It's been an heart wrenching, and heart lifting day for me. During church this morning I came to the heartbreaking realization that I have never accepted Jesus into my heart. I did that today. I prayed that God would open my heart, allow me to accept His gift (of salvation) that he has freely given me, and to take away the heavy burdens I carry.
This song was sung... and it was exactly what I needed:
I went back and forth about writing this post... part of me didn't want to write something so personal... but I think someone out there may come across it just when they need to. Plus, I hope you can be happy with me! I warn you.... it is long. lol
I am not positive, but part of me wants to say that it is almost as dangerous to grow up in church as it is to have never been exposed to God, church, Salvation. It may be more dangerous... this is a deep subject and I'd have to give it more thought. I'm sure people would argue either way. I'll just start out with my story....
For as long as I can remember, I have gone to church. Many people share their testimonies and can give an exact time when they first heard of Jesus and salvation. They have a life altering moment where they turn their lives over and they never look back. I never had that. It seems that I've always known.
I was baptized when I was around 9. I barely remember the experience and I'm pretty sure I only did it cause I wanted to be baptized like everyone else. In all my years, I don't think I've ever believed that I was baptized for the right reasons.
When I was 15, my friend, her brother, and I went to a Christian summer camp. It was awesome. During one of the events we all gathered around a huge campfire... people shared their hearts, people gave their hearts to Jesus, people stood to be prayed with. I didn't stand, but I clearly remember wanting to. I have always been self-conscious... and during this campfire time I realized that God is all that matters. No one else's opinion matters in all the world. Nothing else matters (in the end) except God and an individuals relationship with him! I felt great. I felt free and open. I acted differently, because for a while I really lived like that was all that mattered. This is the time that I have always believed that I was saved. That was my testimony.
Then, enter the real world when I left the shelter (figurative) of home. Through high school and college I strayed. Besides my own admission that I was a Christian, no one would have guessed. I will not go into detail, because all that is not important. I will only say that I acted in ways that only God and I know. I lost my way in college. When I think back on my college days, I honestly don't think I was in my right mind. I pretty much quit college, and was forced to go home and tell my parents that they would not be seeing me graduate. It was all very traumatic. During a church service after I was back home, the pastor gave a message on being a cracked clay pot. The potter must break down the clay, moisten and remold the pot. That was me, I cried as I did a lot in those days. I thought, "That's what has happened. God had to break me all the way down and now he's building me back up. I strayed so far, this was the only way he could fix me."
From that time on, I was convinced I was changed. I really got into church, being active and serving. I listened to only Christian music. I stopped doing things I had done in the past. I really was trying to be a good Christian. It wasn't an act. I have struggled with being myself though. Around my church family, I would struggle between just letting go and being myself and being secure in the fact that I was saved even if I didn't say all the right things. I felt I had to act and be perfect. I wasn't of course, and I was constantly letting myself down. Every Sunday, when our pastor would give the invitation, I would say the prayer silently. Just in case. One day, as I was talking to my husband (obviously years have gone by at this point :-), I told him this whole story. He told me that I needed to be saved. I told him he was crazy....but inside I thought maybe he was right. But I was saved right? How could I not be? Sometimes after that he would nudge me during the invitation, but I would smile at him and nudge back as if he were joking. What would everyone think if after all this time I wasn't saved? What will my parents think? Don't judge.... I'm just telling you the truth! This is how my mind worked!
Right now we are looking for a new church since we just moved back to NC. We tried out a new one this morning. We decided to try this one because 1) they looked as though they had recently expanded their building which means they were growing and 2) it was close to our house. Before church, I looked up their website really quick and it reminded me of the last two churches we tried since we've been here and I decided I didn't want to try that church anymore. However, through a series of events we ended up going to this church anyways. I got out of our van still not wanting to go. It was only a few minutes into the praise and worship that my mind started reeling thought after thought after thought. Until my ultimate realization. I needed Jesus IN my heart, not my mind. That is the reason I am never satisfied. That is why I am constantly exhausted. I try to control everything and when I can't I break down. My load was TOO heavy and I needed to give it all away. I wanted that joy that comes from knowing that I am redeemed. ALL my sins are washed away and I don't have to think back on what might have been, beating myself up for bad decisions. Jesus is there waiting for me to just let Him love me! I just had to finally let go!