John 14: 25-27 (The Message Translation)
25-27 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
Before I truly began an authentic faith walk with God I walked away from him. I grew up in the church and was always surrounded by God. I knew the bible songs, the classic bible stories, and I knew how to act like a Christian. The key word was act. While growing up I would hear stories about people experiencing God and would wonder is that real and how come I haven’t felt that? I went to church but couldn’t tell you a moment where I experienced him or recognized any moment in life where I could point to it and say: “Yep, that was God.” I wanted to believe but I was filled with doubt. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that when I entered seventh grade and was ruthlessly bullied by students and teachers that I walked away. I blamed God for what happened and my thoughts were that if that was the kind of God he was I wanted no part of it.
During the time I was away from God I felt hopeless. I became suicidal and saw a person in the mirror that I didn’t think deserved to draw breath. You see I believed what the bullies at school said and truly believed I was a waste of a human being. Sure I had dealt with bullies before, but this was the first time that my teachers took part and because of their participation I didn’t trust anyone enough to report what was going on. I was in great emotional agony. I was in pieces and felt like I was stuck in the dark with no way out. It created scars that last to this day. It’s the reason why that I make no room in my life for people who enjoy gossiping behind someone’s back. Such actions have devastating consequences and I won’t take part in destroying another living, breathing, human soul.
When I entered the eighth grade I began to have seizures. Although I had managed to make friends my heart was still healing and my strength was on low. I was diagnosed with epilepsy that year and it was more than I could bear. I felt hollowed out. I felt alone. I felt incomplete and I knew instinctively I couldn’t do this by myself. I also knew that the love of my parents and brother wasn’t going to be enough this time. I needed the kind of support and love that they couldn’t give me because they didn’t understand what I was going through and no amount of talking was going to change that. So I searched. I searched for a way to fill that emptiness and brokenness for a long time.
It wasn’t until we began to attend Crossroads Community Church up in Michigan that I began to find what I had been longing for all my life. By this time I had gotten good at faking the church thing, but when we attended this church I found it different. Gone were the organ and hymns and in its place was a keyboard, guitars, drums, vocalists, and songs that I heard on the Christian radio station. This wasn’t the God I had believed existed.
I began to listen to the sermons on Sundays as they caught my attention and intrigued me. They told me about a loving God who was always there for you even when you couldn’t feel it. A God that didn’t spare people the hard things in life but suffered with his children so they wouldn’t be alone. A God that forgave no matter how many times you screwed up and fell short of his expectations. A God full of second chances. It was one Sunday Night at youth group that I for the first time felt God. It was the first time I authentically gave my heart to him finally understanding what it meant.
My life didn’t become easier. In fact, many more hardships followed me after I gave my heart. What changed was something inside me. I didn’t feel hopeless anymore. I could see the value in life again. While depression was still a struggle it never again reached the point where I wanted to die. Every time I found myself weak God would help me through it. I stopped worrying so much and was able to relax during times that would stress anyone out. I was calm as my newborn son stayed in the NICU and I went home without him. I was calm while my husband fought cancer and won. Though I was heartbroken I was calm when I miscarried my fourth child. God gave me an inner strength that granted me peace and joy in the darkest of times. He gave me a new way of seeing the world that made my heart bigger and my life so much better in indescribable ways.
Once we allow God in he doesn’t take away the hard things in life. He instead gives you everything you need to walk through the fire with a smile on your face, leaving all those watching wondering how you do it. The truth is you don’t do it. God does if you are humble enough to let him in and build you up.
Lord, I realize that I can’t do this alone anymore. I need you. I want you in my heart. I want your second chances. I want you to walk with me. I want to lean on you when I need your strength. Walk this life with me and never leave me alone. Amen.
Song of Mediation:
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