Like most teenagers, I was troubled. I acted out, wanted to look “cool” and delved into things I had no business being a part of. You can go to town and use your imagination with all the stereo-typical teenage experiences you can think of – perhaps I’ve done them all. By no means, did I lack proper guidance and nurturing from my dear mother. It was me and I was dead wrong in the choices that I made and the things I did. Mom went above and beyond to teach me the right way. To this very day she will always be looked up to as my wonder woman! She tirelessly and single-handedly raised four kids , while she lived with the insane challenges and sadness of having a volatile relationship with my late father.
I have to say that I grew up too swiftly! My world came crashing down in my twenties as I entered into early romantic relationships. Making matters worse, I was very defensive and trusted no one! I lugged around some heavy baggage of despair that surfaced in bouts of automatic jealousy, mistrusts, fear, abandonment, etc. These were patterns that I brought into my relationships because of what I grew up seeing.
I was broken. I didn’t have anyone to seek guidance from. I was taught the protocols of religion in a Catholic home where the emphasis was on obligation rather than an actual relationship with God. Growing up, I went to mass every Sunday and of course, the traditional Christmas eve mass just to avoid the backlash of ‘disobedience.’
I studied many other religions, and yes, they were interesting but they weren’t enough to satisfy my hunger to know God on a deeper and personal level.
I think I might have prayed about this … because one day I received an invitation to attend a small community Christian church. I sat in the back row. I did not know what to expect at all. An elderly couple immediately welcomed me and gave me the warmest hug. I wasn’t used to that at all. No one at my church greeted newcomers, much less with such warmth. As I looked around the sanctuary, I did not see any statues or crosses or stained glass that I was so accustomed to seeing. I kept thinking, ‘What is this place?’
The sermon was about ‘forgiveness’ and that day was the beginning of it all.
The topic held my attention. I can remember thinking, “Am I the only one crying here? Is everyone else hearing this the way I’m hearing it?’
I really felt that God was on the move. Later that evening, I had the most exhilarating dream. I saw Christ in silhouette form along with His mother, Mary. She asked me why I have doubted her son, for He is very real. I woke up crying and decided to return to the same church and asked the Lord to forgive me of all my sins and to teach how to forgive my father for the pain he caused. That day I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and genuinely thanked Him for dying on the cross for me.
You see beloved, we are not the dictator of what is to come.
4 For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. 5 He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Ephesians 1:4-5 CSB
It is my continuous prayer, to let go and trust Him radically without reservation. To remember at all times that He carried me and showed me that He knows every single thing about me. He is the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end. Jehovah God determines the number of the stars and He calls them each by name. So why not you?
Let’s lift up our eyes and acknowledge Him who is our Creator – our Abba father.
Marfi Barnes is a wife, a mother of three and soon-to-be grandmother. She has served as human resources personnel for an auxiliary at a local state university in Long Beach, California for over 20 years. She is a woman of God, student of faith, and enjoys learning and growing in her Christian faith. She is a mentor, a coach and an encourager who enjoys healthy discussion about life balance, emotional and physical health. She gives God all the glory!
We thank you, Marfi, for sharing your heart and your Testimony of GOD’s love and grace in your life. Your contribution to Testimony Thursday this month is well appreciated!
You are loved to Heaven and Back, Marfi ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary