I have been wanting to share my testimony for some time now so here it is... It's kind of long so I hope you have your cup of coffee and a comfy chair ready and I hope that reading this will bless you! :0)
God has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, as far back as I can recall, I always prayed before bed and always knew that God was watching over me. I could feel His presence. My mom taught me to pray and I don't remember one night in my entire life that I didn't end the day talking to the Lord before falling asleep.
I was raised in a Catholic family and went to a Catholic school. God was part of my daily life. When I was in the 8th grade, just like most Catholic kids, I began to take classes at school so that I could be confirmed. What that means (in case you don't know) is taking a sort of "oath" which says you yourself choose to be a member of the Catholic church. It is like confirming your baptism which in the Catholic church happens as a baby.
When I began to take these classes my mind became full of questions. Some of the things I was learning and had learned over the years began to make me wonder if Catholicism was the way God wanted me to go in my life. I wondered where I could find the truth about these things. Since my church and school did not advocate reading the Bible I didn't realize that the answers I sought were right within my reach. I didn't think I wanted to be confirmed, but since my parents wanted me to I did. I was 12 years old and knew that I should obey my parents.
All throughout high school I often wished I would visit a different kind of church. I knew that there were other denominations out there but had no idea why they were different from Catholic or what their churches were like. I knew my parents would not approve of me going to any other kind of church so I gave up the idea. I continued to focus on what my goal at the time was. To graduate high school, get a college scholarship and get a "big bad job" making LOTS of money.
I got that scholarship and went on to college. But it was a whole different world from the small Catholic high school that I attended. It was so large and so many different kinds of people and it felt awfully cold and impersonal. Making friends was very difficult for me and I spent the majority of my time alone and lonely. I didn't feel that this was the place that I was supposed to be but I knew what my parents expected and what I had worked so hard for so I continued on my journey. And God continued to call me.
On day my sister and I were shopping at the mall and we met two girls who we found out went to the same college I was attending. After chatting a while we exchanged phone numbers. I thought it was so nice to meet some NICE people and was looking forward to getting to know them better and hopefully become friends.
I got in touch with one of the girls and she invited me to meet with them for a Bible study. I thought that sounded interesting and agreed. When we met they began to show me Bible passages that said that we need to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I really didn't understand how that was different from believing in God so I thanked them but didn't make any sort of commitment based on what they had told me. The continued to call me but my parents thought they were some sort of "religious freaks" and suggested I stay away from them. With all the stress and confusion in my life at the time, I decided to forget about these new girls and just kept on with my life as it was. But God kept on calling me...
After one year of college, I was completely stressed out but still determined to keep my scholarship. A lot was going on in my life aside from school, such as moving to a new home with my family twice and losing my grandfather. It was a tough year. My health was starting to suffer but I ignored it and pressed on towards my goal. Little did I know that God had other plans for me.
At the end of my first year of college I was beginning to prepare for final exams. It was a typical day. My parents were at work, my sister still in high school and I was at home preparing to study. I made my usual cup of coffee (after drinking a can of Pepsi) and was toasting some bread for breakfast. My hardest class was Economics and my grade on the final would mean the difference between me keeping the scholarship of losing it. If I lost it that would mean the end of college for me, at least for a while, until I could find a job and save up money to go back.
I remember that morning so vividly, walking to the toaster to get my toast and all of a sudden my head began to spin and my heart began to pound. It was the scariest thing that had ever happened to me. I felt faint and had no idea what was happening to me. I had a similar episode once before while at school but nothing like this and I was really scared. I called my dad at work and then called 911. I was convinced I was having a heart attack. I had no idea what was going on was a severe panic attack. I had never heard of such a thing and it would be at least 6 months before anyone realized what was going on with me.
No doctors, not the emergency room doctors not my own physician could find anything wrong with me. Yet these episodes kept coming on me daily until a friend of my parents suggest that this could be a psychological issue and that I was having panic attacks. In the meanwhile I became house bound. I was agoraphobic. I missed my exams, lost my scholarship, quit school, lost most all my friends and sunk into an agonizing fatigue and deep depression. I felt like my life was over and no one could help me. I went to a few different counselors and psychologists but the little relief I received would come and go. I was put on medications and tried many kinds of vitamins, amino acids, diet changes, etc. to no avail. I felt stuck and hopeless.
My life had been so bound up in my achievements that I didn't know how to survive as me. Just myself, who I am as a person, not thinking about what I could achieve or who I could compete with. I felt horrible about myself and felt I had let everyone down but I was determined to overcome my situation and return to normal life.
I read all the books I could find on panic attacks, depression and nutrition and slowly I began to feel better, but the panic attacks still came, and usually at the most unexpected and worst moments like when I was driving or in a room full of people. It was frustrating and made me feel more depressed.
One day I picked up a book I had received when I graduated from high school. It was given to me by a family friend and it was a Bible promise book. I began to look up subjects like depression and faith and healing and found so many scriptures to show what God promises us related to those issues. My hope began to return and my faith began to increase. My mom one day told me to "give it all to God" and I began to realized what that meant and began to live it out as I healed.
After a year, I returned to a smaller community college to continue my studies. This is where I met my husband. The thing that really drew me to him was his outgoing personality and he talked about God all the time. My spirit was so hungry for the Lord but I didn't even realize it. I would sit and listen to him talk about God in awe, soaking up all I could of his knowledge of God's Word. I bought myself a Study Bible with lots of footnotes and maps and other things that helped me to study, learn and connect with the Word of God. I began to grow even more and to feel normal again and strong.
I began to realize that although the Catholic church has many people that love the Lord, there is also a lot there that has been added to the Bible. Lots of church doctrine, some of which I have learned was created to "keep church members in line". I didn't want any part of all of that because I knew that God said that nothing should be added unto His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6), I really began again to wish for a church to attend that focused on the Bible and nothing else.
After my husband and I started dating he invited me to visit his church. I was so excited and jumped at the chance. The church he went to was non-denominational and focused entirely on the Bible, the pure Word of God and nothing else. It was there that I learned the truth of Scripture and accepted Jesus sacrifice for me on the cross. I began not only to know the He died for me on the cross but to live for Him as my Lord and Savior. I completely turned my life over to the Lord and have never turned back.
I'm not going to lie and say I have not had any struggles since then. As anyone I have had my ups and downs in life, but I have a peace in my heart that in indescribable. No matter what happens I am content to allow God to lead my life and I no longer strive towards my goals as a human but strive for His goals as my Lord and Creator.
If you don't know Christ as your personal Savior, now is a great time to turn your life over to Him and ask Him into your heart and into your life. Often times life can throw us very hard struggles but the Lord wants us to turn to Him to heal us, to help us grow and to offer us a life with Him eternally if we only accept the sacrifice of His Son.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.