’s As Simple As This
- Easter Conference 1994
- Editor’s Note
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Intercession: Part 8 of the Teacher/Trainer Outline
- A Body Has Thou Prepared Me
- To Think About…
- Questions & Answers
- God Will Restore The Years