“Why don’t you want a kitten?”, asked the employee at the animal shelter. I answered her with a superficial response. The fact is everyone wants kittens. Right? Just like everyone wants to foster and adopt babies. I wanted an older cat, who was possibly overlooked just like older children tend to be. Just like I was. Overlooked. Dismissed. Left wounded and alone. Filling the many insatiable voids in my life with the world. Surely even God had overlooked me, I’d thought.Everyone wants kittens. Right? Just like everyone wants to foster and adopt babies.Click To Tweet
My first recollection of being in a church, I was about 11 years old. A friend’s mother had taken her daughter and myself to a local church. Looking back, this woman emulated Jesus in a way I hadn’t known then, but was drawn to. Nothing I did wrong, feelings I’d expressed, or anything I shared with her could shake her unfailing support of me.
As I walked into the church, I remember being enamored by the rich architecture and beautiful windows of the sanctuary. I felt like this was a place I could simply “be”. Be accepted. Be embraced. Be freely loved. I came in with a raging sinus & ear infection preventing me from hearing a single word being preached. This left me able to immerse myself into the atmosphere of the church. During communion I couldn’t hear the directions or what was said to me. An older, well-appointed and distinguished female congregant made quite a vibrant show of disapproval over my inability to follow directions, and let alone hear. Her behavior reaffirmed my feelings of, yet again, being displaced and rejected. But this time, it was more hurtful because it happened in what I’d perceived to be a distant yet safe place.
By God’s grace my next church memory, as an adult, was redeemed by experiencing His presence. I walked into a church, with an impure and oozing heart. My wounds coupled with my disbelief were shaken up by The Lord’s tangible presence. I couldn’t explain in words what I experienced, but I knew what I was feeling. I walked away that day confused, scared, and in a curious awe. In that moment I knew for a fact God was indeed real, but I questioned His nature and character. I believed, but needed help with my unbelief. Mark 9:24
Interestingly, my greatest doubt of God stemmed from believers attempts to evangelize and convert me. Even back, as far as I can remember, I had a sense of God— as a distant & impersonal Creator. I firmly believed nothing happened by accident. But with the life I lived of being removed from my original home, separated from my siblings, foster care, adoption, and re-relinquishment…. I had traumatic wounds. Furthermore, I had equally hard questions. Each Christian, who would witness to me, were asked deep questions. And in their attempts to provide answers, they never validated the pain and trauma. Nor did they simply answer with “I don’t know”. Here I was genuinely, and with vulnerability, asking questions to better understand His character. And I was met with cliche answers and mannequin smiles. Their responses made me doubt what they truly believed and knew of a God they claimed I needed.I viewed God as a spectator of His creationClick To Tweet
Between these wounds and questions of where God was during my abusive and chaotic childhood, I viewed God as a spectator of His creation. From my experience and understanding, He was distant.
On Christmas Eve 1998 I found by birth father. Only to be told his military record on file revealed he had died on September 24 that year. The heartbreak I felt in that moment was immeasurable. His relationship with my birth mother did not last long and coupled with my being adopted, I was at dead ends to a relationship with him.
The heartbreak manifested into irreconcilable anger with God. I was angry with God, who allowed the failed adoption to take place. I had always been told how much my biological father cared for me and only signed adoption papers because he believed and was guaranteed a promising life for me. Time and time again, in both anger and curiosity, I would ask God why did you let me find him after he died. As well as asking why I didn’t find him just months before his early death.
Years later, about 2010, I asked yet again, and this time, God unexpectedly answered. I’m not sure there’s an answer on this side of eternity that will suffice. Part of the answer was “so you would stop looking for him”. The longing I had for parents is still palpable today. I look around and see so many friends who take for granted calling their parents, family tree projects, active grandparents in their children’s lives, etc. Yet in the midst of being fatherless, I only had one true Father I could go to. I know, undoubtedly, if I had an earthly father, I would not have sought out my Eternal Father. Although painful, and certainly not how I would’ve chosen to write my story, I am grateful for God allowing me to find my earthly father shortly after his death because without him alive, I was continually being pointed back to God for a Father.
The turning point of my faith was during my last pregnancy with our youngest, who is now 8. The pregnancy was complex and becoming dangerous. At one point we didn’t know if she would live. I left another ob-gyn appointment unaware of what the future held for us. I came home and crawled on my bed. I had been doing a remarkable job of being a ‘professional christian’— going down my ‘daily Christian checklist’. Bible reading, praying, bible study, paying a compliment to a stranger day, etc. I was in a bible study with a church I didn’t attend, and I was getting real answers. Honest ones. Even ones I didn’t like. My walls were slowly transitioning from stone to penetrable paper thin walls.
As I laid on the bed I began talking to God. I vividly remember telling Him, “ I can’t keep doing this anymore. One week it’s great news. The next week it’s not”. And then I said: if you’re not going to answer me I’m just going to lay here silent. What I experienced next is only what I can describe as the voices and presence of Jesus and God, as heaven descended into the bedroom. It was in that moment I realized God was a personal, intimate, and relational Father.It was in that moment I realized God was a personal, intimate, and relational Father.Click To Tweet
My biblical hero is a lesser acclaimed and famed man named Naaman. At the advice of another, he sought out Elisha, a prophet of God, to be healed from leprosy. Instead of a divine, instantaneous healing, he was told to dip himself in the waters seven times. 2 Kings 5. I also had to take action and responsibility for my healing. I was enslaved to rejection & abandonment wounds, an orphan spirit, hopelessness, and more. Thoughts of suicide were never too far away. I self-medicated with everything and anything. Eventually into adulthood, the recklessness of youth self-medicating transitioned. I began self-medicating with busyness, shopping, titles and accolades, etc. It took a whole lot of the Holy Spirit to heal me. My wholeness required deep inner healing, spiritual healing and physical healing. 3 John 1:2 The journey of healing led me to experience Jesus in wondrous ways.I was enslaved to rejection & abandonment wounds, an orphan spirit, hopelessness, and more.Click To Tweet
The closest I’ve felt to God throughout my walk is a photo finish between when I’m in the worship & stillness of my personal quiet time with Him, and when I’m ministering to others prayer & healing needs. In both of these situations I’m keenly aware of Him. These are times of beautiful presence and total reliance, while in deep surrender to Him. I am frequently asked about my faith, by both believers and pre-believers. And I’m quick to explain I came to faith by choosing to investigate if what I believed was true or not. My radical encounters and experiences, were likely a two-part result— I needed hardcore evidence that I would not be able to humanize and rationalize, and because I choose to lay down my proverbial box of beliefs. By laying my beliefs of God to the side, I allowed Him room to move. You see, my husband wasn’t a believer, as well as other important people in my life. I had to set out to decide what I personally chose to believe. And in the process of that, God fully revealed Himself to me. Jeremiah 29:13, and then used me as a vessel to reveal himself to the other people in my life that had not yet known him.