Hello Dear Reader!
Today be blessed and encouraged by reading the testimony of our fellow community member, Laura Connell. Refreshing and engaging, she blogs over at God’s Girl and has a powerful story of love & redemption for us all. I am just so in awe of all God does for each one of us! <3 Julie
by Laura Connell
When I was five going on six, a school bus from the local Baptist Church rambled through my working class street each Sunday picking up kids for Church. Almost all of us got on the bus for one reason: chocolate. Each Sunday all our names were placed in a hat and the lucky kid whose name was withdrawn won a huge chocolate bar.
I, however, loved going to Church because it was the one place where adults were nice to me. I remember peering up at the Sunday School teacher, trying to figure out why she was being sweet to me. Why did she care about me? Why did she see me when nobody else did?
I also began to fall in love with this man named Jesus – another adult who, in my 5-year-old eyes, inexplicably and radically loved little children like me.
Later my mother would confess to letting me get on the Baptist school bus because she and my father relished the Sunday mornings off from parenting. Most of the time, they were nursing hangovers from the party the night before.
Although I was raised in an atheist household I can attest to the fact that knowledge of God is in the heart of every child. I knew God was real even though my parents took every opportunity to teach me He wasn’t – and that anyone who believed in Him was stupid or crazy.
I played strange little games to prove God’s existence. If I couldn’t find my shoe, I’d whisper: “God help me find my shoe and then I’ll know you’re real.” As I retrieved the item from under my bed, I’d bask in the knowledge that God was there and He could hear me.
The Baptist Church fell away when my parents refused to take me to the Christmas concert for which I’d been practicing. They sat there and watched me bawl my eyes out, nearly hyperventilating from the wrenching sadness of not being allowed to partake in the celebration of Jesus’ birth. They were doing what they thought was right. Or maybe they didn’t want to waste an evening in Church.
Being raised without Church in an atheist home leaves you vulnerable to every attack of the enemy. The biggest one I believed is that God can’t be my Father because I am not a member of a Christian family. I was jealous of Christian girls and what they had access to: the great God of the universe.
I believed the lie that God was not available to me well into my 30s. By this time, the enemy had me firmly in his clutches. I was under the oppression of a full-blown alcohol addiction, I had murdered my first baby through abortion, and I was in the process of a divorce from someone who never loved me or cared about me. I had become suicidal but God rescued me from that fate by showing me an Oprah episode featuring suicide survivors at the very moment I had decided to take my life. You see, He has been with me every step of the way.
After the divorce I faced my alcoholism and went into recovery. I learned how to get honest, surrender my will to a power greater than myself, and serve others. I learned that what I could not achieve through years of willpower, Christ could do in an instant.
By God’s grace and wisdom, I met a Christian woman in my program who urged me to read the Bible and get to know the one true God. Reading the Bible helped me understand who God was. I began to discover that Christianity was not what I thought: perfect people who never set a foot wrong and would not accept someone like me. The men who wrote the Bible were murderers, adulterers and liars! I began to realize that God loved to show off and bring glory to Himself by using apparently useless people to achieve His purposes. He could even use me.
Brokenness is a term I learned when I started spending time with Christian folks. “We live in a broken world” was a new one for me. How liberating to say out loud what I had always known –the world is full of evil and I don’t belong here! Atheists and agnostics go through life pretending everything is rosy and if it’s not… there must be something wrong with YOU. Honesty has been the most cherished aspect of Christianity for me and the one I defend most.
Now I get to disciple my own children and raise them in a Christian home: what I had always dreamed about for myself. My children are growing up with knowledge of the Bible and who God is, attending Church and acting in those plays I was forbidden to attend as a child. Now I know that I belong to God, too, and He doesn’t care about where you come from – in fact He uses it all and nothing goes to waste in His kingdom:
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.-Psalm 56:8