Friends! I am so excited that it is finally Tuesday! Last Friday or so, I shared with you all about how we are starting a new series on Life Stories. Each Tuesday I will be sharing the life story or TESTIMONY of an individual who has touched my life and I know it will touch yours. I am blown away by reading their stories about God’s redemption and perfect plan. For those of you who are leery or unsure about God, please take the time to follow this series. There is so much more to life than fighting through it on your own. For those of you who are Christ followers, I am praying that God will use each testimony to change your heart and mind and draw you closer to God.
Today’s story will blow you away. Read it for yourself.
“Going to church was a regular part of my childhood. Every Sunday, we were the first family to arrive; we unlocked the doors, set up the chairs, put out the hymnals, and greeted everyone who arrived after us with a hug. We were also the last family to leave after putting everything away. It was natural to me; a habit. Something we did as a family. But that’s all it was. Something I grew up doing.
The older I got, the less church mattered to me. When I was in college I didn’t go at all. And that was when I needed it the most. I was so busy trying to be the girl my friends expected me to be that I never found out who I really was. I drank, partied, and even experimented with pot a couple of times. I’m very thankful that didn’t become an addiction– but alcohol was an addiction. My life was an endless cycle of school during the week and parties on the weekend. But this was not a satisfying way to live. I battled depression and thoughts of suicide. I never felt good enough. I never believed that I measured up or had any real value. My friendships were superficial and the guys I dated didn’t want to get to know the real me, and so I suffered in silence. I never told anyone about the anxiety attacks, the depression, or about the night that I almost took my own life.
During the darkest night of my life I sat huddled in a corner of my bathroom with a knife held to my wrist. I was locked in a battle that I could neither see nor hear. Whether I sat there for minutes or hours I do not know. What I do know is that someone, somewhere, was on their knees that night. When I awoke the next morning I wondered why there was a kitchen knife in my bathroom sink. Slowly the memory of the previous night came back to me. And still my life didn’t change.
Several years later I began seeking something different. I didn’t know what I was seeking– I just knew that I wanted something different. It was during the summer of 1999 when I was working one of my first professional acting jobs. I found myself not wanting to go out with the rest of the cast after rehearsals and performances. I spent a lot of time by myself that summer. When I returned home at the end of the summer I found myself visiting a new church (only because mom and dad were visiting there). For the first time in my life I really listened to the sermons; and it seemed that the pastor knew all about me. His sermons spoke specifics about my life; my emptiness; my hurts; my mistakes. After about a month of visiting the church the wall around my heart came crashing down as I whispered the words “Yes, Lord.” I didn’t even know what I was saying “yes” to. My heart and soul wanted the peace and joy my pastor was talking about. I don’t know if I really believed it then or not, but I sure do now. In an instant the Holy Spirit came flooding into my life and washed away the dirt and the grime.
I had no desire to drink after that day. The profanity that I used to use on a regular basis would no longer form on my tongue. My friends were no longer the people I wanted to hang out with (and their off-color jokes weren’t appealing any more). God quickly replaced them with mature, godly friends who helped me grow in the Lord. Most notably was the addition of a mentor after I’d been saved for a few years. Mrs. Amy became a very important part of my life and it’s because of her that I began to mentor young ladies.
I’ve been saved for 14 years now and God has blessed me immensely. I’ve never regretted the decision to give my life to Christ Jesus. I’ve seen Him work in my life and change me into the woman of God He desires me to be (and He’s not done yet, by the way). I know now that I do have value. I am a daughter of the King. My purpose is to glorify Him. The depression is gone. I’ve only had one anxiety attack since I’ve been saved and because I turned to Christ in prayer it was gone just as quickly as it came on.
Following Christ hasn’t been easy. It’s difficult. It’s very difficult. Don’t be deceived into thinking that becoming a Christian will suddenly make all your problems go away. To this day, I still deal with consequences from decisions I made before I met Christ. Satan tries to steal my joy on a regular basis. He reminds me of my past and tries to make me feel worthless and useless. Sometimes, he is successful. But God always reminds me of His love for me. I am worthy because I belong to Christ. I am useful because I serve Jesus. I am of great value because the King of the universe gave Himself for me. My story is simple: I am a sinner who has been saved by grace. It is my prayer that all who read this share the same story: Sinner saved by grace.”
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.” Eph. 2:8 HCSB
Below are some verses that God uses to lift me up when I am feeling down. I pray these bless you as they have blessed me.
Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? Isaiah 43:18-19a NASB
The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 HCSB
God has used this one woman’s life to change and enrich so many others. I believe this because my life has been one of those changed by her life and willingness to encourage and serve others. Cheryl’s commitment and faithfulness to the Lord is breathtaking. She mentored me while I was single and searching. She taught me, not only with words but with actions, how important it is to put your relationship with Christ far above any other relationship. Her joyous smile captivates people and draws them right into the very face of Christ. I hope and pray that her life story will always be one that you can look to and SEE and BELIEVE how deep and wide and long and far the love Christ has for you truly is.