“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Personal stories have impacted my life tremendously. Some call them testimonies – stories of courage in the face of great devastation, stories of hope when despair sought to overcome the heart, stories of trust, faith, and love. Many times those stories were used in my life to propel me forward in my walk with the Lord. There is power in personal stories because they’re relatable, and it’s often in hearing another’s story that we’re reminded of the truth that we’re not alone. Someone somewhere has walked down this road before me and has gone through what I’m facing now and in realizing that, I can find hope.
Recently, I was challenged by the girls in my small group to meditate on and memorize Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Now in context, this was meant to encourage me to guard my tongue and refuse to continue to allow my emotions to get the best of me. However, I can also see another way this verse can be applied in our lives in light of sharing our stories with others. When we choose to boast on how the Lord has worked in our lives, it brings Him glory and points others to Him. It gives grace to those who hear. Don’t you want to be one that gives grace whenever you open your mouth?
Her story today is one that displays trusting in the LORD. Every reason was given to her to turn from God, yet she leaned on Him that much more, trusting that He alone is faithful and His promises are true. My prayer today is that Her Story will be used in such a way in your life to illuminate Jesus Christ and His power to overcome every obstacle, every hardship.
I’ll just start at the beginning. She was raised in a Catholic home. Now, when I say Catholic, I mean mostly by association, not necessarily dedication. Without a strong foundation of faith on either side of her family, once she was confirmed, she was free to make the choice to stay in the church or leave. She chose the latter. Her teenage years were filled with drinking, drugs, and the like. Her home life was difficult with the effects of verbal abuse and alcoholism running its course. She sought solace elsewhere. Shortly after high school graduation, she left without much of a goodbye or even an indication of where she was going. She pursued love, religions of all kinds, drugs, men….anything that could fill the emptiness inside.
In her attempts to run from everything including God, God pursued her. She had a few near death experiences, some due to her own poor choices and yet others that were completely out of her control. Yet, mercy and grace were with her. God’s hand was on her even when she was completely unaware of his presence. In the midst of her wild pursuit of all the world had to offer, she met a man named Jesus. I love how she tells the story so much more, but I’ll attempt to do it justice. She was in the middle of a blizzard with her best friend, and they ended up at a hotel. They walked inside to get out of the storm, and two young men were at the bar. They struck up a conversation, and it quickly led to talk of this Jesus. They shared the gospel with her, and invited her into a life of faith with Him. She left the bar, and went back to the car to try and brave the storm. Running again. As they drove what appeared to be away from the hotel, just a short time later they ended up right back at the door. At this point convinced that someone was trying to get her attention, she went back inside and through more conversation and prayer with these two men, she began her faith journey with the Lord that night.
Hers is a story of dramatic change. She immediately gave up drugs, drinking, and her life of sin and never turned back. The way she describes it is as if God took away her sinful cravings for those things that night when He gave her a new heart. She was never going to be the same. Although she radically walked away from her life of sin, hardship and trials did not leave her. She went on to marry a few years later and have 3 children. Just about all 12 years of her marriage were difficult. Feeling trapped in an abusive relationship that turned adulterous, she leaned in closer to Jesus, and I’ve never seen a faith so strong. I’ve never seen a life so devoted to the Lord in the middle of intense trial. She trusted in the Lord. When every earthly thing around her failed her and life as she knew it crumbled around her, she trusted the Lord. The marriage ended, and she went on to raise her three children on her own for the most part, trying to fill the roles of both mom and dad. There were many times when she had no idea how the bills were going to get paid and where the rent was going to come from, but she never stopped trusting in the Lord. Despite her own needs, she loved fiercely, and gave of herself constantly. There was never a time that she and her children went without what they needed. God faithfully was their provision, their portion. She raised her children to know and love the Lord, to be forgiving and full of grace towards others, and to live a life that is worthy of the calling. She constantly lived in such a way that her faith in Jesus Christ was always evident. It was not uncommon for her children to find her in the Word and on her knees. She was devoted to the Lord, no matter what life brought her way.
She continues to live daily for the glory of God and the betterment of His people. She gives freely of herself to others without reservation. She is a faithful prayer warrior, always on her knees for others. She’s eager to share her hope in Christ with everyone she encounters. My life would not be the same without her. She showed me what it looks like to love God with all your heart. She exemplified forgiveness. She modeled grace. Her story is one that I pray impacts future generations. Her story has definitely impacted mine. Her story is the story of my mom.
Mom, I love you. I cherish you. There has been no greater example for me of a life of trusting in the Lord than you. Your life has been filled with trials, hardships, and pain, but it’s a life that has not been lived in vain. You are so loved. I am blessed beyond measure to be your daughter. These verses embody my thoughts that I can’t begin to capture into words, so I’ll just resort to the greatest text there is: God’s Word.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6