My childhood home didn’t necessarily overflow with warm fuzzies.There were many fun times with my father, but my mother suffered from undiagnosed mental illness that caused all of us to walk on eggshells. I knew my parents loved me in their own way, but there were not a lot of hugs in my home. As I got older it was difficult to live by their harsh rules. I was also called heart-crushing names which were not true. That old saying, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names will never hurt you!” is a lie. Those names hurt me deep down in my soul and it is still painful to recall them.
Feeling as if I had no real value I spent as much time as possible immersing myself in activities in school and outside of school. These outlets gave me the feelings of worth that I craved. I thought that if I excelled in all I did, then I wouldn’t disappoint my parents. I felt that way about God too. If I could be the best person I could be then I would please Him and hopefully go to heaven when I died. I thought about God a lot and lived in doubt and fear most of the time, causing me to strive harder to obtain perfection. I couldn’t help thinking that there just had to be more to life.
Little did I realize that God was already reaching out to me as a scared and emotionally wounded young woman. At age eighteen, after graduation from high school, I met a man through my job who became a bright light and a way out of my confusing home life. Soon afterward we married. I am so grateful for God’s hand on our lives as I’m not sure I’d be here at all if it weren’t for the gift of my husband.
Things turned around for me, and I can honestly say life was tons of fun, but something remained missing. I loved God and went to church on Sunday, taking our two beautiful daughters with me. When I walked out of church I hoped God was pleased with me. Yet most of the time I felt an emptiness. I had so many questions but I didn’t know who to turn to for answers.
When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten she made friends with one little girl. The two had constant play dates that forced me to have contact with “the mom.” She was nice as could be, but made me very uncomfortable with her “Jesus” talk. Little by little the uncomfortable feelings were replaced with trust. I slowly began asking some of my unanswered questions. Very gently she would reveal truth to me by opening her Bible and showing me the answers I longed to understand.
A year and a half later after many talks with my friend – whether sitting in her living room, on the porch, or in the kitchen – my eyes and heart opened to the most wonderful truths I had ever heard.
Jesus is God in the flesh.
Jesus loves me the way I am and doesn’t need me to be good enough to earn His love.
Jesus willingly died on a cross to take the punishment I deserve for all my sins.
Jesus’ death provides the only way to live in eternity with Him.
Jesus calls me friend, sister and co-heir with Him.
Jesus is preparing a place for me in heaven and one day will come to take me there with Him.
Jesus helped me see what unconditional love truly is.
Jesus is all I need!
After I came to know Christ, I told my husband about a men’s breakfast at the new church the girls and I attended. With the appeal of a meal he went and met some of the husbands of my new friends. Even though my husband didn’t join us on Sunday mornings, he felt drawn to go to a concert at the church where he heard a message that caused him to give his heart to Jesus. We began attending church as a family and remain amazed at how Jesus has changed our lives.
I am no longer identified by the hurtful names I was called. I have a new identity in Christ and see myself as God sees me. I am a daughter of the King of kings! It may sound silly but I often imagine myself climbing onto my Abba Father’s lap as He sits on His throne. I cuddle and bask in His love. It’s in His Presence, and His Presence alone, that I receive all the warm fuzzies I’ll ever need.
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