I was born into a nominally Catholic household. I’m one of those few lucky Catholic kids that remembers her own baptism. It was when I was 4 and, for me, it was mostly about a pretty dress. That was pretty cool. The rest of it was mostly over my head. The priest wasn’t speaking Latin, but he might as well have been.
Then my parents started working 7 days a week and we stopped going to church. And I didn’t think about it much. Don’t get me wrong, I was never an atheist. I never believed there was NOTHING out there. I couldn’t believe this was all random. I was not an atheist. I was the pagan that tells you that she “prays to the universe.” I was one of a thousand hippie chicks telling you that all things can be true if you believe it. If you walk in love, if your heart is pure, if your intentions are good; it doesn’t matter what you believe or what you do, as long as you don’t hurt anyone. We’re all going to heaven, except maybe really bad people, like Hitler or people like that. And God made a different road for all of us, depending on what works for each of us. I believed in Jesus, but not the Bible. For awhile, I believed that you wanted to behave well because all your ancestors were watching and you wanted to make sure that your grandmother saw what she wanted to see. Then you wouldn’t have to hear about it when you saw her again. I was hugging trees, being guided by spirit animals and communing with spirits. I worshipped the earth and all she stood for. I cast spells, I called corners, I read tarot cards, and I burned candles. I was a witch.
Then it got dark. I was going through life, doing whatever I could to get by, using what I had of a moral compass to try to do what was right. And things just kept coming up. And I just kept getting further and further into some really ugly stuff. And when it got too scary, I left. I thought I was walking out of my broken marriage, and I was. But what I was really walking away from, what God was pushing me away from, were the last things keeping me from Him: my ex-husband, my life, my self, my sin.
Two months later, I was reading a certain Psalm in the middle of the night and I realized the truth of the matter. God was really there, just like it says in the Bible, he made everything that there is to make and we are nothing but one more minuscule thing in a vast creation.
And yet. He still cares about us. More than anything else. He’s watching, he cares, he loves us. And that was it. I was done. Stick a fork in me, I was done. Everything changed. Everything was different. Has it been easy? Did I walk through the last years hand in hand with Jesus on a path of light and love and awesomeness? No. It’s true what they say. When you kick out demons and clean your spiritual house, they come back and they bring their friends. And they say, “cool, you cleaned up the place. It was a real dump before.” So you have to keep kicking them out. I don’t know how long that lasts, they still come back occasionally. But it gets easier because you know what to do: cling to God. And that gets to be more habitual.
And now my sins are not that interesting, relatively speaking. I am less forgiving than I should be. I am less patient than I should be. I should be kinder, more loving, more open about my faith. I could go on. I am not all that God would want me to be. I’m not even all that I would have me be. But compared to where I was just a few short years ago? Yeah, I admit it, I feel pretty good. Safe, secure, well-loved.
But that’s not the dramatic part. Yes, it’s cool. I was a sorceress. I was a slave girl talking to demons, telling the future. I was Rahab in the walls of Jericho with no idea that God was sending his spies all the time. And now, I’m not. I am a woman of faith, following Christ with all my heart. Don’t get me wrong; that’s dramatic. But that’s only about what I did. What’s my testimony? I was stupid and now I’m slightly less stupid? Gee, that’s something to be proud of. What’s really amazing here is what God did.
He pursued me. He put his creation in front of me. He put his word in the world. And he sent his spies to tell me his message.
There was my dad who taught me that there is right and there is wrong and sometimes you don’t understand why. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes it’s just because God said so.
There was my mother who loves Jesus. I didn’t really know what that meant when I was a kid but I knew that I couldn’t question the reality of who Jesus was. There was just no way when she was so certain.
There was a lady up the street who invited me to vacation bible school every year, until the last year I was still young enough to go, and I finally went. It was kinda cool.
There was my roommate in college. A preacher’s daughter, she insisted that I go to Intervarsity with her. If she was going to Improv with me, I was going to bible study with her.
And there were those kids at Intervarsity. They didn’t know me. I wasn’t Christian but when I hit crisis, they prayed for me. They laid hands on me, hugged me and prayed for me like I was one of their own. I was, I just didn’t know it yet.
And there was Pastor Gordon at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Cheney. He held a 7 week bible study. If you made it through the whole thing, you got $150. I know, I know. Weird, but talk about seeker-friendly! But at the end of that seven weeks, I had $150 and a whole new idea about Jesus and the Bible, and I wanted it. I wanted to get baptized and be one of them. That was about 1995, so clearly I didn’t. My then boyfriend would have…well, I don’t know what he would have done because I didn’t do it and I was too afraid to even bring it up. But I did buy a bible and a whole bunch of other books. And I took enough religion classes that I was 10 credits short of having a second degree.
And there was my favorite religious studies professor. Dr. Kinney was a devout Catholic who was also a Bible scholar. He started answers to my questions with his own questions like: “Are you asking what scholars think or what I believe?” I spent a lot of hours in his office.
And there was the woman who gave me her lawyer’s number and suggested it might be time to get out. She was as pagan as they come. So actively rejecting God that when I came to Jesus, she went straight from “You’re like a sister to me and I would lay down my life for you” to “I can’t trust you.” It took less than a week.
And, finally, there was the man who sent me an early morning email to say that he has hope because he has Jesus and that’s the only reason he’s still here through all the garbage. At that point, I was living in a hotel room with my three kids, 3 weeks away from walking out of my marriage. I was so broken, so tired, I didn’t even have the strength to put my fingers in my ears much less sing Mary Had a Little Lamb. I believe now that that’s when God does his best work in us.
So I started asking questions. And two months later, God changed my heart. Irretrievably. And 13 months after that, I was baptized again in the cold waters off of Alki Beach in West Seattle. This time, there was no pretty dress. But it was still pretty cool. And only the water went over my head.
So, yeah, I have a dramatic testimony. God pursued me for 34 years, 6 months and 2 days, passionately and relentlessly. He allowed me to be broken, allowed everything I thought I knew to be questioned, assaulted, torn down. So that I finally had no logical choice but to stop running the other way and accept the only thing that could possibly be true.