In the predawn hours of New Years Day 2004 I was faced with a choice.
After spending New Year's Eve at a local bar with a friend, I came home and through the events that transpired, I saw clearly a vision of my future.
What would happen to me if I continued on the path I had been taking. I had a choice to make and within a split second I knew what my answer was going to be.
I grew up in a Christian home. I was saved at an early age. When I was 13/14 on my Birthday Sunday, Pastor Martin preached a sermon about those of us who had been saved at an early age and knowing if your salvation was real or not. I spent the rest of the day and my party tormented because I could not remember what was in my heart when I was younger. That night I gave my life to Christ and knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was his, and going to Heaven.
In the years that followed I continued to be very active in church. I played the Piano and was in charge of Sunday night offertory, I was the Pianist for our Children's choir and eventually because the leader as well, I sang in the choir and was the assistant choir director, I sang specials, played specials and accompanied people doing specials. Basically every church service I was performing in some aspect.
While I loved going to church, being so involved in the music ministry because a job. Services no longer were for enjoying, but were a check list. Ok Pastor did the announcements, as soon as he prays I will slide up to the Piano, as he's praying I'm running over the song I'm about to play in my head and flexing my fingers. As soon as I would finish one performance my mind was on the next.
Don't get me wrong, I loved going to church. I was always the first one in the van to leave for our 45 min drive to church. I loved going to Word of Life on Wednesday nights, and whatever Youth Activity we had that weekend. I did my daily devotions and prayed, but yet, it was very light I guess would be the term. I believed in God and tried to live my life for him, but my faith was very superficial.
When it came time for me to pick a college to go to I chose Pensacola Christian College, in Pensacola, Florida. I wanted to get a degree in Music and they had a great music program, cheap rates and hello BEACH!!
I was at PCC for three years until I started having health issues in late 2002, I made the choice to transfer back to Indiana and leave PCC after my Junior year. In May 2003 I came back to Indiana after spending three years in Florida.
When I came back to Indiana I was burnt out on Religion. After being at a Christian college for three years, the final year living with a Floor Leader, I was sick of what I had seen. The hypocrisy of what transpired at that college made me sick. I was no where near prepared for living in the real world.
After walking with God for almost all of my life, I thought the grass looked greener on the other side. So I walked away from God.
In the months that followed I became someone I never thought that I would.
I drank alcohol.
I wore completely inappropriate clothing that to this day makes my face red just thinking about how I displayed my body for the world to see.
I walked away from family and friends so that I could continue in my sin without their guilt.
I became someone who you wouldn't imagine.
I remember every detail of the day I lost my Grandpa. He died unexpectedly on the day he was supposed to come home from the hospital. Months into my rebellion and sin I had not talked to God for so long. But I cried out to him that October day and begged him not to take my Grandpa from me. Sadly, that was not in God's plan and I stood at the bottom of his bed as I watched my beloved Grandpa breathe his last breaths.
After my Grandpa died I wasn't just rebelling. I.was.ANGRY. Why had God chosen to take my Grandpa from me, didn't he care how much I needed him? How much I loved him?
After that stormy October day my life only got worse. Imagine losing one of the people you love the most in the world and having no one to turn to. The only person I was close to at this point was the loser guy that I thought I was in love with. We spent most of our time fighting. I have never been so unhappy and alone in my entire life. So I came up with a coping skill. Drinking.
I never liked alcohol, even when I was drinking it. I coughed after every sip. To this day the thought or smell of it makes me turn up my nose. But after I started drinking to seem 'Cool' to the loser guy, I kept drinking because it was the only way I could cope with losing my Grandpa.
So I drank. I drank Alot. Vodka was my choice since I was such a lightweight it could take me out of my misery the quickest. And that was all I wanted. An escape from the misery, pain and total loneliness that I felt.
Those months were the worst time in my life, and believe me, I have been through alot in my almost 30 years of life. But those months without God. I honestly don't know how I made it.
Even though I had distanced myself from my family, my actions were clear to my Grandmother. Thru some sneaking IT hacking she found my secret and confronted me the day after Christmas. What happened then. What I said. Is unspeakable. But yet I said it to her and I ran off to Lafayette to meet up with my loser guy.
My friend from PCC was coming in the next day and we had plans. Partying plans. We had plans to do all kinds of things that we had no business doing as Children of God.
That brings us back to New Years Day, early morning hours, 2004. My friend and I had went to a local bar to celebrate. Clad in a plaid mini skirt, and a skin tight, low cut black top that was practically cut down to my belly button I went to my first bar.
I danced a little on the floor with my friend and then she met a guy. I spent the remainer of the evening and 2003 standing on the side of the dance floor, holding her purse. The whole time I was there, a booming voice kept going thru my brain "What am I doing here? I have no business being here" and on and on it repeated. I knew I had no business being there and I was hugely uncomfortable but God was just getting started with me.
The details of what transpired after that are not important, nor are they my story to tell.
But in the early morning hours of New Years Day 2004 the life I was headed for flashed before my eyes. I'm not just using a popular turn of speech, I had a clear picture in my eyes of what I was going to be in a very short time if I didn't make a choice.
In a heart beat I knew what my answer would be.
I chose God. Or rather, God chose me. I was exhausted. And lonely. And so tired of living the life of sin that I was living. I was terrified of what I saw my life turning into. So I ran straight into the arms of the one that always loved me. The one that never stopped loving me even though I hurt him time and time again.
And friends, it was sweet. It was so much sweeter than I could ever imagine. That next Sunday I was planted firmly in a pew at Kossuth Street Baptist Church. In the Spring of 2004 the movie "The Passion of the Christ" came out into theaters. My new Pastor did a sermon series from January leading up to the Easter about God's Passion for us.
It was like I was meeting Jesus for the first time. I was captivated by his word and his works. I had such a thirst for the word, It was like I couldn't get enough. When the church service would end each week I would be surprised that it was over already, and wished we could stay and study some more.
I can't put into words how amazing that time in my life was. For the first time I had something deeper and was really truely learning about God's amazing love for me. Every Sunday I sat in that pew and just cried my eyes out, totally in awe of the love that he has for us, for ME. After all the horrible things I had done, said and been, my Jesus still loved me. His loved hadn't changed, it hadn't went away despite how I kept hurting him and sinning against him. He loved me anyway.
Don't get me wrong, there were repercussions for my sins and my actions. God is loving but he also has a righteous anger, and when you sin, you don't get rewarded for sinning, you don't get a free pass just because you asked for forgiveness. It took me a long time to build back the relationship with my family. To gain their trust again. For them to know that I wasn't lying or going out and drinking. It was hard, and it took a long time to get through it.
I also had to deal with facing the death of my beloved Grandpa. Since I couldn't deal with it when it had happened, I covered it up with alcohol. Once I came back to Christ I had to face the loss of him and go through the grieving process that I had skipped in my Alcohol fueled denial. That was not easy, but again, I had The Lord walking with me and carrying me through the pain. And I was finally able to realize that even though Grandpa wasn't there, I would see him again in Heaven. I still miss him to this day, and even writing about him and my loss makes my eyes tear up.
Every New Years through Easter is such a special time in my life because I remember where it all began and how God changed me and started working in my life. I remember those first weeks and months of just completely falling head over heels in Love with him and learning how deep his love for me is.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)