Testimony, Delayed

by Cindy on May 23, 2011

Yesterday, on my way out the door of the last gas station on earth that doesn’t have pay-at-the-pump equipment, I walked past a young woman in a pretty orange-flowered dress. I’m very distractible, so the colors caught my eye—so much so that I didn’t see the face of the woman wearing the dress. My mother later informed me that if I had lifted my eyes a few inches further, I’d have beheld the face of a cousin of mine, who was accompanied by her sister and mother. I was disappointed to have missed a chance to speak to them. Despite my social anxiety, I really am a people person. I love to see and speak to absolutely everybody once I get past the initial “Oh, God, please make the ground open up and swallow me before I make a fool of myself” part of social encounters.

It occurred to me later that, if they saw me, they must certainly have recognized my face (and thought me all kinds of stuck up, but honest, I’m just that absent-minded),  but my heart and mind would be utterly foreign to them…and so would my faith, my lifestyle, and this blog. Especially this blog.

I haven’t had occasion to speak to these particular relatives of mine in about 8 years, several of which were spent in a sort of spiritual convalescence where I didn’t speak to or see practically anybody besides my immediate family. Few people would understand it, probably, but I was a very weak person, and God had to put me in a very lonely place for a long time so that I could learn to hear His voice over the voices of those around me. In those years, I changed so much that I can barely comprehend it myself. I hesitate to even try to explain such a transformation. Words can’t do it justice.

If this blog didn’t have my name and picture plastered all over it, my aunt and her daughters would never in a million years guess who was writing it (in the event they found themselves reading blogs by homeschooling social media addicts, which seems unlikely).

And you, my friends, would never guess what I was like before, given the content of my blog. I haven’t given you very many clues about my past. I have hinted in previous posts that I made a lot of mistakes, but I have mostly left my personal history out of things. This is partly because I prefer to focus on ideas rather than myself when I write, and it is partly because I don’t spend very much time thinking about a past that has been gloriously defeated.

I have to admit, though, that my reticence is also in part because I am a coward. My past could easily be used against me, and I’m exposing the softest part of my very soft underbelly in writing about it. But my weakness is His strength.

If someone from my past were to read this blog, the word “hypocrite” might easily pass their lips, and not entirely unjustly, because there is barely a word here that suggests the kind of human refuse they knew me to be. Who, by reading this blog, would ever guess that this writer, who believes so strongly in the sanctity of marriage, has been divorced, and through no fault of the husband she wronged? Or that this mother of four (and, God willing, more to come) was once barren? Or that this apparently sane person more than once spent several weeks in locked-down psychiatric care, unable to form a coherent thought due to mental and spiritual illness?

I don’t like to brag, but I was as thorough an example of human fallen-ness and broken-ness as you’re ever likely to come across. When I screw up, I do it completely. I have no sense of self-preservation at all. A crude flowchart of my adult life, starting at age 16 (believe me, I could write a book, but it wouldn’t be edifying at this point) goes like this:

depression—>drugs—>confused teenage love affair—>suicide attempt—>depression—>promiscuity—>marriage—>adultery—>alcohol—>divorce—>mental illness—>drugs—>depression—>suicide attempt—>psychiatric drugs—>remarriage—>depression—>suicide attempt—>drugs—>prophecy (which I will tell you about soon!)—>depression—>drugs—>Christ—>recovery—>motherhood—>depression—>drugs—>recovery—>victory—>?

You’ll notice that even after Christ turned my life around and confirmed my faith with the gift of a son, I slipped up and had yet another bout of depression and drug use. I wish my story included a nice clean break between past and present, but redemption is as much a process as it is a crisis point of salvation. Some of us start out from a weaker place than others. God never left me through my struggles, and He brought me out the other side victorious!

There is nothing hypocritical in my keeping silence about these things. But there is such a huge disconnect between my present and past that anyone who used to know me might read my words and wonder why I’m hiding so much. Rest assured, I’m not intentionally hiding anything, nor am I ashamed anymore, though I will always regret all the harm I’ve done. I just haven’t gotten to writing about that stuff yet. It’s not as easy to write about as, say, feminism.

I knew I’d have to explain these things eventually, of course, and I’ve sat down to write it out many times. My chance almost-encounter at the gas station opened up a flood of memories for me and made the writing of this confessional post seem a little less scary. If I had seen the faces of the people who were right in front of me (something I apparently need to work on),  I might have had opportunity to tell them just how much God is able to do for even the most pathetic loser.

If it were my story, it wouldn’t be worth telling, but it’s God’s story. He deserves the praise for it. I hope the next time I pass by a person who knew me back then, I won’t be so blind to the opportunity to introduce them to the God of the here-and-now.

{ 17 comments }

Sue May 23, 2011 at 11:50 am

A beautifully messy story is what makes the power of God so evident in your life.

I can’t wait to read more…

SleeplessinSummerville May 23, 2011 at 11:56 am

Thank you for this. I can relate, down to noticing someone’s dress and missing their face! I appreciate your honesty for telling about how sometimes even when you find Christ, it is not all smooth sailing afterwards. The difference is that your problems are less likely to be caused by unrecognized sin. Anyway, keep writing. I am loving what I’m reading here!

The Husband May 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm

psychiatric drugs—>remarriage—>depression

Speaks volumes about how I landed her, doesn’t it? ;-)

Cindy is why I came to Christ. The matter of prophecy (which apparently, she’ll get to) played a small part of it; watching Christ work in her life is the main reason.

Mary Jo May 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Cindy, I can only imagine how painful it was to write all of that. As a blogger, I know that acute fear of opening your soul to strangers. But I want to thank you. It is such an important reminder of how wonderful our God is– and how nothing is impossible with Him. So many times we become judgmental of others, forgetting that it is only God Who is working in us to will and to do His good pleasure. Without that, any one of us would be (and were) entirely dead in trespasses and sins. Love you, sister.

Jasmine May 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

That was beautifully written. You are not along in your ugly past or you redemptive present and future. Praise God for His amazing grace and mercy.

Kimberly
Twitter: Homeschool_zoo
May 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm

God bless ya! ((HUGS))

Most of us have lives that are less than neat and squeaky clean…

That’s what Christ is there for, Hon.

He’s good at cleanin up our messes!

If Heaven were only for perfect people,

It would be perfectly…

…empty!

Christina May 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus our Lord… Christ has set us free from sin and darkness! Thank you for sharing your story. It is not so uncommon.

manda May 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

The person I was before I became a Mother was disastrous. God had always been with me, just I didn’t care about myself and I was really angry about being stuck here on this Earth. Then I got pregnant at 16 and when the cult wanted me to get rid of him they said, go talk to God so I did… I went in and I said that God and I decided to keep him. (These people are crazy btw.) And I left. I actually went outside and made a promise that I would stick around for as long as he needed me (my son) and I wouldn’t do anything incredibly stupid. This is why I tell my son I can’t die, because I made a deal. lol. Anyways… we’re a lot a like, you and I. Our pasts are pretty much the same and I couldn’t tell anyone all the awful things I’ve done or the awful things that had happened to me. That’s between me and God, she doesn’t exist anymore, that other me, and it’s not nice to speak ugly of the deceased.

Amanda (the sister)
Twitter: RamandaHarvey
May 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I love you, and I love your bravery and willingness to share. Aren’t you glad we had parents who never stop praying. And each other, too–I don’t know what I would do without my big sister.
BTW, Jesse, I think the remarriage may have been in a moment of lucidity ;) . (Don’t mind my levity…I do have some tears in my eyes.)

Cindy May 24, 2011 at 9:23 am

I’m not brave. I just felt like writing, and that’s what was there. :0)

republicanmother May 24, 2011 at 8:53 am

In my homeschooling group, I was amazed by the number of women who have testimonies similar to yours. I’ve got my own boo boos in my past, not so dramatic, but the more distinct the U-turn the more hope it gives to others and the more glory God receives.

Rebecca June 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Seriously…..? Somtimes, I feel like we have known each other forever….maybe sisters or the same person. I make it by often, yet don’t leave many comments. Your words are always enough…never anything additional needs to be said. Yet, like you,my past is my past…it’s like your past, I think I could write the same words over and over and over…like you, your words, my words,they are the same. Our God…the same. Our story, his story….yet, he’s growing us differently, helping us to reach others. Maybe one day, I’ll have more courage to share more of my story, like you have….until then…know this…your story is not a condemnation of the future, but freedom from the past because of HIS LOVE. Love you bunches….your courage…..and hope to meet you one day!

Donetta
Twitter: donettadalman
June 21, 2011 at 1:09 am

Here I am again, on another post..feeling like a stalker but unable to quit reading. ;) In a good way though right?? haha! We had family movie night so I closed the computer but I came back to it before going off to bed and I still had my internet open on your blog so I started looking through more. Wow! What an amazing testimony to what Christ can do! I love stories like this. The pain and suffering that you had to go through to get there are obviously not something to be glad about, but it shows just what a total transformation Christ can make and how He can take anything and make something good come of it.

I agree that you are brave and courageous for sharing this. It’s a hard thing to do – open yourself up completely like that for all of the internet world to see! But who knows how many lives it might affect by your willingness to share your story. Thanks for doing so.

And now I really will stop for the night. ;)

Jamerrill @ Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling
Twitter: JamerrillWriter
November 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Yup, I totally love, love, love YOU and your story. God is so big, and smack dab in the middle of both.

kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing
Twitter: AdventurzNchild
September 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

It is God’s story – and I’m so glad you are God’s girl! love you sister – and I’m so happy you have let God heal you and make you whole- thank you for sharing!

Kelli
Twitter: ladyofthebarn
September 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Your words are beautiful, God’s story in you is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Cannot wait to one day see you again and hug your neck.

Jamie {See Jamie blog}
Twitter: jamieworley
December 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

I love your heart and your courage, and the Jesus I see in you. I’m glad you reshared this post because I missed it the first time around. My story is just as messy, and I’ve been praying/struggling about how to share it. I feel His prompting to do so, but there are parts I need to be careful with.
And one of these days, I hope I get to meet you in real life and hug your adorable hillbilly neck. ;)

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