A Christmas Letter
Dear Family and Friends,
So much has happened over the past year that I wanted to share with you. I have so much to be thankful for! Last year I came down to be with family (my daughter,Vicki and grandson, Bret) and friends hoping to recover my sanity–literally! I was deep in depression, despair, and unbelief and could not find my way out of it. I hated my life, my job, and myself. Over the course of about two years, I was deteriorating mentally. My behavior became bizarre; I lost my short-term memory, and I became unable to communicate effectively. I fully expected at any time to be fired, knew I could not learn a new job successfully and expected to end up on the streets. I thought about drinking or taking sleeping pills, but I knew that would only speed up the end and further hurt my family.
The most frightening thing was that I no longer believed I deserved anything from God or people. I knew I was so self-focused that I was unbearable to be around. I was ashamed to call myself a Christian because I knew there was nothing in my life that demonstrated His love or power. Since I didn’t deserve any-thing, I thought I was lost. The friends that hung in there with me, along with Vicki and my son, Jimmy, kept telling me that was a lie. But I wouldn’t believe it. Finally they got through to me that I thought I was bigger than God and beyond His salvation. Two things they said that stuck were: "Your God is too small" and "Gail, there’s no grace in your world."
In the midst of oppressive depression and negativity, I started to let go of my own insane thinking and hold on to these facts: 1) God was bigger than I was; 2) because I had at one time received Christ as my Savior, He honored His promise to save me and join His Holy Spirit to my spirit forever; 3) although I was not faithful to Him, He was faithful to me because that’s His unchanging nature; and 4) His grace (unmerited favor and mercy) was totally outside my senses but was constantly being poured out to me in Christ.
But the breakthrough came when my "world" came crashing down. The week before Thanksgiving, 1995, I was gently but firmly told that my behavior at work was unsatisfactory and that I had to get professional psychological help to keep my job. That’s when I gave up. I gave up hope, and I gave up believing my own thoughts, reasoning and feelings. I knew I could not help myself.
Powerless, I began to take direction from those I trusted, trusting that God was in control of everything that came to me, and He had my ultimate good at he. I had to trust Him in spite of my fears and doubts, or I would go back to hopeless despair. I was relieved to begin crying for the first time in months as I acknowledged my totally selfish thinking and poured out my shame. All the while I felt that if I didn’t somehow control the situation, I couldn’t trust that there was anything or anyone that could help me. All I could do was trust the God of the Bible to lead me. I was totally blind.
One step at a time, God led me–both through people I knew and trusted and through complete strangers. I sought medical treatment and began seeing a counselor. I began to realize how God’s love is poured out on everyone, totally undeserved, and that God really was "able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him [Christ]" (Hebrews 7:25). I began to trust in Him, not me, and His grace, rather than Satan’s accusations or my own perceptions and reasoning.
A week after I started counseling and stopped working, I was invited to come here to our `°Total Living Center." I was a "crashed" Christian: my hands shook, all I could do was stare, and I could not call up the words in my brain to carry on a simple conversation. But I felt truly thankful to God for EVERY-THING in my life. Thankful for small tasks I could do to help others, thankful that I was welcomed in spite of my inability to function and thankful that people were honest with me about any unacceptable behavior. Most of all, thankful that God poured out his grace on me (as He does on everyone) and never let me go. Amazing Grace became my song.
By experiencing my inability to live right or save myself from my addictive self-focus, I was finally experiencing what it meant to be saved. And to be saved by faith–not in myself or my puny reasoning, but by faith in Jesus Christ the author and finisher of my faith.
I’ve been here over a year now. My counselor (who is not part of my fellowship) said she wished more of her clients had the opportunity to live with the type of people with whom I was living–people who are so honest and supportive. She said I have made tremendous progress since I started, and she rightfully credits the fellowship I live among. She may or may not know that it’s actually Jesus Christ living out through His body that she is crediting.
Now I am working full-time, have changed careers, and am kept busy learning how to truly live by faith. I am always around people who demonstrate how to live, and who hold me account-able for believing God. I am also held accountable for the fruit of right believing, and I am beginning to see His responsible, sane life being lived out in my form. While I do feel more vulnerable, less self-assured (thank God!) and more uncomfortable than I can remember, that’s to be expected after believing Satan’s lies for so long and consequently bearing the bitter fruit of his totally self-absorbed life.
Well, that is what’s been going on this year. There’s lots more to tell–about how God has been working in the lives of my family. But I’ll let them tell their own stories.
Wishing you a new awareness of God’s grace in Christ this Christmas and all year.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 13 No 1
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- God’s Stormtroopers
- A Look at a Book
- A Christmas Letter
- Safety in the Crossfire!
- Food for Body, Soul & Spirit at the NY Conference
- To Think About…
- Questions & Answers
- The Mailbox
- The Contract
- The Self Can’t Be Improved
- Tape Talk
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- The Way of Release
- God’s Standards Have Not Changed: British Fall Conference
- Words to Live By
- One Lesson