I think I’ve told pieces of the story of how I became born again in various entries but never as an entry by itself so perhaps it’s time.
I was raised a Christian.
My mother believed in God but she didn’t go to church for reasons unknown to me. She did, however, arrange for me and my sisters to be picked up each week to attend Sunday school. When I became a teenager I was too old to attend Sunday school so I was invited to help out in Sunday school teaching the young ones. I don’t know if they tried to get me to go to church or just moved me straight from attending Sunday school to helping run it but I went each week because I was in the habit of going.
At about 14 years of age I became sexually active and felt it was no longer appropriate for me to be a Sunday school teacher so I stopped having any contact with the church. I didn’t stop believing in God. I just felt He would not approve of me any more and I drifted away from Him.
It was the start of a downward spiral.
I ran away from home for the first time at age 14 because I realised the boy to whom I had given my virginity didn’t care about me at all.
He kept trying to share me, sexually, with his male friends and cousins by setting me up. He would initiate sex with me while a male friend or cousin was hiding somewhere in the room watching us and, when he was done, the friend or cousin would come out from hiding and try to get his “turn” with me. I would have to fight them off and he would get mad at me for making him look like he couldn’t keep his promises to them.
His attitude to me was in stark contrast to how he acted towards another girl in the neighbourhood. She was a good Christian girl who wouldn’t let him touch her sexually and people kept telling me how much he loved her. I think my first runaway episode was triggered by hearing him warn one of the boys he had been willing to share me with to stay away from her or he’d punch him. It was the first time I admitted to myself that he didn’t really care about me and I just wanted the pain to stop. I figured the best way to make the pain stop was to get away from the source of that pain – him.
So, at 14, I ran away but I didn’t get far. I ended up in a park where I met the daughter of a priest. She took me home with her and told her dad I was a runaway. He contacted my mother and that was the end of that episode.
Once I started running away it became a habit. It was easier to run away than deal with things. If I had a fight with someone or felt unhappy I ran away. I ended up hitch hiking all up and down the eastern side of Australia from Melbourne at the bottom to Brisbane up the top. During those times I tried my hand at prostitution and drug use, was raped and gang raped, tried to kill myself and became a very lost, unhappy, promiscuous young woman.
I withdrew into myself more and more as I came to feel that I was worthless and unlovable. I had always had trouble trusting people but my experiences with the predators on the streets left me unable to trust anyone. Not even God or myself.
The only goal I had for my life was to end it as soon as possible. As for God, I wasn’t sure I believed he existed any more but, if he did exist, I was positive he didn’t care about me at all and never would.
From my first sexual encounter at age 14 through to age 19 when I become pregnant I made no effort to avoid pregnancy but God was merciful and did not give me a child until I was more able to cope than I would have been at 14. When I found out I was pregnant I put my plans for suicide on hold and had the baby because I wanted someone, anyone, to love me and I thought a baby would.
I was wrong. Babies take love. They can’t give it until they are much older and there was nobody in my life who could help me with this job I had no idea how to perform.
So there I was with a newborn baby, no support, and suffering every night from nightmares that kept me from getting the sleep I needed. As a result of sleep deprivation and ignorance about how to be a good parent I started losing my temper with my infant son.
Sometimes, when he woke me from what little sleep I was able to get, I would slap him and other times I would scream at him until police arrived in response to reported concern for my son. I knew I was doing badly by my precious little boy. I wanted, with all my heart, to do better but I had no idea where to even begin. I was drowning in despair and defeat.
At that time in my life I was in the habit of reading through the night to avoid having nightmares. I used to go and buy second hand books for just a few cents each and read until daylight.
One night I read a book called “Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey. I can’t recall anything about the book apart from one thing. It said that Jesus died for my sins many years ago, before I was even born, therefore he died for all the sins I have ever committed as well as all the ones I am going to commit in the future!
I didn’t know much but I was pretty certain there was no chance of me being able to stop sinning so this hit home.
My life was a shambles and I was desperate. I told God I wasn’t sure if he even existed but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a chance to convince me he existed and cared about me. I prayed the prayer in the book and invited Jesus to take control and that was that. I didn’t feel any different but it was the start of a lot of wonderful changes in my life!
I have always resisted “normal” Christianity. I didn’t go to church more than a few times because I didn’t trust the people I found there. I tried reading the bible when I first became born again but I didn’t like the tone of the Old Testament. I found it stuffy, offensive to women, and blood thirsty.
I managed to get baptized and healed during my brief encounters with regular church going but I avoided people who tried to tell me that God expected more from me than to just let him love me so my growth as a Christian has been glacially slow.
I gave God no choice but to work on me himself in one to one encounters like the ones I have chronicled throughout this blog under the “Messages From God” category. Even with such limitations God has worked wonders in me.
He has changed me in many ways. I used to have a problem with anger but not any more. I used to be impatient and self-absorbed and he redirected my focus out onto other people and turned me into a psychologist. I used to smoke and he helped me quit. I hated my mother and men and he cleansed me of those hates. He’s helped me overcome depression, anxiety, PTSD, a gambling addiction. I was suicidal and he set me free from all of that and so much more!
It all culminated in Him finally getting me to read the bible every day, have a daily devotional time with him, make genuine efforts to start memorizing bits from the bible and start seriously praying for my children, my brothers, my sister, my nieces and nephews and their children, and other close loved ones.
So far I’ve memorized all of psalm 23, the first four lines of psalm 37 and the well known, well loved, and often used John 3:16 “For God so loved the world (YOU) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.
I plan to memorize more bits of the bible from now on so I will be equipped to fight the devil whenever he attacks me. I’ve been doing this daily since April now and finding I actually enjoy reading the Bible and learning from it which I never thought possible.
I’ve bought several books on Christianity and I’m even praying God will help me find a good church to attend!
Only God knows what happens next but I feel like the past 43 years I have been wandering in the wilderness and now it’s time to be who I was created to be. Whoever that might be!