The story begins decades (at the least) before my birth.  I was born into a family of Christ-Followers.  My great-grandfather (and all of his brothers) were ministers.  His sisters (five of them) ran/run a printing shop in GR that prints Missionary materials, and founded a Christian rest home.  ((They’ve got to be in their 90s now… still having tea-time and reading the Bible.)) My grandfather was a deacon/elder/ on&off preacher.  Both of my grandmothers were church organists and Sunday School teachers.  I have joked that I was ‘christian’ en utero.  It’s not far from the truth – I was born on a Monday, and was present for Wednesday night prayer meeting.

I was immersed in religion from the start – I began singing in front of churches at the age of three, and it moved on to senior centers and christian events… my second-cousins were the kids of Children’s Bible Hour… had my mother not had 2 babies on top of toddler Anna, I would’ve been there, too – they’d requested it, and she turned them down.  Just as well – I’m an advocate of letting kids have normal, fun-filled childhoods.  I played piano for VBS starting at age 14, but participated in AWANA, youth groups, children’s choirs, helped in children’s church… like I said, immersed.

Ah, but the turning point, the decision… I prayed at least four sinner’s prayers that I can remember.  Just to be sure, because you never know if you *really* meant it at age three, and at age five, I didn’t want to go to hell, so I did it again, and at age eight, and at age ten…  Surprised?  That prayer is evil.  I knew Christ – I loved him as only an innocent child could.  He was as much a part of my life as my mom, my siblings, my grandmother.  I was pretty much a ‘christian’ whether I wanted to be or not, and because I was so young, I didn’t know there were people who *weren’t*.  I can’t tell you the day I was “saved”, I don’t believe in that sort of thing anymore, anyhow.  It’s a walk, not an event.  All I know is that it was never about a one-time decision with me.  It was about living in Christ.

Graduation was rough.  I didn’t know what to do or who I was or what was expected of me – I decided three weeks before graduation to flunk my exams just to say in school.  ((grins))  Yeah, well, I was serious about it.  And then came college.  The turning point for me.  I suddenly could do whatever I wanted.  My days were mine to fill as I saw fit… and I chose to fill it with Christ.  I don’t remember it ever being a decision at all – it just came naturally.   I lived an insane life- 4 Bible studies, taught Sunday School, played piano for church, a singles group, a prayer hour… I turned my World History course into an intestive Scripture Study.  It was the closest I’d ever been to the Lord – so incredible, I can’t describe it.  ((And this was all on top of 18 credit hours and 26 hours per week at a fast food joint.  I barely slept.))  God did amazing things for me – I passed classes I had no chance of passing.  I was rescued from some very bad situations, and delivered into some incredible circumstances.  I never wrote anything down during that time – I dwelled so closely in the Lord that I trusted Him implicitly to remind me of whatever I needed – and He did, I missed nothing.  It was truly phenomenal.  He woke me in the night, and I would pray the moment I woke, trusting that He wanted to speak to me, and that’s why He woke me up.  I spent hours in a tiny little chapel on my knees on campus – a place most people didn’t even know existed (it looked like a broom closet from the outside. I loved that no one knew about it – it was private, between me and Him.)   I’d discovered that it didn’t matter what prayer I prayed, what denomination I worshipped with – if I made Christ my LIFE, I had nothing to fear.  It was something that could not have happened because of me… but because of faith.  The Lord gave me a relationship with a man of faith, and our long-distance engagement was also one of faith.  There was a strength, a vivacity to my life that was like breathing fresh air.

Things changed when we moved.  I lost my footing.  My degree was in the air, my future uncertain, my life was wavering.  I was 19 years old, and confused… and afraid.  Most of it was because I had a controlling mother who wouldn’t allow me to continue at college, but rather move with her, because family mattered more.  Family became a crutch, and my mother used that to manipulate me.  Because of family, I ended my engagement, and destroyed that special relationship given me.  And don’t get me wrong – I’m not blaming my mother.  Her part in it was great, but my choice to bow to fear was what undid me.  I became as weak as I had been strong, because I turned my eyes from my Lord to my Mother.  And it was my sin.  She talked me into buying a baby grand, knowing I couldn’t move out with payments on such a thing.  I didn’t think – only obeyed… and felt more and more trapped into a life I hated.  And I got involved with an unbeliever (although he went to church with me, and upon being told from the pulpit that you have to confess your sin, he’d prayed the prayer).  Since he was a ‘believer’, there was no reason to dump him, right?

Things went even further south.  My mother was livid that I wanted independance, to leave her family.  I was 21 and had screaming matches with her over my life.  I had no idea what had happened to me, but my world was a mess.  I wanted to repent and apologize to my ex-fiance… I wanted to return to where I knew I belonged, but by then I was living in an apartment set up by my unbelieving boyfriend for me, in his family friend’s home… I felt obligated to him, and very much trapped.   At the same time, he’d ‘rescued’ me from my Mother, so I was very much grateful for him, and convinced myself that he would grow to love the Lord… he was just new, he needed time, right?  And we married.

My hopes were dashed quickly.  I’d thought that if I (in my backslidden state) ‘grew’ with my new husband back to a strong faith, everything would be good.  Only problem was, my husband didn’t wish to grow.  He felt he was a good man, and that was enough.  He prayed the prayer, he was going to heaven, end of story.  So I thought I would ‘help him’ along, to ‘help him’ see what faith was, what he was missing… what I was missing so desperately that I could cry.  You see, I knew what it was like to be close to the Lord… and it was killing me that I could *get there* anymore.  I was trying too hard, trying to carry my own spirituality and my husband’s at the same time.  And I was getting crushed under the weight of everything.  I was never suicidal, but it was a time of total despair.  Which spanned about 4 years.  I stopped going to church entirely.   I stopped reading the Bible, I stopped caring about anything religious.  It was too much of a tug-of-war, and I was tired.  And miserable.  And chose to give up and slink into a corner to lick my wounds and wallow in pity for my stupidity.

We ended up in marriage counseling – which did nothing for us at all as a couple, and nothing for my husband as a ‘christian’… but it was a turning point for me.  The counselor told me that I could only be responsible for my own walk – no one else’s.  I was in tears every damn session (and some of you remember this… by now I was blogging here.)  It was horrible.  You don’t know the squeeze having a nonnie spouse puts on your heart – and I had to be honest… it had been six years, and there was NO growth on his part.  NO desire.  NO love of the Lord.  He never made Christ his Master.  Period.  I had to face the facts.  And I had a choice – live under the weight of my own efforts and failures, or let it all go and return to the place I had once been in the Lord… in spite of my spouse, my hurts, myself.

I have not looked backwards.  I haven’t even really thought about it, to be honest.  I gave it all up – the fear, the uncertainty, the weight of Brian’s faith… and you’ve seen me blossom here.  First it was a refutation here or there, then it was Faith Fridays… then faith throught the week… then digging deeper, then finding more, until I looked down and realized I was soaring.  I have not returned yet to where I was, but I am confident in my Lord, and confident that His will is for me to reclaim the role He had for me originally.  Nothing is going to get in my way again.

Damn.  That was harsh.  Don’t ask me to do that again, okay?   I don’t much like talking about me.  Thanks, anyhow.

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