There was a time that I would look around at my life and wonder “why me?” Few are aware that I grew up in a completely emotionally abusive then later physically abusive home. I loved my dad dearly and respect him for a lot of things except the way he lived during my younger years. I didn’t understand why I had been born to such a person. I didn’t understand why I had a mom who wouldn’t stand up to him. Why she would let me (and herself) be treated in a way that no one should ever be subjected to. I didn’t understand why it constantly felt like no one cared. I was so sad, so miserable and so incredibly lost that I just wanted to know; why?
Years after my mom died, I had been shuffled through a couple of different homes and was back at my dad’s house. I had a new step mom and what I thought would be a fresh start but my dad wasn’t ready to change which meant my life wasn’t going to change yet either. An elderly woman that lived up the country road from us simply took mercy on me. I don’t know how she knew what I was going through or how she knew that I needed her but like an angel, she did. She started taking me to church with her every Sunday morning. Every Sunday morning I would climb into her pickup truck wearing the one skirt I owned and away we would go. For those few hours a week I wasn’t being yelled at. I wasn’t being ignored. I wasn’t being told what a bad kid I had become. I wasn’t being told I was lazy or stupid or anything else that could add to the crushing of my spirit. For those few hours, I had refuge in God’s house and in His house no one hurt me.
All around me were people who talked about Jesus and His love and how He loves us no matter what we had done and that we couldn’t earn His love by doing anything. He would give it freely. Coming from a home where I couldn’t do enough to win favor it was a hard concept. Unconditional love? Couldn’t be. Everything has a catch and everything has to be earned and there was no way someone, especially not God , would love me the way I was. I was an awful kid; ask my dad. He would tell you! Week after week Ms. Betty would come to pick me up and week after week I would go, not because I was becoming “religious” but because it was an easy escape; little did I know the seed was being planted.
Looking back, I see that a tag team of people had been placed at that little county church for me. Ms Betty never asked me to explain bruises or why my face was red from crying when she picked me up. We both knew there would be no easy answer and no easy escape so instead she just loved me and took me in as often as she could. Ms Barbara (my Sunday school teacher) never cared that I had on the same skirt week after week or that I asked stupid questions because I just didn’t know who the people were in the bible that she was talking about. No one cared that I never had a dime to put in the offering plate and Ms Dorothy (the pianist) didn’t care that I couldn’t follow the music of a hymn to save my life but I loved to sing when she played for the choir. My best friend (who may have not known that I thought of her as my best friend, my only friend at the time) didn’t care if I had name brand clothes or looked a certain way when I sat by her. Most of all, no one cared why I was coming to church, they just cared that I was there.
It took months for God to work on me. I was only 15 but my heart was hardened and I wasn’t about to let anyone into it who would just hurt me more or who I would disappoint, especially not Jesus. I knew if I blew it, the way my dad said I blew everything else, I would find my bottom on a speeding train to hell (at least that’s what I thought). So week after week, then month after month I would sit in the same pew, in the same spot (in a different dress by now though because Ms Betty had hand sewn one for me) and I would listen. I would listen to how much Jesus loved me. How much I needed to repent. How much He wanted a relationship with me. With ME? Jesus? Jesus wants a relationship with ME?
Finally one Sunday morning, I have no idea what the sermon was, I have no idea what was being said. I only know that Jesus said “Just as I am…thy blood was shed for me.” With everything that was so wrong with me, Jesus was calling me. I stood up from the same spot, on the same pew and I gave my life to Jesus. A week later I was baptized in the little creek that ran alongside the church. No one from my family was there but it didn’t matter. My church family was and Jesus assured me that was all I needed.
Now, some 20+ years later, I look at my life and still wonder why me? Why did Jesus save ME? How did I become so blessed to be born into a country that I can worship freely and be introduced to Him without fear of threat? How did I become so blessed to have an incredible husband, a beautiful loving daughter, a home with plenty of food and everything we need in abundance? Why me? As I question, I am reminded of John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
May have life abundantly…I gave my heart to Jesus and in return, He gave me life and let me have it abundantly. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as the one and ONLY son of God, if you haven’t made that decision to open your heart to Him, just know that He’s there waiting for you too. Just as you are.