I Will Restore the Years
I am the eldest of nine children and was born and brought up in the country, in the west of Ireland. Between the ages of three and five, I lived in London with my aunt and her family while I had operations on my eyes. My earliest memories are of that time when I felt very lonely and afraid. My aunt was a very strict disciplinarian and I remember being locked in the coal bunker and under the stairs when I misbehaved. In my growing up years my father drank a lot and was frequently drunk. I didn’t know it then but have since come to realize that he is an alcoholic. Up until about age seven I remember being fairly happy-go-lucky, giddy, talkative, etc., but somewhere after that I began to be very introverted, quiet and shy. As a teenager, I remember feeling very angry and rebellious. Some of my self-pity and resentments were settling in then too.
I did well at school and got a scholarship to university. A year later I met my former boyfriend and we were together for six years. I thought I was having a wonderful time at college, as for the first time in my life I was independent of my parents and thought "I" was in control. I had a boyfriend to take me out who had plenty of money, so obviously I stuck with him. He was providing what I thought I needed and also at last I had someone to care for me, who I was "special" to.
When I left university I didn’t pursue my career but went to work in my boyfriend’s business. The relationship was not good by this time, but I think we were both too afraid to end it. He had asked me to marry him a year after we met, but I didn’t want to get married and settle down then. We had a sexual relationship which I knew was wrong according to the rules of the Catholic Church, to which I then belonged.
My father’s drinking was causing greater problems and unhappiness for the whole family. I hated him for what he was doing to my mother. I didn’t realize then what the alcoholism was doing to me.
A New Beginning
In August, 1979 a friend I had been with at college shared the gospel with me and I grasped it with open arms. I knew I was a sinner because I hated my father and because of the sexual relationship I was involved in. The verse which spoke to me then was John 10:10 where Jesus says He came to give us abundant life. I knew I did not have abundant life and I wanted it desperately. My life changed a lot very quickly. I began to read the Bible and realized that Jesus was a real living Person. I got involved in a Bible study group with some Christians where I lived and started to tell everyone what I believed. I hoped my boyfriend would believe too and we could get married, but he wasn’t very interested. He had started his own business and was more interested in making money than becoming a Christian. We grew further apart and began to see less of each other. Fourteen months after I became a Christian he told me he had met someone else and broke off the relationship. I was devastated, as I couldn’t imagine a life with-out him. I cried for a whole day, almost non-stop. I couldn’t sleep the following night and sat up in bed reading my Bible. The Lord spoke to me through a verse in Psalm 25 which says, "All the paths of the Lord are loving and faithful to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." Over the next few weeks I clung on to this verse for dear life. It was my first experience of discerning soul and spirit. I said "OK, God I don’t feel this is true and your highest and best for me but because you say so, I’ll believe"
I was now free to get more involved in the Christian fellowship I was in. Over the next five years I was in two house fellowship groups. I learned a lot in those days about God and how He works, but there was something missing. I believed "I" had to do everything, with God’s help of course, and after the initial changes in my life, "I" wasn’t changing much or getting better at being a Christian. The problems in my family continued, though my father was drinking less. That situation was part of what kept me pressing on to find God’s total answer. By now we had all grown up but were not the close happy family I had hoped for. The whole focus of my childhood was on my father and his drinking. As a result, we did not get to know each other or communicate at any real level. I was beginning to feel very isolated and lonely. I had done the witnessing, reading my Bible, praying, fasting, etc. and by 1986 it felt like my life was no different from that of many people around me who were not Christians. I knew I was different in my spirit, but in my day-to-day life I was pretty much the same as everyone else, except I didn’t get drunk anymore and I wasn’t in a sinful sexual relationship. I used to read Ephesians, chapter 1 and feel very frustrated as I could not reconcile it to my daily experience.
I was in a job where my boss was very abusive and I reacted a lot to him. At that point I did not take any responsibility for how I was to him. He reminded me of my father and I could feel the old anger and hate rising up in me. This really scared me as I had thought that in becoming a Christian God had dealt with all that. Again, my desperation as a Christian led me to my first British Zerubbabel conference in 1987. I heard the truth of who I am in Christ being taught for the first time. Gal. 2:20 was being explained–that the old "I" who was joined to Satan no longer lives and the "I" who now lives is me joined to Christ at my spirit centre. I began to learn that "I" did not have to improve or become someone better, but my function is to contain Someone who is Life, Light, Power and Love in me. That Someone is Jesus Christ. I learned that it is OK to feel anger, hate, etc., as feelings are in my soul, but my real me is where I am joined to Christ at my spirit and from there I am operated and controlled.
I began to tell my Christian friends this latest good news and got a good response from a couple of them. However, when these friends began to see the cost involved in living from this truth, they didn’t want to know any-more. As I had no fellowship in Ireland with people who believed this truth and because I was in a boring job, I moved to London in 1990. When I was around people who believe that they are Christ in their form, I saw where I was not believing this truth about myself in many areas of my life. I was in denial about how painful my life really was. With the help of my Christian family in the fellowship giving me a view of myself, which I did not like, my denial began to be broken. All my Christian life I wanted to be the person God wanted me to be and I hated not being that. I saw how angry I was with God because my life had not turned out the way "I" had planned. I thought by now "I" should be married, have a successful career and be financially secure. I was very ungrateful for the many blessings in my life–good health, a loving spiritual family, a job, a place to live, and a relationship with God.
The Turning Point
The turning point for me came when I saw that feeling sorry for myself, being shut down emotionally, being quiet, shy, ungrateful is sin and disobedience to God. When I believe that I am Jesus Christ in my form, there is no "just me" to feel sorry for. He is not shy, quiet, resentful, ungrateful, etc. I saw that somewhere I made a choice to not believe who I was and Satan then lived out shy, quiet, resentful, etc. My only choice is to believe the truth about myself or believe the lie. When I believe the truth about myself that gets Christ into operation and then all my other choices are He choosing. When I do not believe the truth of who I am in Christ that gives Satan a hook into my members and he operates me from the out-side.
It became apparent to me recently that there is still some unbelief, self-forself in my life and attitudes which need to be rooted out. The view I got from some friends was that I had an invisible barrier up between me and them. I was not being honest about my feelings and twisted what was being said to me so that I could blame others for putting me down, criticizing me, etc. To help me see this unbelief more clearly and then be able to have God root it out, I am working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. A motto of theirs is willingness, honesty, and openess. It is my desire to be those things in my life and particularly in my relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that as a Christ person, I am whole, complete and lack nothing. I know that I am able to go through the pain involved to live totally free as the Christ person I am because it is not "just me" going through the pain, but He going through whatever it takes, as me.
I am grateful to God for bringing me this far and revealing Himself in me. I am grateful to all my family in Christ for sticking with me along the way.
Since writing the above, I have now completed Step 4 of the 12 Steps, which is "made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." I have seen many areas where the self-for-self life I have lived out has been damaging to others. One such area has been in my relationship to my parents and my attitude to them. I’ve seen myself as superior, have been ashamed of them and been cold and distant to them. I have made no effort to get to know them and build a relationship with them. I have not seen them as potential Christ vessels, currently misused by Satan. Though my childhood was not happy, I can no longer blame my parents for that or for the way I am today. My sin against them is far greater than theirs against me. Theirs was committed in ignorance; much of mine occured since I’ve been a Christian.
I have seen how my self-for-self behaviour has affected my other relation-ships too, particularly my Christ family. I have expected other people to be there for me, support me, etc., but I have not done the same for them. When people have not been how I want them to be, I have withdrawn from them, put my barriers up and been very abusive and hurtful to them. The people I love the most and want to be around most are the people whom I have harmed the most. This is very painful to see. I know the "I" doing the harm is Satan/I, but I now see more fully my responsibility in choosing to not believe who I am and allowing Satan control of my members to misuse me and harm others through me.
I have also seen where my sexual behavior has damaged other people. Some of my lust being friendly" with men has been flirting, serious when the men involved are married. By God’s grace I haven’t been involved in adultery but need God’s forgiveness for the sin I have committed against the families involved. I cannot personally make amends to the people concerned; I’m totally dependent on God to do that. I have seen my total powerlessness.
When I believe right about myself, it is Christ living as me by His power. When I believe Satan’s lie about me, I am powerless over how he misuses me. Having seen my sin and its consequences in black and white, I cannot go back and say it wasn’t so. That feels scary but is also very freeing. I have come out in the open with myself and God and now I can deal with what is there, by confessing it, malting amends where I can and then depending totally on God for the future without the same sin patterns repeated.
I am truly grateful to God for this opportunity to "humble myself before the mighty hand of God," for His forgiveness and for His grace which is sufficient for me for the future.