Monday, October 02, 2006

My testimony

My family didn't go to church on a regular basis when I was growing up. My dad was raised in a Russian Orthodox church in Pennsylvania, and I'm not really sure what kind of religion or faith my mom had. I believe that she believed though, if that makes sense. It was just understood in my house that God was real, and that's just the way it was. I guess I've always just known that I've needed God, I was just not sure how that all worked for a long time. I used God and Faith as a crutch to get me through difficult times on and off, I was never really around anybody who lived out their faith. Everybody I knew went to church on Sundays and then did whatever they wanted the rest of the week. I didn't know what a life of faith looked like. I started going to church on a regular basis when my oldest daughter was a baby, but I was young, and had no support. I got married when my daughter was 3. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway because I convinced myself that love was something you decided to feel. I could decide to love this man, because my daughter needed a dad and we both needed something more stable than I was able to provide. Yes, I do see how messed up that thinking was! But remember I came from a home without a mother and with a father who didn't show any interest in me at all. About 2 years later, I met someone who lived out her faith. We became friends, and I started going to church with her. It felt like the thing I was looking for. I spent a bunch of years praying for my husband, who was Jewish, but the thing was, I didn't love him. My friend eventually moved away, and I stopped going to church because I had to work. My husband and I tried to make it work for almost 10 years, but when things fell apart, they fell apart in a big way. I was so hurt and away from church, away from God, I did some things in that time period that I really regret. I hated myself for those things, and I was pretty sure God hated me too. The marriage fell apart, I was single again, and again I didn't really believe I had what it takes to take care of myself and my kids alone. Pretty soon I met someone. He seemed to be everything I thought I wanted. He was a Christian, he was smart, funny, handsome, had definite leadership qualities. We became friends and then it progressed to being more than friends. When he asked me to marry him, I said yes immediately. For 5 years we went to church every Sunday at the same church, and things seemed really good. It wasn't perfect at all - we lacked discipline and didn't pray as much as we should, or read the Bible as much as we should, but I though it was good. I believed this marriage was a God thing. I believed God rescued me from the life I had and gave me a Godly husband. But I didn't know that this "godly husband" was hiding some major things. Without going in to all of the very specific details and how I should have known he was a controlling, manipulating narcissist, I'll just say I didn't see it at all. I didn't see things in me either. I didn't see that I just wanted so badly to be rescued because I had zero self worth and still hated myself for all the mistakes I'd made, that I mistook making another poor choice for God rescuing me. So when the FBI knocked on my door on March 1st 2004 and told me that my husband had been sexually abusing my daughter, I argued with them for 30 minutes telling them he had to have been framed, because he was a good church going man and would never do such a thing! My world fell apart right then and there. They took us to ChildHelp to interview each of the kids and while we were gone they came and arrested my husband. I had no idea how we were going to make it through the next 24 hours, let alone have any kind of a life at all ever again. I was devastated. I realized pretty quickly that there was only one real choice - I had to depend on God like I had been professing I did. There was a period there were everyday I listened to the song Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman (lyrics here) over and over to remind myself that I had to choose to praise God, even when things just sucked really bad. As I trusted Him, miracles began to happen, and the knowledge of how He has ALWAYS had us in His hands became clear. After God gave me my job, after I got back on my feet, God began healing some of those other parts of my life that contributed to the bad decisions I've made. He let me know in no uncertain terms that He does in fact love ME.

Shortly before my husband's arrest, I read a book by Bruce Wilkenson called First Hand Faith. He started off talking about the Israelits, how when God brought them out of Egypt, those people saw what God did first hand. They knew God and believed him because they saw Him work with their own eyes. They told their kids what they saw, and their kids told their kids, but after a while it wasn't first hand. They didn't see it, they only heard about what God did, so their faith was not as strong. Makes sense. And now that I've seen God work first hand, I know I can never go back to living without Him or only using my faith as a crutch. I know it was God Himself who reached down and rescued us, and I will tell anybody who will listen - God is alive, He is good, and He loves YOU!

7 comments:

Heather Smith said...

I'm so glad that God has worked in your life in such a strong way! Thanks for sharing!

Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

Thanks for sharing!
I posted mine today.

Erna said...

God is so good. He reaches down in our pain and draws us into fellowship with Him. God bless you today! May He continue to meet all of us at our point of need.

Jammy said...

Praise the Lord, Connie! It's amazing the things it takes to get us to go to Him. It makes me so grateful that He didn't give up on us!!

I see that you are into photography, too.

Jenn

GiBee said...

What an amazing testimony! Praise God that he loves us so much, and that he is faithful to us ... Thanks for sharing your testimony!

Lauren said...

Thanks for sharing. God is so amazing, so awesome. He forgives and all He asks of us is that we trust and live for Him. He is so good. Thanks for participating.

justin said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony. I was wondering if you'd like to post it on my new site called ShareMyTestimony.org?

I created the site to let Christians share their testimonies, and read other testimonies to see how God is working in the lives of others.

If you'd like to contact me, you can click on the contact link on my site.

Thanks,
Justin