Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Emily's Testimony

Here's a copy of what I read on Sunday. Before reading, you should go grab a kleenex.

I was asked on Monday to write part of my story for Donnie to share on Sunday. I sat down Tuesday night and began praying, thinking and writing. For 3 hours I sat staring at a screen before I finally started typing something. I worried about it being perfect; I worried what others would think as Donnie shared my flawed past. He told me that it didn’t have to be perfect; he told me that I didn’t even have to share some of the things that I have told him and Erin about. With that in mind, I finally started writing. A page and a half later I thought that I was finished. I sent that rough draft onto Donnie in hopes that he approved of what I had written. Yet, all day Wednesday I just didn’t feel like my heart was in the right place as I was typing. I didn’t feel like I conveyed enough of my emotion. I didn’t feel like it was complete. So, once again I sat down to write. This time I knew whatever came out would be the message that he is now going to share with you.
6 months ago I was just starting a new job and was living life day to day, I was content with how things were. I was just living life, much like everyone else. I had a friend who was pregnant and in a rough situation, and she had decided that adoption was the right choice for herself and her child. I had told a co-worker who then told me about Erin. When I met Donnie and Erin, I wasn’t expecting life to take the twists and turns that it has, I wasn’t expecting to gain a friendship…much less gain a relationship with Christ in the process. However, that my friend’s is what God’s plan was. On November 13th I got a call from my friend saying that she had gone into labor and that the baby was going to be born, that there was nothing that they could do. She wanted me to call Erin. That night Erin and I met and went together to the hospital. It was the first night that I allowed myself to be vulnerable with Erin. I told her a lot about my feelings, life, and even cried. I let everything out. Just 3 months before I had a miscarriage, and then knowing that another baby was about to be born and not make it…I was angry. I didn’t understand how God could allow these things to happen. Why would God? I didn’t want to know, I just wanted to be angry. For hours that night Erin spoke with me, assuring me that while she didn’t have all the answers she believed and trusted that there was in fact a purpose. That God had a plan. It almost made me sick that she was so sure. I told her that there was nothing that would make me believe or trust that God had a purpose or that He even cared. Months later I would be eating those very words.
Right after Christian’s death I spiraled back into a self consumed lifestyle I had gotten out of just a little over a year before. I began using drugs again, not caring about anyone or anything. I began cutting myself again to release the pain that was eating away at me. I felt like there was no other release. I avoided everyone I could, including Erin. I was afraid she would sense something, or worse…that she would know. I also feared her being angry at me for what had happened. For about a month I continued the self destructive lifestyle of drug use and cutting. Until one day I realized where I was headed. I knew I needed help and the only person I could think of to ask was Erin. I can assure you that this was no easy task. With my head down, my eyes distant and a quiver in my voice I walked into her classroom and asked if we could talk. I paced back in forth, expecting her to start yelling at some point. We spoke for quite awhile, she shared her disappointment and concerns. She also shared the diagram of me on one box and God on another and the two being connected by the cross. A light bulb came on at that moment and finally things made sense. I didn’t have to do anything but want the relationship with God! He had already done everything for me! There was no amazing feat that I had to accomplish for Him to accept me, He already had!
For weeks after that conversation I slowly began to soak in everything I could. I quit using drugs, quit cutting, started talking more and even smiling. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road. Learning to forgive others, and more importantly myself has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I have struggled greatly with being able to forgive myself for my past choices and lifestyle. I had a hard time understanding that forgiving and forgetting are two very different things. I don’t want to forget the road I have traveled to be who I am today or who I will become as my relationship with Christ grows. While my past doesn’t define who I am, it has greatly shaped who I have become. It shows what God’s grace, mercy and unending love have brought me through.
In December my uncle passed away, he was like a 2nd father to me; he was a tall and skinny man who always saw the good in people and shared his love for Christ with everyone that he met, even after his diagnosis in September of inoperable cancer. Even though he was told he wouldn’t make it to the New Year he continued to have faith in God and trust in His will. I went to see him just 2 weeks before he passed away. He asked me how my “search for truth and self” was coming along. I told him "not well". I told him that I understood what I had to do, but that I was scared. His final words to me were “Em, stop trying so hard.” I chuckled and told him “I’ll try”. Looking back now, he was exactly right. Once I stopped trying to find myself I found God. I found exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I needed. His death happened shortly after my light bulb moment with Erin. I thought God was slapping me in the face; however it wasn’t that at all. He was showing me that He has a purpose for us here, and if we trust in Him once it is fulfilled we are free of the pain and ailments of this world and are able to come home.
For the past 6 months Erin has allowed me to travel the road, hit the bumps, and even allowed me to fall on occasion, each time being right there to make me brush myself off and get back up. She has for 6 months been the presence of God, showing me the importance of a relationship with Him without cramming it down my throat. I have pushed her away, but she silently stood by letting me take the baby steps that I needed to, to get where I am today. I never would have guessed 6 months ago I would be sitting in church listening to a pastor share a story about my life, my mistakes and my faults. Of course I didn’t think that I would be a firm believer in God either…but, I am.
In the past few weeks I have learned that being a Christian doesn’t mean life is perfect, in fact it means that you choose to see beyond the imperfections to the greater purpose. It doesn’t mean that you’re perfect; it means that you strive to live life for God’s purpose and plan…which is perfect. Life is full of adventures, memories and tragedies all are mere speckles that form the grand masterpiece of God’s creation…YOU! Choosing to see beyond circumstances, and misfortunes isn’t easy…I can attest to that. Though I can also tell you that this “new life” is far greater than the one I was living. It’s not easier, it’s not perfect and it’s not financially any different…but I am truly SO much richer!


Richard said...

Awesome! Blessings on Emily's continued walk and witness - and TFC's continued outreach and ministry as Christ-followers.

Anonymous said...

Donnie & Erin,

This story reminds me of a new book, Organic Church. This is the way to win the un-churched. Thank you for sharing this testimony. We're still praying for TFC.