“For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” Philippians 4:13
This is my life verse. This verse gets me through difficult times. This verse reminds me that while I am not all-powerful, I have The All-Powerful living inside me and that is Jesus Christ.
From an outside point of view, my childhood looked ideal. I lived in a nice home in Palos Verdes with an older sister and brother and a big, fluffy dog. My dad made a good living and we never lacked for anything.
However, when he came home from work and began to drink, arguments would erupt. Dinnertime was often a difficult, contentious ordeal. I kept quiet and cried into my yellow opaque milk cup so nobody could see my pain. This began a lifetime of hiding my pain, from others and myself.
As I became a young teenager, I realized that drugs and alcohol could numb the pain deep inside me. If I was under the influence, things were just fine. I found the peace of mind, happiness and confidence that I was missing. I had no worries, no problems; it was my perfect escape, the “medicine” I needed.
I found friends who wanted to party along with me, even during the hours when I should have been in school. This was not conducive to a successful educational experience but I didn’t care. I remember thinking that if I kept up this self-destructive behavior, it could very well shorten my life, and I was okay with that. I could not envision a future for myself because the present was too bleak.
The only thing I was really interested in, that didn’t involve partying with friends and hanging out at the beach, was music. I played various instruments and enjoyed them all. I loved concerts of any type, from classical to hard rock. As I thought about pursuing a degree in music, I saw the hard work and practice that goes into it, along with not believing in myself — I eventually let that go.
Other areas of interest were not possible for me because of my poor performance in school which led to deficits in my education. Although traditional school was not for me, I enrolled in court reporting school as I was a great typist (yes, that was a thing back then!), enjoyed the written word and learning vocabulary and looked forward to learning about law. God gave me a great profession as a deposition reporter.
Tucked in there somewhere in the middle of this story is an experience that was life-changing and life-giving. My close friend had a grandmother who was a believer and she asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus as my Personal Savior. “Sure!” I said, not liking the prospect of spending an eternity in hell.
Having Jesus in my heart saved my life by having His Presence inside me, not allowing me to continue heading down the road to self-destruction but rather to show me that life can be so much more than numbing myself in order to escape pain.
God led me to AA meetings, where I found others who understood me. He pulled me to Himself as I went through the Twelve Steps, by first admitting that I was powerless over alcohol and then I learned that if I relied on Him, I could be restored. Life without alcohol or drugs? Unimaginable. But the meetings I went to were full of women who successfully lived that sober life.
I trudged along, slowly but surely, allowing God to change my heart, fully and completely.
When we make decisions that are contrary to God’s plan for our lives, there are natural consequences. I made many wrong decisions and I recognize natural consequences from those decisions quite often. I’m no stranger to the consequences of the law when it came to God’s Protective Hand putting a halt to my wayward behavior. Depression and anxiety are not strangers to me either. However, as I have committed my life more and more to the Lord, living life the way He would have me live, I have experienced incomprehensible joy.
God led me to a wonderful man who trusts in Jesus. We have two amazing adult children who are my heart. God did this for me by pulling me off the path of self-destruction. I can stay off that path because He is the One through whom I can do all things.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13. NKJV
He took my pain and turned it into a joy-filled life. I have an understanding and empathy for others who struggle with addictions, depression and anxiety issues that I would never have otherwise, had I not gone through it myself.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 1 Corinthians. 1:3-4 NIV
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 NLT
He knows my pain, my struggles, my challenges, my every tear, and loves me so much that He has kept track of it all and uses everything for good. God used my love for music by putting me in the position of sound tech at my church. The God of all comfort turns bad to good as He comforts me when I struggle, giving me a heart of gratitude, so that I can then show the love of God to others. What a Wonderful Savior I serve!
Jackie makes her home in Southern California, with her husband and daughter, and has a son in school in Chicago. Her happy places are the beach and the mountains, enjoying God’s beautiful creation. She retired from court reporting when her son was born and is now an Avon Sales Representative. Jackie has enjoyed volunteering in the sound ministry at her church for 25 years, delivers for Meals on Wheels, manages to squeeze in her daily dose of yoga, is a life-long learner about nutrition, fitness, and nature. She lives her blessed life one day at a time.
We thank you, Jackie, 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, Jackie ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary