My spiritual journey
by, Jul 22nd 2008 at 02:27 PM (1065 Views)
I originally posted this in Testimonies July 12th, 2008, 09:34 PM. I wanted to post it in my Blog to make it easier for people to find.
I was adopted as an infant and knew this from an early age. Although my mama and daddy made me feel special I always felt like something was missing. Like a piece of me was gone. However, from the moment I had conscious thought I felt a spiritual presence in my heart. I attended church as a young child with my mama and brother. My daddy was a quiet man and did not speak about feelings or God. He did not attend church with the rest of the family. Despite Daddy's indifference I came to the realization that there was something bigger out there than this old world.
I loved to hear the story of Jesus. I would cry when I thought of him dying on that cross for me. At nine my mama took me to see the Billy Graham Crusade in person. I was wiggling in my seat and restless. Yet when Mr Graham spoke of Jesus, his voice ringing out in a thundering crescendo, I was enraptured. When they began the altar call, 'Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come' I felt it. It started out small, like a tiny tickle rising with each verse of the song. The tickle whelmed up inside my rib cage like a balloon, filled my chest, took my breath away and lifted me up out of my seat. Without realizing that I was moving I started forward.
My mama caught me and said 'no no no you are too little'. But I knew better. There had been a connection. I cried all the way home. I cried myself to sleep. God had called me. I wanted, I had needed to go to Him. I felt like I let Him down. A few years later when I was 12 on a Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church I again felt the call. Another altar call with a tickle but mama said 'no no no, I don't have time to stay after church, too much to do'. This time no tears just quiet resignation. Some day, I told myself, I wouldn't be too little. I would be able to go when He called.
Years passed and I became a teenager with new interests and friends. Life became hard for my family and mama stopped taking me to church. I began going to different churches with friends because I didn't want to lose that connection. But the spirit faded, the flesh weakened or maybe I wasn't listening. I stopped making the effort to get to church on my own. Around me were all these exciting, shining, wonderful worldly 'things' that caught my attention. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be cool, I wanted a new car, I wanted a boyfriend.
It was all I want, I want.
I never doubted that I was a good person. I believed I was going to heaven. I didn't worry about a thing. It didn't cross my mind that I had lost the 'tickle'. I didn't always listen to that little voice in my heart. I listened to all those exciting, worldly things I was hearing and seeing around me. By the time I was in my mid 20's I began to feel kind of bored and a little lost. I still hadn't found anyone special to love me. I did have the nice car but it really didn't mean that much after all. I felt like I wanted something more but didn't know what it was. Something was missing from my spirit.
Quite a few of my friends had moved on, married, had children but I was alone and had no direction. For the first time in a very long time I prayed. I asked "Lord when is my life going to start? What do you have for me to do?" I needed to do something with my life. Let me tell you not only did my Heavenly Father hear me but He started life rolling with a vengence. Two months after this prayer my life was changing on a daily basis. I had emergency back surgery after a work incident had left me with partial paralysis in my lower left leg. My mama had alzheimers and my daddy struggling to care for her, suffered a heart attack. Still recovering from my own surgery I had to put my mama into a nursing home. This is not an experience for the faint of heart. Despite almost continuous prayers for his recovery my daddy passed away after four months in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. I felt lost and like an orphan at the ripe old age of 29.
I had also started dating a man shortly before my surgery. We had met at work five years earlier and were friends but I had never had been 'interested'. He was a stand up kind of guy and reminded me of my daddy. The more things crumbled around me the more he stood by me. A month after Daddy passed away I married my husband. Within a year of that prayer I no longer recognized my life. I had inherited my daddy's house. I was taking care of my mama in the nursing home and doing her laundry. I was married to a wonderful husband and wonderful in-laws. My in-laws encouraged us to attend church and I jumped at the chance after so many years of not going. My husband's home church embraced me and life seemed fine. I still thought I was a good person. I was going to heaven. I didn't worry about a thing.
My husband and I spent the first five years of our marriage enjoying life and each other. We went to church, sometimes. We had both been raised in homes where religion was part of the family structure. But God was not truly part of our marriage. I longed for God and encouraged my husband to pray with me but he was too embarrassed. A lot like my daddy my husband found it difficult to express his feelings or discuss his relationship with God. I still felt something was missing yet I did not seek. I was complacent and just accepted that this was our life.
Although my parents were the best I had often wondered about my birth parents. Where they were and why I was given up for adoption? When my husband and I discussed having children we decided it would be a good idea to have a family medical history on me before starting a family of our own. It was scary stepping into the unknown but the reunion with my birth family was a happy one. Meeting my birth mother felt like finding a piece of myself I was missing and wondered if this what I had been searching for? I still believed I was a good person. I was going to heaven. Although I enjoyed my birth family and grew to love them I still had not answered God's call.
Then we found ourselves pregnant. We had been through fertility testing and had given up trying to conceive so this felt like a miracle. A gift from God. Perhaps this was God's calling for me. At 23 weeks pregnant and two weeks after our ultrasound where we found out we were having a baby boy my water broke. I was so naive I didn't realize what was happening. Once the nurse on the phone convinced me to get to the emergency room as quickly as I could I panicked. Crying 'please God no, don't let this be happening, make it go away' I found myself sitting in the driver's seat at a stoplight sobbing when I realized I was asking God for the wrong thing. Life happens to all of us. Good and bad. For whatever reason this was happening. No matter what was happening my God had a plan. With a deep breath and great sadness I bowed my head and prayed harder than I ever had in my life.
'Dear heavenly Father, through You all things are possible. You know I want this baby more than anything I have ever wanted but if this pregnancy is not meant to be please keep my baby safe in Your arms. Please be with me through whatever is about to happen because I can not do this without YOU.'
I instantly felt a peace come over me. I was still scared and sad but calm. By the time I got to the Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital I was ready to do battle. The next 75 days that I lay in a bed in the hospital L & D unit were all by His grace and truly a miracle. The doctors gave me no hope. They said it would take a 'miracle' for this baby to survive. They were astounded that I did not go into labor as expected. Thank goodness my heavenly Father is in the 'miracle' business. I laid in that hospital bed staring at the 112 ceiling tiles above me and prayed. Conversing daily with and finally getting to know God on a more personal level my spiritual and prayer life soared. I sang and read stories to my baby. I never gave up hope and never ever felt alone. My Father was with me and He is pretty good company.
We got our miracle when our baby Alex was delivered by C-section at 33 weeks. Six and a half weeks early the doctors were still concerned. The doctors felt surely there would be severe consequences for the premature rupture of membrane and loss of fluid. After a month in the N.I.C.U. one of the neonatologists, determined that something was indeed wrong. He had Alex tested for a terminal Muscular Dystrophy disease that fit the symptoms. Sure he was correct in his assumption he called our family in to break the bad news. Matter of factly the doctor gave Alex less than a year to live without hope. He encouraged us to have a feeding tube placement since he knew Alex would never be able take formula on his own. He stressed to us that if we did not have the feeding tube it would be on our heads when Alex aspirated or starved to death.
I was devasted. Surely God would not put Alex through the trauma of getting here only to let him suffer and die. I could not handle this on my own and felt total despair. I wanted my husband to pray with me right then and there but he felt so overwhelmed that he left for a breath of fresh air. I found myself sitting alone in the lobby of the N.I.C.U. in front of the elevators, crying, mind spinning and praying. Just then the elevator opened and there was my minister. Ernie had visited me weekly while I had been in Labor and Delivery. We had shared many prayers for Alex's safe arrival. Ernie had never visted at night until now. He was a gentle soul with a warm and caring way. He sat down next to me. He said he had been at home when he felt compelled to come see me. As I cried out my fears and indecision to him about the Alex's diagnosis and whether or not to have the feeding tube surgery he took my hands in his and said;
"Alex is God's little boy. No one can love him more than his Heavenly Father. Give him to Him. Trust in Him. There is no wrong decision here, God will make it right."
Later that night at home, finally in bed I tried to talk to my husband about my fears and begged him to pray with me but he was emotionally drained and fell asleep. I have to tell you I had never ever felt so alone. Like an orphan. I sat up in bed and cried out;
"Lord, I am all alone in this pain"!
Just then I felt my husband's warm, strong hand on my shoulder squeezing me. Flooded with relief I turned to hug him but he was still asleep with his back to me. In an instant I knew. I knew My Father is with me always. I was almost ashamed that I had once again forgotten this. In that instance I gave my loneliness and despair to God. I fell into a dreamless sleep and rested until morning.
My first waking thought the next morning was that God has something important planned for Alex. I could still feel the warmth and strength of His embrace. I now knew my purpose in life. Finally I could answer His call. This is the moment in my life that has made the most impact on my faith in God. I have trouble talking about this moment without crying because at that moment it was truly the darkest most painful time in my life. And yet it is also the most joyous and miraculous time and I am forever changed.
* My Father gave us another miracle when four months after the feeding tube placement and muscle biopsy (testing for M.D) we got the results stating Alex did not have Muscular Dystrophy and the feeding tube was removed. The feeding tube had never been used. Once we got Alex home he flourished and ate on his own. How awesome is our God??
** Here is the link to my testimony on Alex's birth (posted March 14th 2005, 03:14 PM ) that goes into more detail of my days spent in Labor and Delivery.