Monday, March 12, 2007

Perspective

As you all know by now, this blog isn't about me. It's about Emma and for Emma. There are several reasons for that -- but that's an entirely different post.

Anyway, once in a while I do like to throw in a little Mommyland entry so that Emma knows a little something about me: What I was like at this point in my life and what brought me here. It's fun writing about our nutty little adventures and showing off her cute smile, but at the end of the day, I want Emma to know that I wanted more for her... so much more.

One of the greatest joys I have experienced with her recently is hearing her say two words she has practically taught herself: Amen ("Ahhman") and Jesus. She's also started folding her hands in prayer like some of the children in her books. I cannot tell you how much happiness this brings me. My heart runneth over.

Seeing her do these things certainly puts things in perspective. I recently attended a MOPS meeting at church, and the speaker talked about not sweating the small stuff and keeping perspective. And while I definitely need to learn how to let go of the small stuff, I also realized that it's nice to take a step back and focus on the big stuff every now and then. I need to do that.

As I look over this blog, I enjoy its light-hearted nature, but I also see it may be lacking a bit of substance. I don't like fluff, yet I often feel I don't have time to really get into some of the topics I want to write about, so I don't. Today I am vowing to change that... when I can.

I'm starting out by sharing my testimony. If the greatest thing I want for Emma is salvation, then I need to start by sharing my story. Or at least part of it. I plan on having many conversations with her about my walk with the Lord, but I have a feeling the story will change as I get older and as I experience more as a mother, a wife and a woman.

So here is my story. It's actually from a short article I wrote for our "Meet a Leader" section of our youth group newsletter, so it isn't perfect, but it is accurate. I certainly could have spent more time on it, but then I remembered—it's not about me. It's not about my writing or how I tell the story. It's about God.

And that is one thing I want Emma to know first and foremost.


A writer by trade, I feel I should warn you that this little testimony of mine might get long. I'll do my best to stick to the "good stuff," but editing God's work down to a few paragraphs is not an easy task.

I'll start by saying that I've been going to church my whole life. However, I have certainly not been a Christian my whole life. In fact, it's really only been about 8 years since I gave my life to Jesus.

Growing up, I was raised Methodist. My Mom's entire family was raised with that religion and since my Dad really didn't "practice" his Catholic religion, Methodism was the winner. My mom was very adamant about us going to church EVERY Sunday morning, and I remember being very irritated by that. I hated getting up in the morning, especially when I had a sleepover with my girlfriends. All of my friends attended Catholic churches and only went to Saturday services, so I was the only one who had to get up at the crack of dawn after a night of no sleep. Basically, church was just an annoying "thing" I had to do on Sunday.

The particular church I went to was what I like to call a "Good News" church. In other words, there was not a whole lot of talk about sin or Satan. And I don't remember learning anything about a personal relationship with Jesus. In fact, we talked a lot about God, but not Jesus. The focus was on good works. If you were a good person, went to church, and did the "right" things, you went to Heaven. It all sounded good to me, and I did just that. I followed the rules. I was honest. And I tried to be responsible. Simple enough.

But then my Mom changed everything. She left our church because she didn't like some of the political stances the church was starting to take. At first, I was happy we didn't have a church anymore—I could sleep in! But then she started to attend Bible studies and told us she was "born again." She talked about her faith ALL THE TIME and tried to "sell" it to us every opportunity she had. I thought she was a religious nut case.

As the years went by, I started to jump on the "politically correct" bandwagon. I didn't think any one religion was correct, and I embraced the freedoms of our country. I felt no one had a right to tell me what was right and wrong, especially as a woman. In high school, I even went on a talk show as a pro-choice advocate. Although I wouldn't admit it at the time, this was the probably the first time I can remember God revealing Himself to me. Believe it or not, the entire audience was filled with youth groups. And yes, they were all pro-life. Needless to say, I was the minority in that room, and they let me know it.

From that point on, I really started to see God in my life. During college, I swear I was approached at least 20 times to join campus Bible studies. It felt like there was a blinking target on my forehead that said, "Bug me, please!" But then two more events happened that changed my life forever.

The first was a textbook in my History of Economics class. Yes, this class was as boring as it sounds. History AND Economics molded into one very long class given by a very old professor that could barely move his mouth to speak. Anyway, the opening line to this textbook was this: "Ever since man came down from the trees…."

Being the independent woman that I was, I got completely ticked off that this book assumed evolution was truth. Many arguments with my mother revealed to me that it was a theory, just like creation. So when the time came to pick a topic for my first college term paper, I chose to argue that creationism should be taught as a theory in public schools. The interesting part of this was that my English professor was a very outspoken atheist. This made me even more determined to heavily research the topic to make sure I had all my bases covered. God is certainly clever. I got an A+ on that paper.

And then I met Jeff—an extremely good-looking guy that also happened to be one of the sweetest men I ever met. He wasn't like the other guys I knew. There was something different about him. He loved his family more than anything, and I admired that. Sure, he had his faults, but he was "cool" AND believed in God. He drove a white sports car AND he went to church. He hung out with his friends AND spent Sundays with his family. And he wasn't embarrassed to tell me about his faith. He was proud of it.

A few weeks after we started dating, Jeff invited me to Calvary. At first, I was hesitant, but after a few deep talks, I decided to go. And that's when I got hooked.

Slowly but surely, I became more interested in this relationship with Jesus I heard Pastor Howard talk about. I longed for the warmth I felt around Jeff and his family. I wanted to KNOW I was going to Heaven some day.

But it was a hard road for me. Pride tried really hard to get in the way, and it took me a long time to understand and accept the idea of God's grace. To receive love simply because I trusted—not because of anything I did or achieved—was not easy.

My biggest question was how did you know you really were "saved"? Jeff would tell me it was this "feeling." I wanted this feeling, but I couldn't grasp how to get it. I can remember many nights of asking God what I needed to do.

As I waited for my answer, I did what I thought was right—I volunteered at church, I prayed, and I talked to Jeff and my Mom about it. After a few years, I gradually began to accept God's grace. There wasn’t a magic light bulb moment or anything; it was just a long, gradual process.

Looking back, I now know that the answer I was searching for was actually right in front of me the whole time. The fact is, once I gave my heart to Christ, I was "in." Nothing else I did or said would change that. I am called to act like Christ and do good works in His name, but I can't earn His love. I have come to accept that the gift of salvation is free. You simply need to ask for it.

7 comments:

The Flip Flop Mamma! said...

Great post! I've often thought about sharing my testamony, but haven't so far. Thanks for sharing yours!

Mama C-ta said...

Thanks for writing this. It was actually something that I've been meaning to ask you since I do remember when you were the one complaining you had to get up after our sleepovers! I need that "feeling" especially right now.

Mama C-ta said...

BTW - it was great reading about some of the time I missed during those years we lost touch. It's funny reading about your feelings then, which are so similar to mine now. You're just more advanced than me - I'll get there :)

Mommy Brain said...

Thanks for sharing...I think it's so important to retell the story of God's faithfulness in our lives...what do you mean by writer by trade? Probably everbody else knows, but I don't.

Heaven Sent said...

Writing and editing is what I do after hours when I'm not being a mommy. :o)

Jen said...

Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing!

And BTW, speaking as someone who grew up in the church, there were times after sleepovers I hated getting up too! :-)

one hot momma said...

Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Generations will be blessed by you Lisa, God has promised that to you. You are faithful to Him and your daughter and her daughters and their daughters will know the blessings of your faithfulness.

Um, I didn't know you were a writer "by trade". Can we talk? I know that Mommy Brain and Carol will be asking for me if I don't. I'll probably be calling you in the next few days to chat if that's ok.

Again, thanks for sharing your faith journey with us.