My Spiritual journey cannot be defined by any one moment, as there were many moments like signposts pointing me to Christ. I grew up in the aftermath of the death of a sibling, even now I still miss him, 28 years later. It’s amazing how someone you knew for such a short time, can impact so much of your life. Though I have long-since worked it through with God, I still have days (mostly on his birthday) where I feel his ‘missing-ness’. Where something in me longs for all of those lost years, like the bible describes ‘the years the locusts have eaten’.
Later, my sisters and I were caught up in the tragedy of divorce and the dissolution of our family unit, as a result of infidelity. I wrestled with anger, rejection and loneliness for a long time. I used things and people to try to make myself feel better, when all I wanted to do was stop the pain. Eventually, at 16, after two suicide attempts, I had an experience with God which led me to want to know Him and to live my life for Him. I remember my second suicide attempt, lying on the cold floor watching my blood drip on the tiles, feeling only nothingness. Emptiness. A great empty hole in my life that nothing had pacified. I remember fading in and out of consciousness, whether from drugs, shock, or loss of blood I don’t remember. But as my eyes began to close and tears started falling down my cheeks I could feel my breath meeting the cold tiles. And I started to cry out to God, asking him to help me. I’m not sure it was audible, but I felt Him saying to me ‘I’m here. I’ve been waiting for you.’
My life didn’t change over night and it took many years to get my life back on track, but it was truly only possible through the grace and strength of Christ. I lived overseas for a year and I spent a lot of time questioning God, and wanting answers. Yet, I’ve noticed we don’t often get the answer to our ‘why’ straight away. Six years ago, I battled cancer and came to a real assurance that God was there during the tough times. Much time was also leant to personal reflection and through the really low moments I came to a greater understanding of his word, and his love for me. When the storm had passed and I was able to begin teaching young people, God revealed to me things I had been wondering. I had incredible suffering- and that allowed me to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, just as Jesus did. I had much experience with the depths of loneliness- which gave me strong assurance that God was one who would stick closer than a brother and loved me enough to die so that I could have life. I had many questions- and God showed me He is the only one with the answers. It was like the teaching became an answer to my ‘why’ when I saw replicated in the lives of students the heartaches and despair of my own troubled youth. For some reason this gave me an amazing sense of hope and compassion for the students entrusted to me. And it showed me that even when I didn’t understand it suffering has a purpose. His glory.
It’s interesting how time passes and healing comes, so many things you considered important seem to fall away like mist, and soon you don’t notice that you have moved on, grown, learned to love and trust again. God has honed you, like gold, refined in a fire.
Mostly, I see His peace. Joy that surges in me when I think of the darkness that cannot hide when confronted with His light. The repentance that fills my heart when I think of my own sinful nature that kept pulling me from his path. And mostly I am awed. By his power. That he never lets us go no matter how great a storm rages around us, or how lost we seem to be in the darkness. He always calls us back. He always wins the battle. He always calms the storm. He never gives up.
Maybe this new life, the sense of peace, growth, love is all part of restoration. I don’t know. I only know it is part of the journey. And I am loved beyond measure…