I had to type out my salvation testimony for something at church and finished it yesterday during naps. I wanted to share the work that God has done in my life with you all.
After I finished typing it yesterday I started to cry...I am ashamed to say it has been a while since I marvelled at the fact that the God of the Universe chose to save me and make me His. But I was reminded yesterday of that as I looked back on the work He begun in me.
So, here it is...
Growing up our family did not go to church. I am not sure that we ever discussed church, God, Jesus, the Bible or anything of that nature until I was in the 3rd grade. It was around this time that I went to church and Sunday school with both a friend and cousin on a few different occasions. Almost immediately, I came home asking why we didn’t go to church. I don’t recall being given an answer. However, I asked if I could go to the Baptist church with my cousin, and was promptly told “no” by my father. He stated that he was raised Catholic, and that if we were going to attend church; it would be the Catholic Church.
So, that was that. We (being my mom and us girls, not my dad) started going to the Catholic Church. My mom began the classes to become a member of the Roman Catholic Church, while my sisters and I (there were only 5 of us at this point) were all baptized. Shannon, Samantha and I went through the catechism classes, confirmation, etc. My mom faithfully took us on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings for a few years, until the priest had told my mom that she and all of us kids were going to hell because she got pregnant with me before she and my dad were married.
That was the end of that…my mom was not taking us back to church…especially the Catholic one.
Life continued on, and I still proudly proclaimed being Catholic to anyone who asked. Though we didn’t go to church anymore (except Christmas and Easter), and definitely didn’t follow church teachings in our home, I was proud to be a part of the Catholic Church.
During the summer break between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I began dating a guy from my class. He came from a very normal family, which was seen as a big deal to me since my parents had divorced the year before. Not only that, but they were faithful church-going Catholics. So, it wasn’t long before I started going to church semi-regularly again.
Both the relationship and my semi-regular attendance at church continued through high school and on into college. By this time, I was so convinced that I was a “good” person, that I never even gave a second thought about where I was going when I died and why. I didn’t have a clue why Jesus had died – I thought it was just because he wasn’t liked. I had never opened or read a Bible for myself. I didn’t know the first thing about true faith in Jesus. All I knew was that I was Catholic and was proud of that.
My life was steeped in sin. Sin that I deep down knew shouldn’t be taking place, but didn’t want to give up. Sin that I didn’t even see as sin. Sin that I didn’t even think about. Besides, I was better than so-and-so next to me…and I wasn’t hurting anyone. Why did it matter?
In 2000, I came home from Austin for the summer to work and attend a local community college for a few classes. During this time I had become really convicted about some of the sin in my life. At the time I didn’t know why I started to care, but I did. I had a mouth like a sailor and would apologize to God every time I said a cuss word. I pretty much stopped all together (though that did come back a little later). I remember driving to work one day and telling God I was sorry for saying some curse word, and again at work that night telling one of the other waitresses that I wasn’t going to cuss anymore. Aside from my potty mouth, I felt an intense amount of shame and guilt that came from the sin I was in with my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t know how to explain it to him or to stop it, so I just kept pushing it aside and ignoring it.
When I went back to Austin in the fall of 2000 things were different. My relationship with my boyfriend seemed strained, and I know that my convictions about our relationship put a barrier in our communication. We were also two sinners not living righteous lifestyles that wanted two different things. I wanted to start to think about settling down and getting engaged (we were juniors in college and had been together for over 5 years at this point), and he wanted to date other girls and live the frat guy life that he wasn’t able to do with a girlfriend in tow. So, we broke up.
I was at a loss with what to do with myself. Almost all of my friends were “our” friends, and really became his friends after the breakup. I felt very alone, depressed and uncertain of what to do with myself. So, I went off the deep end for a bit. I began to party quite a bit and was quite content to push back all my unhappiness with alcohol and dancing till the wee hours of the morning.
This all ended when I realized how ridiculous this was. I missed the funeral of a beloved co-worker from my high school days because I had too bad of a hangover to drive to Rockport from Austin. That was it…I wasn’t doing this anymore. I turned to the only place I knew to turn to…the Catholic Church.
In April of 2001 I received a phone call from a high school friend that said he was going to be in town with an old roommate from Texas A&M, who grew up in Austin. I knew his friend and old roommate, Matt, so decided to hang out with them over the weekend. I quickly realized that something with Matt had changed quite a bit. He’d always been very nice, quiet, easy-going, but there was something different. He talked a lot about the Bible, God, Jesus, sin, etc. It made me a bit uncomfortable, but I was desperate for friends and companionship.
Matt invited me to go to church with him. I found out it was a Baptist church and was quick to inform him that I was Catholic and would be going to my church. He continued to invite me, and I finally conceded. I met them on Sunday morning for church and Sunday school. The service was a contemporary one, and it just wasn’t “church” to me…it was too informal and not serious enough. The following weekend was Palm Sunday, so I knew I wanted to be at the Catholic Church for that. So, when Matt invited me to go with him again the following Sunday to church, I informed him of such. He continued to ask and to witness to me, and I agreed to go…again.
I got a lot more out of the second Sunday than the first. The Sunday school class was especially beneficial, as they were doing a series on relationships. They were going to discuss forgiveness and family the following week, which was Easter. I was torn since I wanted to see my family for Easter, but I knew that I had some major bitterness towards certain family members for things that had happened, and wanted to hear what the Sunday School teachers had to say.
So, I stayed in Austin, and went to that Baptist church again. The Sunday school lesson was good, and I talked to the teachers afterwards to share my family story and ask for advice. They were gracious and had been through some very similar circumstances, and gave me sound, biblical advice. I, on the other hand, broke down crying quite a few times. I had put so many walls up, and God was bringing them down…one by one.
A group of the college students from church would drive to College Station every Tuesday night for Breakaway. I decided to go the Tuesday after Easter. And again, the sermon was on forgiveness and family. This was obviously a big hurdle for me. I had to forgive my family for the hurts that I held onto, and that wasn’t going to happen until I asked for forgiveness for my own sin.
For a few weeks I continued to go to both church and Breakaway. Through the preaching of the Word of God at both of these places, the Holy Spirit worked on my heart to reveal my sin, self-dependence, price, arrogance, and unrighteous life. I knew now that I had never known God. I hadn’t known Jesus, and I had been trying to live a “good” life by my own standards to get to heaven, and that wasn’t going to cut it.
God was gracious to reveal His truth to my heart, and to give me a desire to follow Him. I was miraculously set free from my sin, and placed into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ who died for me on the cross to pay the penalty that I deserve for my sins. Not only that, but he began a work in my life that changed me from the inside out. I am a new creation in Christ, and anyone that knows me from my previous life, knows that I am a new creation indeed! The old is gone and the new has come. Knowing that gives me assurance that I am indeed one of God’s chosen. I praise the living God for His gift of salvation, and His son, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and power, forever and ever! Amen.