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Welcome to Day 1 of the 30 Days of Gratitude!
I am grateful for my relationship with Jesus..
As a child I was raised Catholic. Sometimes I remember the rhetoric when I go to a Catholic funeral. At about seventeen I started exploring other churches with different friends. I enjoyed learning how different people worshiped.
I knew that I needed to have a relationship with God in my life. I was beginning to see how I was protected from things in my childhood. More and more I saw when I wasn’t alone as a child, that He was always there.
For a long time I thought that you really had to be an active member in a church to have have a relationship with God. Then I noticed scandal in church, so I knew that couldn’t be right.
I read a lot and tried to learn more about God. But I wasn’t really reading the Bible. I was reading Christian books, and getting my scripture secondhand with perspective and opinion sprinkled in.
Many years later my husband and I took our children to church. We started to attend church again in our married lives. We had a routine where we would go to church and then go to Starbucks for a treat afterward.
After 8 years of being with my husband I was ready to call it quits on our marriage. The church was really against divorce, or at least our pastor was (like really against it). I learned much about how God hates divorce and how we need to pray for our spouses and how maybe we have high expectations and being emotional we live through our feelings a lot more than we should. That instead of complaining about every little thing, that we need to look at what we have.
I can see how this makes sense with people who are married and not willing to make it work. In the abusive relationship I was in, this only kept me stuck in that relationship and it really allowed his to have more control over me. Although those beliefs kept me stuck, God was looking out for me still. God was always there, holding me and protecting my children and me.
After we moved to Tennessee, we hadn’t found a church yet so I watched the 700 Club on television every morning. One morning after a had suffered a couple days with my shoulder dislocated, there was a prayer of healing on the show for someone with an injured shoulder. I claimed it! On my face I went and unloaded my heart. I rotated my shoulder one time and it popped back into place, it didn’t bother me again! that was 16 years ago.
In that prayer I had rededicated myself to learning and showing Jesus through my actions. My life started to really change, so did the abuse, it got worse.
We finally joined a Church, the teaching was riveting and the people friendly. We loved our church home. We were involved and our kids had many church friends. We were all growing in the Word.
A few years in my husband stopped going to church, yet I continued. This was a big point of argument for us. When I went to church, our friends asked about him, sent messages through me to him. No amount of politely asking them to reach out to him directly lessened this. So I stopped going also. I know they were trying to nudge him through me, but it put me directly in the line of fire sort to speak.
Looking back I believed a lot in what men said was the Word and didn’t read and learn the Word for myself. I let my lack of boundaries keep me from being where I loved being. I let being uncomfortable move me to another place and possibly onto the path of further abuse. But maybe this was a new season.
I decided to dive in alone. I bought a Bible on CD and listened in the early morning, while I crocheted, on road trips, and while working in the garden. I felt I had to hide my newly progressing relationship with God from my husband since he loudly proclaimed how God had turned His back on him. I saw differently. Even now God protects him from himself.
I enveloped myself with worship music. More so, I would find myself overwhelmed by the music. As a child I never heard music like this. Hymns were sung with grace and poise. This music is sung not just from the diaphragm but also the heart, and soul. I could feel the words and emotion in the songs. I was undone quite often after I found the music to crack my sealed up emotions.
My husband decided to move out. Regardless of the abuse I loved my husband, I felt that I carried our relationship and our team single-handedly. I did not want to be a “failure” You would think this would be the time when I would shout to the Heavens “Why have you forsaken me?” But I didn’t. Instead I knew I needed God more than ever. Did I grieve, oh yes. Even now sometimes something hits me just right and I grieve anew. Was this a punishment, absolutely not.
It seemed the closer I got to Christ, the more intense the spiritual warfare was in my marriage. I gave my marriage over to God. I figured if it was meant to be it would be. Further into the Word a went.
It was very painful to be alone and had invested so much of my life and energy into what I thought would last for a lifetime. We had made plans for our future. Now my whole world changed and I grieved.
A person going through this would think this is where God left me, but really this is where God scooped me up and carried me miles and miles without ceasing. He carried me through that deep dark valley so I could reach up and touch the rays of sunlight along the way.
Since that day in February 2015 God has shown so much more faith in me than I have ever shown Him. So many times I have thought my electricity would be disconnected or times when I had only $50 for a month of groceries for 5 people. As I loaded the groceries into my car while crying because it was a miracle that I could feed my children that month (again).
He even planned so far ahead that He prompted me to use the rebate part of the Walmart app so that on a particular day when I had no money and not enough gas in my car to get home it would be there. I was able to use the rebate money at a Walmart affiliated gas station and completely filled my gas tank. Not just enough gas to get home, but filled the tank completely. Whoa! I’m going to say that again – Not just enough gas to get home, but filled my tank completely. Talk about provision!
God has protected us when our living conditions were unsafe and no government agency would help. God provided strength when I had to fight to protect my children and again when I had to let them go into the lion’s den. God provided food, shelter, hope, and love throughout this experience.
A few years ago I started watching Elevation Church on YouTube. I have found a new church home. I know now that the church is the people and not the place. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. Each sermon that is delivered feels like it is specifically for me. I’m learning and growing again. I feel I belong there. I’ll stay a while. I am learning more and more church is not a place, but the people. Especially during this pandemic and church buildings were closed, there has been a great growth in the Christian family.
Spending time with Jesus daily has helped me to see that even in my pain and sometimes self inflicted suffering, all I have to do is sit with Jesus, walk with Jesus, clean with Jesus, garden with Jesus. Do you get it?
I meet with Jesus anywhere. We are taught to pray without ceasing, it doesn’t have to be on our knees with hands clasped or even with our eyes closed. I have found the most effective way for me to connect with Jesus is through music, reading scripture, listening to other people’s testimonies, and by just talking out loud with Him as though we are having a conversation. Like two friends on a walk or riding in the car.
I also still read or listen to Christian books, but I am more selective now and glean what I think would strengthen my relationship with Jesus. Most of my learning comes from reading my Bible and doing Bible studies.
Important people who were taken out of my life were returned to me. All my children are back in my life and we are trying to heal and grow together.
Some people have been removed from my life completely. There are also some new people to get to know. I wonder what journey lies ahead for us. I’m learning that the way I knew life is not how it should or has to be.
There have been many times when I have felt how I imagine Job felt. Grieving the losses of this earthly life, mourning the life I had imagined. Many times suffering by the hands of others, but not blaming God for any of it. The way I see it now is that God is setting me up for something better than I could have ever imagined. He has removed my major obstacles and has given me a new passion of where He can use me.
Mostly I love how I can spend time with Our Father. I’m sure I seem crazy to appear to be speaking to the air, but I speak with Him as I’m sure David or Abraham did. As if He were walking with me or riding along in the car. I find that He is everywhere and the more I engage Him the more places He is because I bring Him with me.
I have decided that in my perceived losses, I have really gained. I have either gained peace, patience, or wisdom. I owe all my triumphs to God. There have been so many Miracles that I can see that God works in my house daily.
One huge thing I have learned over the last 5 years that has really brought me comfort when I don’t really feel the presence of God. It might sound New Age to some, but here it is: God is in everything. God is Love. Love is the energy of the Universe, which proves God is in everything.
This reminds me daily that God is everywhere all the time, I can see this so I don’t have to always feel Him.
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