This is my Heart Wide Open...
I am a follower of Jesus Christ and this is my story of how I found Him, How He's helped me through hard times and why I choose to follow Him everyday.
I was born in Toledo, OH to a wonderful mom and dad who loved me very much. They are Christians and raised me in a Christian home and took me to church every time the doors were open. So home and church is where I heard about God at a very early age. In Sunday school I remember hearing about what Jesus did for, not only the whole world, but for ME and why. My little mind was so overwhelmed with the thought of such love, and it still is. I learned that Christ wanted to come into my heart and that all I had to do was accept Him and ask Him to save me from my sins. I thought about what I had heard quite often and was very curious and began to ask lots of questions of my parents and Sunday school teacher in the weeks to come.
Until one night, very late, I woke up from a deep sleep and had a very strong feeling that I needed to make a decision about what I had learned. So I got up and went to my parents room and woke them up. I said "Daddy, I want to get saved." Through his sleepy eyes I still remember the look of happiness and realization that he had to what I was saying. He had a huge smile on his face and picked me up and put me in the middle between them. At this point, my mom was smiling, hugging and kissing me ... until my dad made her stop so he could ask me some questions. By the tone of his voice, I could hear some concern and I knew exactly what he was thinking. You see, I was only five years old that night and although I was years older in my understanding, Dad just wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing.
So at the tender age of five, on a late September night, I asked the Lord into my heart and began a relationship that I will never regret! It is hands down, the best decision I have ever made in my life. That night is when my true life began.
Looking back on my life after I had accepted Christ , I can see how He was working in me and giving me a heart for others to know Him as well. I would tell the kids in my neighborhood who He was and pray for them in my bed time prayers to accept Him too. And as my baby sister started to get older, my heart was heavy for her soul as well. Thankfully, she also accepted Christ as her personal Savior and I had the sweet privilege to lead her to the Lord one night.
My childhood was easy and so much fun. I had plenty of food, clothes, toys, a daily playmate in my little sister, tons of cousins to make the best of friends, parents, grand-parents, and even great-grand-parents to love me very much. I literally had nothing to complain about (although I'm sure I found something lol, just ask my mom). The worst thing I had to worry about was if I was going to get to go with my mamaw and papaw after church on Sundays.
But then one day, everything changed. I was 13 and had never experienced anything that tested my faith in the way that this day and the days that came did (and sometimes still do). On May 12, 2004 my Dad went to work like he always did to drive his semi-truck, but unlike all the other days, he didn't come home. He was in a terrible accident in his truck and went home to be with the Lord that day. The news devastated my family and as for me, I was in agonizing pain coming to grips with the fact that I had lost my role model, best friend and daddy!
To an extent I would show some emotion but for the most part I held all my pain inside so I could be strong for my family. I got very good at suppressing my thoughts and feelings about the whole circumstance that had turned my world upside down. I knew all the right things to say to comfort and to help people keep their faith in God during such a difficult time. I felt like every time I turned around someone was saying "Linds, you are wise beyond your years." I knew that what I was saying was truthful and I was only comforting people with words I knew my dad would say but I hadn't actually allowed the truth of those words to sink into my own heart.
The years past so quickly since that awful day and before I knew it, I had become a very bitter teenager in high school. Teenage years are rough for most daughters and moms, even under the most normal of circumstances; so with all of our pain and grief my mom and I were at odds almost all of the time. I pushed her and my sister away and at the time I couldn't really give you an answer why, except that they "annoyed" me. I spent a lot of time away from home, spending the night with different family members, to neglect the painful truth that my home wasn't normal anymore. Some who knew me at this point of my life might read this and think, 'she seemed like she had it all together to me.' Let's just say that I was very good at acting because I even believed it myself.
Through high school I still attended church and was very involved but I had put my relationship with God on a shelf which collected a lot of dust before I truly came back to Him again. It's not that I was so furious with Him for allowing certain things to happen in my life or that I doubted if there really was a God but I now know it was because deep down if I talked to the Lord at all, then we were definitely going to have to discuss my grief and pain and the awful truth that my Dad was never coming back.
The longer I left Him on that shelf, the farther into the world I ventured. I was so far away from Him that I eventually became a liar, a cheat, a thief and my heart became so incredibly hard and ugly. At last, I had hit rock bottom and let me tell you, if you've never been there, it is so dark and you feel like there is no hope for you. But eventually the only way to look is UP. Hitting rock bottom forced me to realize that I can not do things on my own, (Clearly!) and that I will fail every single time if I try.
So I had two choices that both included God but not in the way you'd expect. 1. To use the Lord to pick me up just far enough until I could see for myself again and only have to commit a period of time and devotion to Him. OR 2. To let the Lord pick me up in His comforting arms and never let go because in my heart I knew I would end up right back where I started time and time again without Him. I don't know about you, but number 2 logically should be the only option, yet it's so sad how many people choose the first choice over and over again. Thankfully, my Lord kept on pursuing me in more ways than I can count. Finally, I chose path number two and I knew there was no turning back to my old ways.
A few months went by and I was preparing to attend a college in my home town...but the Lord had other plans. He led me 12 hours away from home to Springfield, MO to attend Baptist Bible College and prepare for a life time of ministry for Him. Even though I barely knew one person, the Lord didn't have to do much persuading because He Himself gave me an adventurous travelin' soul! Plus I knew even as a little kid that I would end up in the ministry, and this was finally my chance to learn more about God.
Fall came and I headed out to Missouri for my new life. I felt so much more alive knowing that Christ was the head of all my decisions and I just knew that I was in the right place. I made lots of friends and we had lots of fun! Those years I would never replace for all the world.. I learned so much, I did so much and I found my sweet heart! After attending college for a couple of years, Lance and I started dating and it was a thrill of a life time! He was exactly the kind of man that I wanted and prayed for!
Backing up just a bit...It was just a couple months into my first semester and I started to feel the all too familiar pain in my chest. Grief. I even hated the word. I just didn't want to grieve! I wanted to skip it all together and go on with my life because it just hurt way too much. I wrestled with God about this for a little while but finally let Him take me in His arms as I would ball my eyes out night after night in my dorm room. Day after day I dealt with my pain and agony, but I was not alone. I can hardly explain the comfort that I found in my God. It is unimaginable to think of me going through that alone! And then... it started to get easier, I knew I would always miss my Dad but I felt like I could actually breathe again. Being 12 hours away from my family (although I missed them) really helped because I didn't feel the burden of being strong for them on a daily basis. As of this year it has been 9 years since I have gotten to talk to my dad. I still have rough days, when I miss him terribly, but just knowing that he is in the comfort of God's presence sooths the sting so much more. Plus, knowing that I can see him again one day, makes me SO ecstatic I can hardly stand it! God still continues to help me with this issue, but bad days are getting farther and farther apart.
Fast forward to March 9, 2013... Lance and I's wedding day. It was such an amazing feeling that I didn't know truly existed until I experienced it myself, that I could love someone so much and know without a doubt that they loved me just as much as I loved them. Standing on that stage in front of our friends and family, I could feel the Lord's presence between Lance and I. I knew that our commitment to one another, in Him, was such an honoring form of worship. My heart was so full. Our wedding day was simple and beautiful and the best part was at the end of it all... we were FINALLY married!
So here we are, newlyweds. Lance is still in college working towards his pastoral studies degree and I work for the school that he attends/aspiring to be a photographer on the side. I can admit it, we are dirt poor (in money that is). The first few months that we have been married have not been a breeze financially. Sometimes I think, how in the world are we going to eat for the next 5 days when we only have 5 bucks for the both of us. But I am telling you the Lord provides every single time in one way or another. But my relationship with God isn't about what I can get out of it. Our relationship is about my Father loving me so much that He sent His only son to die for me, such love that my mind can not comprehend. So I will live all the wrest of my days telling people I meet about the love that He has for each and every one of us. I choose to walk with God every day no matter the cost. Being a Christian isn't peaches and cream all of the time, sometimes it's hard to stand up for what is right. Sometimes you are ridiculed just because you believe in Him. Sometimes people reject you for your rules and boundaries that you have placed on your life. But you know what... it is SO worth it. The love that I can feel wrap all around me when I am scared, lonely, mad, sad, happy; whatever emotion, I know my God is always with me. This is why I choose to follow Him.
One more thing.. I think that some people don't understand what it means when someone says they have a relationship with God. So if you have that question, I will try and make it as clear to understand as possible. Do you have a relationship with your Mom or Dad, your husband or wife, your children? Maybe you have a relationship with all of those people. What does that mean to you, to have a relationship with them? Well my guess is you spend time with them, you talk to them, you talk about them to others, because they are a part of your life. Even though you can not see God, He is just as real and alive as you and me. You can feel Him, you can talk to Him and you can tell others of Him. He wants a relationship with every single one of us. But it's so sad that only a few will answer.
If you have more questions about what Jesus did for you and why.. please please please do not hesitate to email me and ask. Do not feel like you are bothering me. This is what I live my life for. You my friend, are reading this for a purpose today. Either you have a relationship with the Lord already that you have put up on a shelf and it has collected a lot of dust, or you may have some deep pent up pain or grief that you need to let the Lord help you with. You might not know anything about God at all, and that's ok, we all had to start from the beginning too. Whatever your reason may be, please comment below or email me. But remember don't be ashamed of your questions because more than likely there are many who are wondering the same thing and aren't brave enough to say anything.
My Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.. I hope me opening my heart has touched you in some way.