“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” Psalm 71:5
The excitement of freshly sharpened pencils and a new backpack during the fall of first grade did not last long when my parents told my brother and I that they were getting a divorce. First grade was a rough year.
My mother created a very loving and stable home my brother and I with my grandparent’s help, which I am beyond words thankful for. But it did not cure the sadness in my heart for not having a mom and dad at home to eat dinner with each night, play with on the weekends, or go on trips. Watching my mom sacrifice for my brother and I to receive an excellent education caused anger and resentment towards my dad.
In eighth grade, I encountered Jesus in a whole new way, understanding that He loved me and wanted to be a part of every area of my life. God was not far and distance, but He became someone whom I could count on and filled my heart with joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. What I learned is that prayer works. Not to say that God answered all my prayers. He brought such love into my heart that I had new capacity to reach out to all sorts of people, to forgive, and be patient and faithful to pray and trust God to lead and guide my life-choices.
Even when one of my parents would be angry for hours or days, refusing not to talk to me, I chose to not let the way they were treating me steal my joy. I was honest and shared what I thought to be truth, so I had peace about it. Having peace did not mean that I was not sad, I certainly was but the Lord’s love for me was such an anchor in my life that it gave me strength to battle anger and the ability to choose forgiveness. I felt compassion and prayed for my parent because I knew that he did not know the voice of the Holy Spirit in his life like I did. Without the wisdom and counsel of the Holy Spirit, normal patterns of behavior routinely repeated themselves. What I learned at young age was not to expect non-Christians to act like Christians.
Since eighth grade, I have regularly prayed for my dad and our relationship. I would not accept anger as a norm in our relationship. I wanted more and believed with God’s help there was a better way. I could fill pages and pages of specific ways that God has brought healing and helped us develop a good relationship.
I wish that I was there right now to look into your eyes to tell you that there is a better way and do not settle for the lie that your loved one, your friend, or you are too messed up for God to love and to change your life. I should have been one of those statistics of a girl from a broken home who looked for love in all the wrong places, but with God’s help I chose as a young teen and continue to choose a better way of living because I know the one who is the WAY to a life of freedom, love, and beauty. I have had my share of setbacks, but because God’s voice has become my True North through all the time spent learning about Him in the Bible with small groups, my family & friends, in church, alone, and then through the stories of other people’s lives I am able to see just a little light or hear His voice even when it can be so faint due to the noise of the world or the darkness of sin in my own heart.
Expect the hard times for without them you will not get where you are going.
Life is a journey, so train hard for no athlete developed strength without adding weight. The pressure will make you stronger.
Do not forgot sprints in your training because in a moment’s notice all the hard spiritual work will be the fuel that you need to respond quickly to a situation.
Keep praying. God brought my mom a great husband and stepfather to my brother and I, and I have a good relationship with my dad.
Live to conquer your struggles with the Lord’s help and you will win the abundant life found only in Jesus. Jesus wins the war the end, so why don’t you join the winning team. Healing is hard, so you have to really want it. How much do you really want to win in the important things in life?
P. S. My five year-old nephew came upstairs to find out what I was doing while I was finishing this post for Sacred Story Ministries this month on writing about a theme in my life story. He said that he wanted to help me write. This is what he wrote: “God Loves Rainer. God forgives Joe, Gaga, Mommy, Daddy, Simon, Genevieve, Rainer, and Mary Carmen.” What God wants you to know is that He loves and forgives you.