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We all carry burdens from things we’ve done, or things done to us. We handle them in different ways, and sometimes we can’t handle them, so they handle us instead. For Yvonne, her childhood burden surfaced as hate. She struggled with it for years on her own, and then one day, decided to try something else.
If you had met me at 17, you would have thought I was happy. I had great friends, a wonderful boyfriend and I always seemed to have a good time. But inside I was controlled by hatred for a man who raped me when I was 10. The hate ravaged me; it violated my thoughts, my outlook, and my dreams. I knew it would destroy me if I didn’t deal with it, but I believed I’d earned the right to hate. It was mine.
And then one day new neighbors moved in next door. They had a very busy house, with people always coming in and out. There was something about them that I had never seen before, a compassion that went way beyond neighborly caring. They really loved people. All people. And I was one of the people they chose to love.
They invited me in for coffee and dinner and bible studies. I was a huge skeptic. I thought that God and all God-related things were boring and stifling. I wasn’t willing to change my lifestyle; I liked it the way it was. I mocked their faith, and yet they kept inviting me over. And I kept going. While I didn’t want to embrace the Jesus they loved, I wanted their inexplicable love and happiness.
Over time I started to feel the love of Jesus for myself and I softened. When I “gave my life” to Him I admitted that I’d made a mess of myself, and that I didn’t want to live like a victim anymore. I asked Him for forgiveness for my hate.
At first, I received a new way of seeing life. Hope had replaced everything. I no longer focused on just myself, and began to care about others. Only the more involved I got, the more I started noticing that not all people who professed to be Christians seemed to see things the way I did. And one by one, they let me down.
After a couple of years, I found it impossible to be a “good Christian.” The kind of Christians my neighbors were – people who sought a lifestyle that reflected Jesus and continued to grow in a knowledge of Him. I still wanted to go out and have fun. I struggled to stay sexually pure. But I knew that a wild lifestyle didn’t mesh with this Christ who had taken the sting out of my pain. Because of Him I could now look at the rape and not feel helpless. I wanted to keep that strength and live as I had before, but I couldn’t be a hypocrite. So I told Jesus it had been nice knowing Him. If He wanted me, He’d have to try to hold on to me.
He let me go. And at first I was relieved to be freed from this stifling standard to live by. The problem was, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I’d be. I knew what I had left was the truth. I knew I’d made a mistake. Within 3 months I was pregnant from a casual relationship. The baby’s father and I had different convictions. He wanted out and for it to all go away. I wouldn’t abort. We couldn’t agree. I was so ashamed. I wanted to turn back to Jesus, but the thought of asking Him for help seemed wrong. I had turned away from Him and made this mess. I didn’t deserve His help.
A friend encouraged me by sharing Romans 8:28: “We know all things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I thought about this. It didn’t say “some” things work together. It said “all” things. And “all” would have to include the mess I’d made of my life. I prayed for the first time in months. I told Jesus that I knew I didn’t deserve His mercy, but asked for it anyway. It was then that I heard His voice say, “And you didn’t deserve it the first time you gave your life to me, either.”
I finally understood that there was nothing I could ever do to earn what Jesus did for me. He gave His life. For me. I didn’t deserve it, AND IT DIDN’T MATTER. He gave it anyway. And then another verse filled my heart, and I clung to it: “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) I still cling to that verse now.
I recommitted my life to Jesus. This time I focused on Him instead of the other Christians around me and my life really changed. The man whose baby I carried gave his life to Jesus, too. We fell in love and got married. We lost our baby, but God, in His mercy, gave us a chance to start over. He also blessed us with four other children (now grown), and two grandsons.
Here I am, some 38 years later, still humbled when I think about the life I could have had, and the life I live instead. My husband went from an unemployed actor to a business owner and then later, a pastor. Not that I had ever wanted to be a pastor’s wife, but God knows best. One thing is for sure, because of the neighbors who loved me when I was unlovable, I found the forgiveness of Christ. And because He forgave me, I was able to forgive the abuse I suffered as a young girl. The freedom of this forgiveness was the biggest miracle in my life, and one that only Christ can do.
And because of it, I can enjoy the happiness of offering my own home as a place for others to come and eat, unload their burdens, and maybe even meet the God who changed my life.
©2010 YMoss. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
You can check out her daily blog Yvonne Moss for tips on make-up application, photography, cooking, cleaning and organizing. Or, if you’re in Jersey and looking for a church, you can visit Long Branch Covenant Church. (And while you’re there, say hello to the handsome, dark-haired gentleman playing the guitar with the band – that’s my dad.)
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