I haven’t known this friend for a long time, but we have gotten to know each other quickly. I really appreciate her willingness to serve others and her genuine care for those around her. I hope you are as encouraged by her testimony as I am.
Redeemed by the King
I grew up in Lincoln, NE and even though I was an only child, pretty much all of my extended family lived in Lincoln. It did get lonely at times but I had a lot of cousins around that kept me busy. My immediate family and extended family didn’t have much of a religious background. My grandparents on my mom side were familiar with Catholicism but didn’t really practice or pursue it. Growing up I did go to Sunday school at a Methodist church every now and then with some of my cousins. We would get dropped off and then picked up by our parents after Sunday school was done. Our families never stayed for the actual service that was held after. I stopped going around 4th or 5th grade because they no longer let us sing songs at the start of Sunday school. I really enjoyed all the kid songs that we would sing and all the fun actions that went along with them. I don’t remember the gospel ever being shared while we went. We pretty much just did fun little crafts and activities that went along with a Bible story. I remember my cousin and I acted out a lot because we just didn’t care. Even though I no longer went there for Sunday school my parents and I would still occasionally go back to that church for their Christmas Eve service. We did that until I reached high school and again I just enjoyed the candle lighting and singing the songs. My family would sit in the back of the church whenever we would go and wouldn’t really pay attention to the actual message even though it was a short message. At the church I think they would talk more about loving one another instead of actually saving faith, but like I said my parents and I wouldn’t really listen to the message. Instead, we would joke, nudge each other, or talk quietly during the lesson.
In school and growing up I was always a pretty good kid, tried to get good grades, and stay out of trouble up until around the time I got my license. My friend and I started getting into a little mischief during our sophomore year and decided to try marijuana for the first time with some other friends. I remember not feeling any different after and wondering what the hype was. Later on, I was told that is pretty common. So we decided to try it again and again till we started to just make new friends that were into the same things. Some went to our high school and others went to a different high school, my friend and I were cheerleaders and we didn’t have much of a difficult time meeting and making new friends. Most of the new “friends” we found and hung around were guys, of course, guys who were willing to give out their stuff for free. We also knew some other older cheerleaders that liked to party and by this time most of my older cousins were doing drugs and skipping school. We ended up getting hooked, but at this point, I think we just enjoyed being around different people all the time and not hooked on the drug itself. We just liked to have fun and thought we were just “enjoying life”. Our “fun” didn’t last too long before we started getting caught by our parents. They would either catch us in our lies, smell it on us, or start to see a change in the way we acted. None of it stopped us, we thought we could continue to get away with it. So we kept lying and sneaking around.
The beginning of our Junior year we kept at it and of course kept getting caught. We got caught at school with the drugs and we were suspended for a little while. Soon after that, my friend’s parents decided to transfer her to another school. We did everything together. She was my best friend and we hung out every day after school. I was already labeled as a druggie at school so I felt like I had no one. I decided to live up to that label and from that point on I just went downhill. I got in with an older even worse crowd at school. I continued smoking marijuana and kept getting into harder and harder drugs. I started sleeping around with guys that I didn’t even care about. I felt that all these things would make me feel happy. I fell into a depressed state to the point where I wasn’t even afraid to die, it was almost like I preferred it. I was officially no longer doing it just to “have fun”. I became slightly dependent on it to help me not care about what was going on in my life. I would constantly pick fights with my parents. They had no control over what I was doing. I would run away during the weekend and then come back Monday morning for school. I ended up just skipping classes altogether. My parents tried hard to help me get back on track but I was so blinded and selfish in my way of thinking. I thought I needed all those things and I didn’t want my parents to be in control. I was trying to make sure I was in control.
One day my parents took away my keys again and found my hiding spot for my phone and I, of course, tried to be in control and take back what I thought was mine. We all got into a bad argument and fought to the point where things got physical. I locked myself in my room and decided to throw things and trash it. I made the decision to run away for good, so I packed a few things and snuck out for the last time. With no phone and no car, I managed to find my friends and stayed anywhere someone would let me. It was horrible, not having a bed and sometimes having to just sleep on the floor of the house that I was partying at. It amazes me how stupid and stubborn I was but I stopped going to school completely and was just doing whatever I wanted. But I got caught and I had to stay with my grandparents.
After staying with my grandparents for a little while, I started thinking about what I was doing to myself and to my family. I decided to seek help and knew I wanted to change. I reached out to my parents and around November of my Junior year they decided to send me to a small private school near our house. It was hard but I slowly got away from those old friends and drugs. At my new school, I immediately saw a difference in the way this school worked and I was curious to know more. It was a private Christian school and they held Bible class every Tuesday and Thursday, then chapel was every Wednesday. I got to know my science teacher and started asking her questions about the Bible and why they acted differently. She really took me under her wing and to this day has been one of the biggest influences of my life. She would have me come to her room every Tuesday and Thursday during Bible class and just talk to me about the good news of the gospel over and over again. She always had her Bible ready for any question that came to my mind and always brought me back to the scripture with answers to my questions.
She was continually there for me and when we were going through the gospel together she told me “I know you know all this now, you understand what it means to be born again. You have told me you know you are a sinner, but you just have to get past that and give up your own will and believe all of it.” I went to my study period after our conversation listening to music like always. I had my Bible open and really started to pray and ask do I really understand? Do I believe? About minutes before the bell rang, I completely broke down in tears, I couldn’t control my emotions. I ran to her classroom still in tears and told her “I don’t know why I’m crying but I’m so happy” she knew what was going on and she told me we need to go around the school and profess! Thanks to the willingness of my science teacher and the Lord Jesus Christ, seven days before school was out on May 3rd, 2011 the Lord opened my eyes to the Truth that she had been talking to me about. While going around professing to anyone and everyone at school, I just felt completely weightless. I was on a cloud and remember thinking no drug or guy could ever bring me so much joy. I will never forget that feeling, I even went home that day and professed to my parents after school, and many of my family members.
Talk about a great way to end my junior year, but the Lord was not done with me yet. That summer I thought I was perfect and everything was going to be perfect…. boy, did I have some learning to do! That summer was a bit of a struggle, but the Lord was with me and guiding me. I made some horrible choices that summer because even though I was saved, I still wanted to do my own will not the Lords. I thought I just got a free ticket to heaven and no longer had to follow any rule or do anything more. I went back to lying to my parents and sneaking out with guys that weren’t Christians not thinking it was a big deal. Then a believing guy from my school that I liked started talking to me and helped show me what an actually born again Christian should look like and began taking me to church. We dated for about 6 months and then our relationship ended during our senior year. After that, I did stumble a bit and stopped going to church. I became friends with a girl who transferred to our school and got into my old ways with her, went back to drugs a couple of times, but things were different this time. After we smoked I would feel so guilty that I would throw up and feel sick to my stomach, that’s when I knew I was growing and things would be different.
I didn’t really start growing and understanding until I opened up to my science teacher and she told me the importance of going to church and going to a good church. The church I went to wasn’t bad but their lessons were topical and as a new believer with no church background, it was very hard for me to learn from that style of teaching. I thought I could take any Bible verse and make it into what I thought it was saying. I justified things I did by picking and choosing verses. She also explained the importance of doing my own studies from the Bible, which I did, but my “studies” was just opening to whatever page I opened to and pointed to a verse. From there I would start reading but wasn’t understanding what I was reading because I didn’t understand the context of the text. My heart was not in the right places either, I was looking for things that I wanted to hear. I wasn’t allowing God to use His word to work in me. She got me connected into a good church that had a high school group and did verse by verse style of teaching. Her whole family went to this church and her son was a grade below me and was also in the high school group. Her whole family was a huge impact on my growth during this time. I appreciate all their work and sacrifices they did just to make sure I was growing and learning.
Things at home started to get harder and harder. My parents saw my change and were happy that I did a 180 but they didn’t understand why I was wanting to be so involved with this church. My extended family also saw a change but everyone all thought (and still think) it was because of the school and the teachers. They don’t recognize it was all the Lord’s work and His plan even though I had shared the gospel with them multiple times. I talked to my teacher and we knew that after senior year I needed to figure out a way to get connected with other college ladies of the church or something and get out of the leadership of my parents’ house so I could follow what God wanted me to do more freely. That is when I met my now husband at a fall retreat through the college group at our church. We soon started dating and a year later we got married in July of 2013. I’m so thankful the Lord brought him into my life. It is such a joy being lead under a Godly man.
It is amazing how the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. A year after our marriage the Lord knew we needed our first daughter in our lives. We were scared but the Lord provided everything we needed and He still does now. Through the pregnancy and after she was born, it was all a huge growing point for me. I realized that I really needed to be constantly working on myself and letting the Lord work on me from the inside out. I’m so thankful for my husband and children! The Lord is growing and changing me every day through them.
I wish I never had to reach such a breaking point in my life to find Christ, but I’m so glad He was there and had me in His plan. My husband and I have now been married for 5 years, we have our oldest daughter who is 3, our second daughter who is 16 months and we have been blessed with another baby, a little boy that we get to meet December of this year.
I know who I was, and I know who I am now, and that is a change that only God can do. We are all sinners who are selfish in our ways, causing us to head down a path of death and destruction. The Bible says there is “none righteous” and the “penalty for sin is death”. Thankfully God sent his Son to earth to pay that penalty for us by dying on the cross. All we have to do is recognize our sin and give our lives to Him, knowing that it should have been us dying on that cross. It’s my prayer that my testimony can help lead someone to follow Christ so they can be filled with the Holy Spirit and also live their life for Him. What a blessing it is to have such a loving and caring God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Sincerely, a wife, mother, and follower of Christ