A place of writing and reflection…
The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.
If I had to sum up my life I would have to say “purposely planned”. I say this because looking back all the way up until now; I see God’s hand upon every detail of it.
I grew up in a non-Christian home. The concept of God was rather…abstract. “The Man Upstairs” as I remembered my grandmother saying. Noah’s Ark was merely a child’s story book on a shelf in the living room. Oddly enough, the family heirloom was a black leather bound Bible. I still remember its tattered pages and badly damaged cover kept in a box under my brother’s bed.
On one other occasion, during my mother’s yearly closet cleaning, she pulled out two large white Bibles. I remember flipping through them as their covers intrigued me. White leather, gold trim and a picture of Jesus on the cover like the one that hung above my bed. I thumbed through the pages with what seemed to me too much text to read. I glanced at the reprints of paintings inside and asked where they came from. Mom said my dad’s mom had them made for us – one for me and one for my brother. With that, once the closet was cleaned there the Bibles were returned.
That was probably the last time my hands touched a Bible until I was fifteen.
Up until then I struggled – with fear, with depression, with hatred and a variety of other things. My family wasn’t horrible, but they weren’t perfect either. Even more so they were unable to help me, nor did they know how.
My grandmother battled depression from scars life had handed her. Prescription drugs made the problem worse and the psychiatrist she was seeing passed all the blame of her past problem down to her grandchildren – my brother and I.
“They’re your problem; your source of pain.”
My mom, widowed since I could remember tried her best, but carried fears and scar of her own. My father had been an angry man according to her, and abusive till the day he died. Much of this attitude began to show up in my brother – something I believe she feared.
My brother was not a people person, as goes the same for the rest of my household (of course my picking as the older sister never helped). Sometimes he could be down right mean. As we grew older he would turn violent.
At fifteen I would cry myself to sleep most nights. I struggled making friends. My life was a mess. Worse still, I could tell no one. It had to stay a secret. No one could see what was really going on. Under the pressure I considered suicide but was always too scared of what I might find on the other side. Nightmares and dreams showed it couldn’t be pretty, but what else was there?
One day in my first year of high school, my best friend and neighbor invited me to church. I was afraid to ask my mom to go for fear of her saying no. (She was always concerned of the world’s worst happening.)
Surprisingly enough, she said yes. She even dug out a Bible and that Sunday I went to church.
The service was half English, half Spanish. When the pastor made the altar call, my friend asked me if I wanted to go. Not completely sure of what I was doing, Pastor Roland asked if I knew God.
“No,” I answered.
“Do you want to know Him?”
With that he prayed for me and I tried my best to follow along with the prayer. Nothing much happened. Still, I knew I wanted to go back. After church I asked my mom if I could to which she said yes with an expression of surprise.
I joined the youth, attended services and activities every chance I got, but I had to learn the Bible from scratch.
While everyone present knew the stories of Adam and Eve, or Cain and Abel I was hearing them for the first time and I was hungry for it.
My parents thought I was crazy. They always suspected it but now they had a reason to believe it.
Problems soon arose in the church after the youth leaders left and another took their place. I only remember sitting in on one of his lessons as I had begun helping in other areas of the church, but that one lesson in comparison to what was happening there turned me off to the church.
At that point I stepped out.
I lived life like normal – or as normal as possible. I went to school, I listened to Christian music still, but I don’t think I picked up my Bible as much.
Then one day the same friend, who invited me to church the first time, invited me back.
“There’s a new youth leader,” she said.
Somewhat suspicious I decided to go. My first impression was not the best, but I hung in there anyway. I planted myself back in the church – God making a tremendous impact in my life, particularly in my senior year.
I did Bible study with a few other students at school. I stayed even after a terrible split in the church. Half went to Irving while the rest stayed behind. It was not long though, before I too, followed the Irving group.
This was when I began to grow closely acquainted with the people I would later come to call “Mi otro familia.”
Eva became my closest and best friend despite our age difference. I remember many nights in the drive way talking about God and life for three, four, maybe five hours into the night.
I stepped further into the ministry which began to put a strain on my relationships at home. My family wanted me to stay home. Work and home – that’s about it. God would have to wait.
But that’s not how it works.
Thus, I continued working and ministry against the coldness I began to feel towards it at home. Sometimes it was received well – but of the majority not.
I worked a few different jobs after graduation, most of which were far from my dream job. I still clung to my Bible, church and ministry.
It wasn’t easy.
There was a lot I couldn’t do, and a lot I should have.
In the months that followed, my life began to unravel – not because of his move but other reasons.
My family pulled at me far worse to step out of ministry and to stay at home. Of course, I still had to keep the job as the income was deemed more important at the time.
Eva talked with me several times about the Bible College in Missouri, especially after they visited her son the following November. It wasn’t long before Grandpa Juanio sat me down for a couple of hours to brag about the place too.
I got frustrated knowing my situation would have to change before I could ever go. I wanted to and even called myself arguing with God about it.
“Why does it have to be like this? Why can’t I be there? Why do You have to rub it in my face if You know I can’t?”
The frustration went on for quite some time, and then one week it all changed.
In a single night I missed my usual bus home because of the holiday, almost got picked up by a stranger for the dozenth time, and got into a fight as soon as I got home. I snuck a text message to Eva begging her to come get me that night.
The next day I went to work with very visible bruising to my face and had to decide if I really wanted to go back into that. I couldn’t. My family was mad, but I had to go.
The question was to where?
My youth pastor brought up a possibility to that one:
“What do you think about Heartland,” he asked.
“I have to go.”
It took me no deliberation at all. One of the biggest decisions of my life and I made it in about two seconds.
In the days that followed, I said my goodbyes, got a change of address, high school transcripts, and collected clothes from familia after I spent my last fifteen dollars on toiletries. That Friday, Johann showed up with a rental car, loaded up and left for Missouri.
A seventeen hour drive and two nights later I found myself in the girls’ Bible College housing and two years later I graduated. It wasn’t easy. At times it was down right hard. I had to deal with a lot of issues and baggage I didn’t realize I had. Now a year since graduation I work full time at a graphic design business and teach nine and ten years olds in my weekly Stars class. On top of that, in less than thirty days I marry the man who came before me – Charles.
Yes, my life has been indeed “purposely planned”!
Copyright The Faithbook 2012