“Spending twelve years in a Christian school and attending church on most Sundays was all about the “religion” I had growing up. I always knew about God but I never really knew Him.
We never read the Bible but at times I remember looking at the pictures with my brother. My mom and dad had a Bible in their bedroom that was rather large with celestial beings on it. I went to a Christian school but never owned a Bible. We were told the church leaders were the only ones who could read the Bible and interpret it.
“Religion” classes were only stories from the Bible. I remember one time asking a question about David (vs. Goliath). The teacher who was teaching said to me “Don’t you dare ask a question about one of God’s Holy Ones. Just listen to the story and ask forgiveness for your questioning mind, may He have mercy on you”. I never did have my question answered and never thought to ask again.
I was “confirmed” in the 7th grade. It had absolutely no spiritual significance to me what so ever. I remember having my hair done, my nails, a new dress, shoes, the whole bit. My family had a party in a nice restaurant and I received (money) gifts. That was cool for a 7th grader. The rehearsals were torture. It was so important that we didn’t step on the lines in the floor tiles. I was scared to death to make the wrong move. Severe consequences were inflicted by the teachers if you messed up. It was all about image. I do not recall ever understanding the significance of confirmation.
I did what I was told to do, never questioned anything and played the “good” game, meaning I didn’t outwardly sin. I was basically a good girl. I didn’t get in trouble, followed the rules and therefore I was “In like Flint”. There are some people in my old system who do know the truth, but I will say most people that I know are deceived and usually obstinate towards those who do know the truth. Most, like myself are cradle Christians, meaning they were born into a particular Christian family and that gives you “religious rights”. No personal decision required. You were Christian because your mom and dad were.
By the age of 20, I was a broken, lost young woman. I was filled with bitterness and anger. Fear was at the front door of my mind and heart and I always opened the door and let it come in and take over. This caused me to become more and more empty, weak and fragile. My knowledge of God meant going to Him in desperate prayer for my requests and wants. I called on Him for emergency and rescue. I knew He was there, somewhere, but in a vague somewhat unreachable way. All I wanted was for Him to take away my pain, fix my life, make my path straight, meet all my needs, provide me with all I wanted and much more, all of which revolved around ME. After all, He was God, wasn’t that what He was supposed to do? It is hard for me to sum up my vague perspective of Who He was.
I tried to fill my life up with “socially acceptable” things; a husband, children, a home, even a part-time job in sales. After all, these were all good things, they gave me a purpose. I soon found out that my “sales job” lost its flavor and I was hungry again for some other filler. I could have chosen alcohol, drugs or other “non socially” accepted things to fill up my life but only by God’s grace, (which I did not know at the time), I did not. By the age of 28, I do not remember ever hearing anything about God’s love or the Biblical Gospel message.
My neighbor and friend shared the Gospel with me and this was the beginning of the healing process that continues to this day. I knew that I was changed within the first few days of my salvation decision but there was so much that God had to “prune” in me that it literally took years. In His graciousness, He didn’t remove all my “bad fruit” in one or two pruning sessions, instead it has been a progressive sanctification with me.
I do not think I could have survived a brutal lopping off of all my unproductive, diseased fruit. I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 28, knowing and believing that I had Salvation, but I didn’t give him access to every area of my heart until about 12 years later. I battled with fears and panic attacks that I finally released over to Him and I believe this was a huge turning point for me.