I was raised in a single parent Christian home. I went to a private school and considered myself a Christian by the third grade. I was surrounded by people in the faith my whole life, and was surprised when I met people who did not believe in Jesus.
In the middle of the fifth grade I was placed in the local public school and hated it. I was disgusted with the quality of everything in the school, especially in the classroom. I was for the first time in my life surrounded by people who were not Christians. I did not like it and was uncomfortable with the whole situation. I was incredibly bored with school and ended up skipping most of the sixth grade. I was a new seventh grader in the middle of the year and was labeled as a “smart one.” I really disliked that and was having a hard time with family conflicts. Instead of turning toward God I ran to drugs and alcohol.
I was a daily drinker and drug user from the start. I left early for school everyday to get high and to plan how to stay high all day. I was twelve years old and totally out of control. I drank hard liquor, popped many pills, and smoked pot constantly. After almost two years of this lifestyle I wanted to die. My mother and my best friend told me that I was an alcoholic. I laughed, my mom was a prude in my book and my friend was a crank head, so they were both disqualified to give me any input. Yet for some reason those comments really irked and ate at me. I was done with life and did not have hope for a future. In a desperate moment I asked God for help and I felt a peace that I had not felt for a long time. I felt that maybe everything was not so hopeless.
I found new friends and started going to church. I went to youth group, but felt different from the kids there. I did not feel like I belonged and that peace slowly began to fade. I felt crazy all the time. I tried very hard to stay away from drugs and alcohol, but if I ended up some place where it was available to me I used them. I heard someone share their story of drug and alcohol use, that they were an alcoholic and that they were now sober. I was ecstatic because I had not ever related to someone so much and I figured that now I knew what my problem was there was something that could be done about it.
I told a friend who introduced me to someone who went to AA. I went to a meeting that Thursday and though everyone in that room was more than 10 years my senior, I felt at home. I thought that I had a chance now to someday be happy. It took working through the steps and learning about God for me to feel better. At first God to me was the God I grew up with in the Bible. After developing many friends in the program I began to learn that they did not have the same view of God that I did. I really started to wonder if what I believed was true, why did all these people recover from alcoholism and have their prayers answered if we were not praying to the One and Only True God?
This began a long, hard road of discovering God. I began reading books about other religions, but always felt that what I was reading was wrong or bad. I wrote it off to being brain washed and kept on my way. I studied Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Hare Krishna, and Wicca. At one point or another I considered myself all of these religions and then finally a basic new-ager.
I was very promiscuous in college, and got myself into some bad situations. At 21 I moved in with a guy and became engaged. It was soon apparent that my fiance was not going to be able to stay sober, and that I needed to get out of the relationship. Shortly after coming to that conclusion I found out that I was pregnant. I really did not know what to do. I felt trapped and was mad for getting myself and my baby into such a mess.
I stayed engaged to this guy even though I knew that I could not marry him. I just did not know what to do. I went to visit some friends and there was an old boyfriend there. I realized when I saw him that I was in love with him, not the guy I was engaged to and pregnant with his child. I wanted to talk to him and let him know how I felt but didn’t. Two weeks later he died in a car accident.
My fiance wanted to get married before we had the baby. I was torn between what seemed right and what I thought would work. We did not marry — thank God. Everything in and around my daughter being born was difficult. We had a two day labor, c-section and she had to be rushed to another hospital with an infant ICU. I had to wait two days to see her again. I thought I had it rough, but it was just the beginning.
I started working as a live in nanny shortly after my daughter was born. Her father and I were kind of off and on, kind of like his drug use. My daughter was a very demanding baby and I needed help. When she was three months old her eyes were looking really odd so I took her to the doctor to see what was wrong. He did not give a diagnosis, but sent us in to get some blood work done. Everything came back normal, but I was sure that something was wrong so I took her to the hospital. Cat scans were done and Child Protective Services was called. There was an investigation and my precious daughter was placed into foster care. She saw four doctors and none of them came to a conclusion as to what happened. I was asked all kinds of questions and after two extremely long months she was back with me. I had home visits for about a year and then was given full custody of my daughter.
This started a long trip of hating God and most people. Even though my daughter was back, it didn’t change that she was gone. I prayed for other people but not for myself for two years. I was a walking time bomb. You could not believe the anger I was carrying. One day I opened the fridge and there was alcohol in there and for the first time in 8 years it looked really good. I felt God say, “Get right with me or you will use again.” The last thing I wanted was to be a drunk mother. I loved my little lady too much and did not want to give her that kind of life.
I did some basic things I had learned in the program to get on track. I was still angry all the time though. I did not know what to do with the anger, and I had to do something cause it was consuming me. I went to a puja which is a Hindu worship ceremony. I talked to the leader and he gave me a mantra to say everyday. I did it everyday for two weeks and at the end of those two weeks I found myself able to pray for myself! It was wonderful. I was slowly seeking God again. I was starting to see that there were some very special things about Christianity that are not present in other religions. I did not like that at first because the last thing I wanted was to be one of those close minded, judgmental Christians!
I was 25 and dating a 19 year old (right). I was becoming more and more sure that what the Bible said was right. I knew that I was doing things that God did not approve of and did not want to stop. I went to visit an old friend who used to swap Buddhist books with me but had become a Christian. He came into my room looking very nervous, he was shaking! I asked him what was wrong. He said, “Bernie, you know I would not be coming to talk to you about this unless God was asking me to right?” I am not sure I knew what he was talking about but I said yeah. He proceeded to tell me that God loved me and that I needed to turn my life over to Jesus. I told him that I knew that and had been thinking about it lately. He was very surprised and glad. He wanted to know what was stopping me.
I have to tell you now before I say why, that looking back my reason was so lame! I was having sex with my boyfriend and I knew God was not for that and I did not want to give it up. So my wonderful friend told me not to worry about that to accept Christ and he would change my heart. So I prayed to accept Jesus into my heart and to forgive me of my sins with my ex Buddhist friend! We are still friends today and I am so grateful that he listened to God and talked to me even though he was scared.
I started to feel really guilty when I was with my boyfriend. I prayed for God to take the relationship away from me because I just could not walk away. He did and it was very painful. I wanted nothing to do with males and at the same time I wanted a husband to support me so that I could stay home with my daughter.
I kept this whole accepting Christ a secret, especially with my mom. I knew that she had been praying for me for years, and I did not want to disappoint her. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to turn away from God again or something. Shortly after I told her I started to get active in my church, was baptized, and wonderful things began to happen. I was growing really fast. I was reading my Bible everyday and would email questions that I had to my pastor who quickly answered. God put it on my heart to tithe and I did. Every time I did I was blessed. I learned that not only will God provide for those who obey, but he overloads us with great gifts. I started tithing as a single mother who lived with her mother and the county paid for my child’s day care to a single mother making double the average salary for the county that I lived in within a year! I never imagined that we would be provided for so well, it seemed too far out of reach but as Matthew 19:26b states, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
During all this growing I started praying for a husband that I did not have to date (cause I wanted nothing to do with men), loved my daughter as much as I did, and who would make enough money to enable me to stay home with my daughter. I shared this prayer request with my mom and she thought I was off my rocker. I am not easily deterred when I have my mind set on something so on I went with this request. I prayed about it for about a year and then met my husband. He was out on a business trip, so we went out for a week and then he went back home. We phoned, emailed, and flew back and forth to visit for about three months before we decided one of us had to move to see if we were going to get married. I was blessed with a wonderful job (that high paying one in the last paragraph and I was allowed to take my dog to work too!) in a wonderful place (Montana) and we were married within four months of living in the same state! Although neither one of us were virgins when we got married, we did wait until we were married before we had sex. I believe that we have been blessed because of our obedience, and I share this to encourage all who may be in the same boat to wait. You are worth it.
Married life is not easy for me. I did not have an example of what married life should be like or even is. The step family thing does cause extra challenges, but nothing is impossible with God right! There are things I do not understand everything about the Bible — like what it says about family. I am honest with those around me and with God. I know that He can defend Himself and I can ask all the questions I want. I do not know why hard things have to happen in life. What I do know is that God is there and He loves me enough to send His one and only Son to die for my sins.
— Bernadette K.