I had a pretty normal life growing up. We didn’t go to church and never discussed religion, but I grew up knowing there was a God. However, we weren’t “bible thumpers” (I now hate that term) in the least bit. My parents divorced when I was 13 and I went on to live with my mom. My dad was the type to financially support me but that’s as far as the support ever went. My sisters and I were never allowed to cry or show emotion or we were told to “dry it up”. He never showed us any affection and until my parents divorced, he never told me he loved me. Imagine that. A father never speaking the words ‘I love you’ to his daughter until she was 13. What?! His discipline at times was rough and hurtful. Whether it be emotionally or physically. Him and my mom never hugged, kissed, or said I love you. That just wasn’t my dad. He was a very gruff man as I like to say. I never had an example of what love was supposed to be like, and I didn’t have a father to teach me how a man was supposed to treat me. If you’re catching my drift you’re probably realizing this caused problems for me later on in life. You know, the typical daddy issues. Yeah it’s a real thing and it’s not fun. Until now really, I never had a real relationship with my dad. I loved him and knew he loved me even though he never showed it, but I was far from being daddy’s little girl. My mom was my best friend and was the total opposite of my dad. She loved with all her heart and did the best job as a mother. For all intensive purposes, she raised me on her own. Most of who I am today I owe all to my mom. My two sisters are much older than me and are my dad’s children from another marriage. They were just little nuggets when my parents married so my mom pretty much raised them as well. My sister Stefanie is so very close to my heart. Her and I have an insane bond and always have. My other sister Heather moved out when I was fairly young so I never formed that close bond with her. Stay with me, I promise this will all serve a purpose in the future.
Now fast forward 22 years and here we are today. On April 7, 2016 I was saved by the grace of God. That is the day my life truly began. Months before I gave my life over to the Lord, I was way down in the dumps. That’s really an understatement actually. I had been experiencing extreme anxiety which was not the norm for me. I would break down at work for no reason, cry about nothing, and constantly question every decision I had ever made in my life. At the time I was dating my boyfriend, Cody. Bless his heart he had no idea what to do with me. However, while I was battling with anxiety, which I soon realized was the enemy digging his nasty little claws into me, I even questioned my relationship with him. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally in love with my boyfriend and thank the good Lord above for sending me that sweet boy. But when you’re under that veil.. You don’t realize that your thoughts are not really your own. So the enemy had me convinced that there was no way I was going to be happy and it was all my fault. All the decisions I had made in the past seven months were wrong, I screwed up. Now back to my sister Stefanie. Like I said before we are SUPER close. She lives a couple of hours away so I don’t get to spend as much time with her as I would like, so when I do get the opportunity to see her, you better believe I’m all over it! So there I was, in my dark place, getting ready for work one day when I got a text from my sister. She was coming into town for a conference and wanted to know if she could come up and stay with me and my mom. Now I really knew something was wrong when I immediately felt inconvenienced. My sister, who I loved, was coming down and I couldn’t help but think what a bad time it was for her to be here. When the day finally came for her to come down, I had a terrible night at work and was not looking forward to seeing her. Definitely unlike me. We didn’t get to talk much before bed but she told us that the conference she had come for was called Kairos. A special seminar of sorts that was being held at a local church. It promised to be life changing and to help you invite the Lord to be in control of your life. She also stated that a MIRACLE had happened within our family, my mom claiming my dad was a messenger of God! Now hold on a minute, my dad? A messenger of God?! HA! Yeah okay mom, I want whatever you’re on. While my sister gave just a tidbit of what had happened I began getting angry and upset. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God could work a miracle in our family, He knows we needed it, but I was so furious for reasons now that I can’t really explain. The only thing I know to say was that it wasn’t me. While yes, I was still Whitney, the devil had basically taken control over my body and my life. Now I guess my mom had noticed that I wasn’t exactly excited about the news so she mentioned it to my sister the next day. When she got back from her first day at Kairos, eager to tell us everything she learned, she asked me a question I wasn’t prepared to hear. She looked at me and asked if I had ever been saved. I totally started boohooing and confessed to her that I had been battling anxiety and all that poopy stuff, and wait for it, told her it was a BLESSING that she had come. Now I know you’re probably thinking, wait a minute! Just a minute ago you said it was an inconvenience! You’re totally right, but once she spoke those words to me it was like that dirty veil had been lifted from my eyes. She began to tell me that she had reservations about coming to stay with us, and of course the devil was discouraging her, but that God had told her if she went, there would be a BLESSING. So that night me, my sister, and my mom sat in the garage of our apartment and I repeated a prayer my sister spoke to me, and I was saved. Born again. Praise God! Now this is where you expect me to say I’ve served the Lord ever since and it’s been great, but unfortunately it doesn’t end there. The days after I was saved my sister AND my dad told me that it wasn’t going to be easy. It wasn’t going to be easy staying in the word and following God. Of course at the time I was thinking oh yeah I know! I really had no clue just how hard it would actually be.
Now let’s go back to my wonderful boyfriend. After I was saved and became a totally different person, or so I felt, him and I were on total different levels. Cody struggled with his own relationship with God and I just came at him like a bat outta hell. I was so excited that I didn’t stop to think how hard all of this would be for him to take in. I would say that started the decline of our relationship. I pushed and pushed Jesus on him, which never works, and instead of it brining us closer together it did the total opposite. And to no fault of his own, because I wanted to be so close to him, I lost focus on being close to the Lord. I focused more on my relationship with Cody than I did my relationship with God. In the end none of it did me any good. I lost that eagerness to learn, to follow the Lord, and unfortunately lost that hope. I slowly but surely started to fall back into that dark place. Total crash and burn. Now I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie War Room but if not I definitely recommend it. In July me and my mom rented the movie and man is it a powerful one! So that movie sparked the Holy Spirit in me and I began to want that close relationship with God again. I started a prayer journal and swore I was going to start reading my daily devotional again and getting back into the Bible. Yeah, that lasted a whole two days. *SIGH* I was really struggling. Looking for answers everywhere but the one true place I would find them. My relationship with Cody was a roller coaster. A constant battle that I never won. So just like I had done with everything else in my life, I decided to give up. Which at the time I thought would be one of the worst things that had ever happened to me, but ended up to be one of the best. After what felt like the billionth time of going back and forth with Cody, we finally decided to call it quits once and for all. Both agreeing that this just wasn’t in the stars for us right now. I’ll never forget the night it happened because I was standing in his driveway, totally losing it, asking why. Why God? What is the point in all of this? Why bring him into my life for things to end up like this? I was completely pissed off if we’re being honest. I cried like a lunatic the whole way home just going over that mantra in my head. Why God, why God, why?! Now that was me hitting rock bottom. I know some might say he’s just a guy, it’s just a relationship, and you’re not totally wrong. However, Cody was the one consistent thing in my life. The one sure thing I thought I had. So when I lost him I started questioning everything again. I pretended to move on trying to convince myself that it just wasn’t meant to be, but also did a little soul searching about the kind of person I was. Unfortunately I was one of those people that focused more on the people in my life and their actions, instead of focusing on my own. I blamed everyone around me, especially Cody, for things that I was guilty for instead. So after my mental breakdown in Cody’s driveway, I started to repent for what I had done. That was me giving it all to Him and saying, you know? You can have it. That, I believe, was the moment He said, “Okay, you’re ready now.”
A couple of weeks later, Stefanie came back to stay with us for Kairos II. My mom had, of course, told her that Cody and I broke up and asked how life was. I looked at her with probably the most pathetic look on my face, shrugged my shoulders, and just said OK. My sister probably knows me better than anyone and knew I wasn’t really OK. We talked later that night about Cody and I told her that I loved him and wished the best for him and maybe someday we would find our way back to each other. Little did I know God was already working on that. A few hours after that conversation as my sister and I were getting ready to go to sleep I got a Facebook notification that Cody had decided to add me back as a friend. You should have seen my face, total shock. Of course, being my big sister, Stefanie told me to absolutely not accept it! But being the stubborn, curious person that I am, I had to. A couple minutes after I accepted his request he poked me. Now let me just tell y’all, our whole relationship started with a Facebook poke, so I knew this poke was not innocent. He later sent me a Snapchat about some nonsense and when I questioned why he was even doing this he couldn’t give me an answer. We talked more and more, me basically telling him hey, I love you but I just don’t think we’re compatible right now, when he totally dropped a bombshell on me. This boy decided to tell me that God needed to be at the center of our relationship. I’m sorry, what? Oh now you think that?! After you’ve fought with me tooth and nail over it?! Now that we’re not together?! What in the actual heck. So I was shocked and totally confused to say the least. I honestly questioned if the cosmos were playing a joke on me, but then I turned to God. Looking up at my dark ceiling asking Him if this was really happening. Was Cody finally coming around? It’s only been like two weeks?! Can things really change in that little amount of time?! Oh boy have I learned that they can. Mind you this was just a couple of weeks ago people! Now, I couldn’t imagine being more on fire for the Lord. Cody wanting to be apart of my spiritual journey was something I had always prayed for. I prayed hard about him finding his way back to the Lord. Ironically, I had jokingly said a couple of days before this happened that I needed some Jesus in my life, and I saw Him in my dreams that night. Literally had a vision of Jesus. It was totally cool. And He showed himself the night Cody texted me. He was saying hey friend, it’s been a while. Let me remind you who I am. Let me remind you what I do. Trust in ME. I mean how can you argue with Jesus? That’s how good He is. He can show Himself in an instant when you need Him the most. But something that I’ve had to learn the hard way is that it’s in His timing, not in mine. I am the type of person that wants everything done my way and I am not by any means a patient person. He has given me a great dose of humility though and reminded me who’s really in control. To be honest, I’m glad to hand over my life to Him. Everything runs a lot smoother when I’m letting Him take care of it. And the truth is my life is a whole lot better with Him than it is without Him.
So what is the point in me writing this ridiculous novel? Well maybe you’re struggling too. Maybe you’re in that dark place and you don’t know how to get out of it. I will let you all in on a little secret, Jesus is the answer. As cliché as that sounds, He is the only way. I’ve been there. I’ve been on both sides of it so I know what it’s like to want to get there but not know how. How do you get into the Bible when you’ve never cracked one open in your life. Fearful of walking into a church and thinking you don’t belong there, like you’re not worthy to be among God’s people. Thinking that there’s no way God could ever love you after all the things you’ve done. That you are just not worth it. My answer to that, of course, is you are. You are SO loved by our God. He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for us so that we could be forgiven. It is still hard for me to wrap my brain around. And actually our little brains can’t even comprehend the amount of love He has for us. He will NEVER turn you away and he will ALWAYS be waiting with open arms. And yes, it’s hard. I really realize that now after my sister and dad told me it months ago. I fell off the wagon and got lost, but once I found my way again there He was, waiting patiently and saying I’ve missed you, let’s get started. So here I am, doing what the Lord has called me to do, share my story, and it doesn’t even end here! We are not alone in this thing called life. Just a couple of days ago I celebrated my half (spiritual) birthday. Yay me! I wish I could say it’s been an easy journey, it hasn’t been, but it’s been so completely worth it. The Lord has changed my life and my relationships with the people around me. I pray and KNOW that He will do the same for you.