A Guest Post by Emily Louis I used to try…
Here’s a wonderful story from my Christian blogging friend, Patricia, describing how she learned and grew in her faith over the years. You can visit Patricia’s Facebook page at All About Love and her blog.
About Patricia A. Go
I was born in Oak Park, Illinois I have two wonderful, loving and faithful parents who have been married for over 30 years! They have always been there for me through thick and thin. I also have a younger brother who now lives in Texas.
My love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together. I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic. I started my blog on December 23, 2015.
God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry. Also, the situations I find myself in at my day job, God has used to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at Place in the World.
Life had no meaning. I was bored, and because of that and other reasons, I wanted to end it all. Schoolwork was piling up, and I felt like no one really cared about me, except maybe my family.
In one of my diary entries that I wrote on April 9, 1999, when I was still in high school: “I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?”
God didn’t really have a place in my life. My schoolwork and my grades were my idols with what I was trying to fill up that God-shaped hole. I never went to any religious classes, so I also held the commonly-believed notion that I was a good person and that because of this, I would go to heaven if I died.
My family and I rarely went to church, although I wanted to go more, but generally, I felt I was okay. But in Jr. High School until my sophomore year at high school, I felt more and more depressed. After that, I felt a little happier and found solace in music, but after a while, I just knew that wasn’t going to really satisfy me for long.
When a friend invited me to a Bible study, I decided to attend just to see what would happen and to make her happy.
When I went into the Bible study at school, I felt stupid for not knowing what the others had already known. I knew then that I had to know more about Christianity and Jesus Christ.
While I started to listen to Christian music, I began to have a legalistic attitude towards things.
I began to judge those who listened to explicit music and ‘NSYNC as “bad” and “against God and all things good.” I became very hypocritical online and started cursing and swearing to those online (especially the ‘NSYNC fans and those that made fun of Christianity and Christian music.). Worse yet, one of the bad messages I wrote at the site became a featured message on that site. I don’t really think I was a Christian at the time, or I was still very young and uninformed in my faith.
It was sometime after this incident, in my bedroom, after dinner one evening, that I first accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and I was saved.
This, by far, had the biggest influence on me.
The Happening was a church program for teens and young adults where they held weekend retreats for the purpose of growing and exploring our spirituality.
There, I learned how to hug and how to really love and show compassion to others.
I learned that the type of music a person listens to is not reasonable grounds for judgment or condemnation.
I learned it’s the personality and the godliness of a person that really matters.
God led me to be actively involved in Happening activities, and later, at school, with aiding for a teacher and disabled students. It was during these times that though I had accepted Christ, Satan first planted doubts in my mind about my salvation.
My first semester at college was almost a disaster. I felt like I had no friends and that I should maybe drop out of school. People who were friends with me before were slowly distancing themselves from me. They got tired of me because I was always depressed and sick.
I felt utterly hopeless except that God was with me. I felt alone.
When I went to Praise and Worship the next semester, I felt a renewal in my faith and in Christ (Thanks to you all.) Again, I started to realize I needed God and to take him more seriously, instead of going to self-pity or self-centeredness.
I gained an interest in knowing more about my specific faith group. I enjoyed talking about my faith with others.
Dave Burchett’s Book
I accidentally came across Dave Burchett’s book “When Bad Christians Happen To Good People” one day when I was looking in the SWAN catalog (An online search catalog that enables one to borrow things from other libraries in a certain area), but, as it turned out, it was the best book I had ever read.
God has taught me a lot through this book. It taught me what genuine Christianity really was, and why forcing faith on or ridiculing non-Christians never works.
While I was growing in my faith outside of a formal church service, I felt I wasn’t really growing in the church I went to. Also, I felt I really didn’t know as much as the others at church. I felt bored and cynical towards the church because of this.
I felt most people (including me) were only going to go through the motions there. Despite my friends’ urges that I stay in the Church (and I respect their beliefs), I didn’t feel like it really fit me.
I went to a church in another denomination for about three years. At first, I really liked it. But as time went on, it was apparent to me that this church wasn’t a good fit for me. Also, I didn’t feel the sermons challenged me enough anymore.
Then I went to a different church. I think they emphasize the need for salvation from our sins and the cross, which in my previous two churches was not emphasized as much.
The pastor and his wife left this congregation to pursue church planting and other ministries in 2008. We had THE BEST interim pastor the church could have had at the time. He and his wife really helped our congregation through a particularly trying time and imparted his wisdom to the pastor at the church at the time.
At first, I didn’t trust the pastor, but as time grew, he and his wife proved to be not only very trustworthy but also two of the most humble and genuine Christians I had ever met in my whole life!
However, he left after being called to be a pastor in Maryland . . . and our congregation became absorbed by my previous church I attended, and many people (and I) felt we had to leave. I left after about 10 years being there.
It was very painful and trying for me, as I had to leave a lot of people, but I felt that God had other plans for me.
In 2014, one day when I was working at my previous job, I suddenly had intense sharp pains in my back and side. My family and I thought they were just muscle pains from lifting heavy things. (This job involved some heavy lifting, and if any of you have met me in person, you know that I am quite small physically!)
One Friday, I got home from work and started to have diarrhea, chills, and fever, accompanied by the side and back pain. I knew I was in trouble the next day when I started to vomit blood.
At this point, I had already tried many over-the-counter medications and other relief agents, but none of them worked. I had to call off work that day and go to the emergency room (ER). Immediately!
Going to the ER
When I went to the ER, after many hours and many tests, and even an ultrasound, the doctors/nurses/surgeons/technicians discover two main things:
1) My gall bladder was inflamed and twice the size it should have been!
2) I had several gallstones! Surgery to remove my gall bladder was scheduled the next day.
I couldn’t sleep at all the previous night because of the stomach pains and diarrhea that occurred about every two hours. However, by the time I had the surgery, I was exhausted. The surgery couldn’t come soon enough!
Just before surgery, they gave me medications to induce sleep, and I was out in about two minutes. I woke up a couple of hours later, my body shaking a little, but quickly it calmed down with medication.
I had trouble walking at a normal pace for the first few days after surgery and I had trouble keeping food down. However, afterward I was basically fine.
At work, under doctors’ orders, I was not allowed to lift more than 5-10 pounds (about a gallon of milk) for a month after surgery. However, I did get a point (point=punishment, closer to getting fired) for calling off to go to the ER the day I went.
If that gallbladder had burst, and I had waited longer to go to the ER, I would have most likely not been here.
God suddenly reminded me of this event recently after I watched the movie, Miracles From Heaven, and I remembered the quote about living as if everything were a miracle.
Truly, everyone I have met, especially those that I have known for less than three years or helped me through my illness are a testament to my miraculous life!
Now, I go to a church in a different denomination than my previous one. It’s very different from my previous one, but still good.
I have met some very good people here and the pastor’s sermons and Bible studies are very good and biblical. His son (also a pastor at the church) helped me to have a more fulfilling devotional time with my God.
God is also using people at my current church and my time with Him (God) to help serve people at my job as a sales associate.
Epiphany of Grace
Although I have been a Christian for a while, it has only been recently that I finally understood some part of what grace was.
I knew intellectually that it was unmerited favor given by God to save us from Hell via His sacrificing Jesus on the cross.
However, I didn’t know how it was supposed to impact one’s life very well, that is until I watched the movie “The Other Man,” which showed me the consequences of idolatry, and especially read the book “Jesus +Nothing=Everything,” and had a dream that I realized what grace was.
I realized I needed to forgive people that I felt hurt me in the past.
More than that, I realized I was free. Free of the worry about what other people thought of me because His is the only opinion that matters above all else. Free of the worry about my future because I know God will take care of me. Free of bitterness and unforgiveness because I know God will make things right in His perfect timing and that He will heal all my hurts.
In his book, “Jesus +Nothing=Everything,” Tullian Tchividjian says “Because of the gospel we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, to prove ourselves to people, to make people think we are something that we are not.” This is because I have security in that God still loves me even when I miss the mark (i.e. Sin) and even though I know I don’t deserve to enter heaven or even His presence.
And God doesn’t love me more or less depending on how “good” I am to Him because He doesn’t see my imperfections, but Jesus’ perfection! I am free to be me without reservation!
I don’t need to worry about earthly things anymore because I have an even greater better life waiting for me on the other side with Him and because even here He is still with me.
That is the gospel!
But I’m still not perfect, of course, just forgiven. I still battle pride and occasional thoughts of revenge-particularly against those I hear on the news that abuse children. However, I also learned that the world is not my real home and how to be more caring and compassionate to those who feel lost, alone, rejected, ridiculed, and abused as well as to everyone else.
Learn More about Patricia and Her Writings
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