I was a late bloomer in knowing Jesus. As a child, I grew up attending church every Sunday, sitting there week after week believing I had everything necessary to get to heaven when it was my time to “pass” (I never liked that term – still don’t). In college and in my 20’s I steered clear of churches but in my early 30’s I lived on an Atlanta street that bounded the largest Presbyterian church in the country. The pastor was an older gentleman and great communicator of masterfully crafted moral essays that made my sharp young mind really think about moral virtue, where I was headed and why, but he rarely mentioned Jesus.
Time wore on and 4 days shy of my 35th birthday, I married a quiet, reserved man unknowingly that was hiding a profoundly advanced addiction.The next 1.5 years were chaotic adjusting into newly married life, moving twice and for him – trying to slay this addiction before I found out about it. Did I mention advanced. Three years into the marriage, after his repeated job losses, I was well fed up with the bizarre, unexplained behavior. The confrontation finally occurred, the truth came out and the magnitude of the circumstances were beyond anything that I could understand or imagine. We attended a great church but were not deeply involved and I was a base level believer. Immediately following the “exposure” he moved out to live with his Sponsor (I had no idea what that meant), living away from our home for over a year. It was during that time of total devastation that my walk with Jesus started as does this story.
At 37, I had no friends that had been divorced and had waited late in life to marry, determined never to end up a divorce statistic myself. My parents divorced while I was in college so I fully understood the damaging impact on families and individuals that walk through that trauma and wanted no part of it. I became acutely aware that I needed a place of belonging and began to search earnestly for answers to all of the pain. I was told of an evening bible study that was meeting up the street from my Dunwoody home; it was called 7:22 and geared toward college students and younger singles. I knew no one going there but heard that the teaching was sound, and it was taught by some guy named Louie Giglio.
I had also tried out a church a few times that was meeting on Sunday evenings while they raised the funds to build their own. It was called North Point Community Church with a pastor named Andy Stanley. He was an excellent speaker. I watched him actually teach straight from the bible, at times word for word,making sense of the bible for me for the very first time. I was hooked, learning about Jesus. He was cool. (I mark this as the time that I accepted Christ and began my relationship with Him and was baptized shortly thereafter in a North Point elder’s swimming pool) Both of these meetings were occurring at the same church about 2 miles from my home. Within 4 months, I was working for North Point and about 6 months following that, became responsible for non production aspects of 7:22 (volunteers, prayer, resource sales, customer service, etc.) 7:22, an interdenominational service for Atlanta college and single adults, quickly grew to a weekly attendance of 2800.
Although the Lord had miraculously opened a door of grace for me through this dark time, I was still actively searching for answers. Jesus seemed very far away, He was up there with God, but I needed Him down here with me ~ desperately. My marriage had imploded ending 12/1999, I could no longer afford my home, my now former husband had no job and had returned to his south Alabama family. When I went to work for North Point, I decided to close my successful staffing business. I had no active relationship with my own family. Jesus felt way “out there”, and I needed Him to be way “inside”. My prior idea of personal success had always been defined very differently. I felt as if I was treading water with no sign of moving upward, little understanding of my identity in Christ.
During this very confusing time, I left my position at the church in 12/2000 and began to prepare to leave Atlanta which felt like a tremendous relief. I put the house on the market and watched as month after month passed – no one came to look at it. I was desperate to leave the city that I associated with so much pain. In the waiting, I was told of a 28 week program that would assist with my healing and felt the Lord’s confirmation to me to take that direction. The house came off the market and I took the course. Each week, a guest lecturer spoke on an important topic of healing and then our leaders prayed over us for one solid hour each week- we were not allowed to speak, and prayers of deep healing were prayed over each of us and our individual circumstances.
I am convinced that the reason that I am healed and restored today over this situation is because 1) I forgave my former husband and 2) from the effects of these healing prayers. I am free of that damaging wound purely by the grace of God and the active working of the blood of Jesus. (the latter of which I have not understood until the last six years).
To God Be the Glory.
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Author: Doorways of Grace: My Uncommon Journey to Healing, Wholeness and Meeting Jesus