Monday, October 02, 2006

A Small Part of my Testimony

I don't really have one of those heart-stopping, tear-jerking testimonies to share with you. I did not have problems with alcohol or drugs. I didn't smoke. I wasn't a problem child (perish the thought!). No, it's not a dramatic testimony by far... Sorry!! But there are many things that happened before and after I became a Christian that I think are quite remarkable...

My father was an alcoholic for the first two years of my life. He was, in fact, stone drunk the night I was born ... waiting patiently for my arrival at the local pub. When he meandered back to the hospital to check on my mom, the nurse announced that he had a beautiful (of course!) little girl. He, being the proud, and drunk, papa that he was, firmly told the nurse that she was wrong. He did NOT have a daughter, but rather, a son. The nurse politely corrected him, and asked for a name for me, but ... he had to come to terms with the fact that I was not a boy, and fortunately, would NOT be named after my father, therefore becoming the V-th to carry the family name (whew! It's not a pretty name!).

He wasn't a "mean" drunk ... in fact, he could often be found with his headphones on, listening to classical music or opera, crying his eyes out. I guess that makes him a "melancholy drunk." And, again, the same scene played out when my sister was born two years later. Again, drunk dad, no son! But a few months later, my dad went to get out of bed, only to find that his liver and his body had started to shut down, and he couldn't move. He went to the hospital, got into a detox program, and voila ... sober.

Well, not "voila," because even though he was sober, he still had many "alcoholic tendencies," (like attitudes, anger, lack of responsibility) as well as many painful childhood issues to work through (like being a military brat that moved from country to country, having a mother that hated all the men in the family, and was herself a drunk, and being shipped off to boarding school where he spent many holidays alone).

So, at the tender age of 7-ish, my very Catholic parents got divorced. That was such a painful time in my life. Both my sister and I, being much too young to really understand, felt responsible for the divorce. But, a couple years after the divorce, my dad gave his heart to the Lord through an AA meeting. He began attending charismatic prayer meetings, and he became, as was the "in thing" back in the 70's, a "holy roller." He would witness to my mom, and they would end up in screaming matches. His forwardness about his faith, and his instance that she would surely go to hell if she didn't change her ways did nothing to impress her. My sister and I would cry, not being able to understand what was going on. Then, my dad met another woman and they began to date, and eventually got engaged. We were crushed. My sister and I really wanted our parents to get back together again, not re-marry other people! But my mother, who grew up a devout Catholic, and attended a strict Catholic school through College, would not move from her stand as a Catholic. My sister and I would go to Mass with my mother each week, we attended CCD, and I even had my first communion. Catholics, we were.

Then, one evening, my mother was watching a Billy Graham Crusade, and when he did the alter call, something in her clicked, and she knelt down and gave her life to the Lord. Praise God! She began attending the same prayer meetings my dad was going to, and as they began to mature spiritually, they felt impressed upon by the Lord that they should get remarried. And they did. Every little girl's dream come true! (ummm ... except for the jilted fiance!)

And, life truly changed for us. The power of the Holy Spirit is simply amazing, and when you allow him into your life, the changes are phenomenal. The Lord changed, molded, and matured my father. He brought tenderness and love back into the relationship. They became friends. And, my sister and I accepted the Lord into our hearts. My parents moved us to a Messianic-Jewish School for two years, for which I'm grateful for, because I learned so much about the Jewish faith, their holidays, and their traditions. It is a beautiful faith that was mixed in with Christianity, and the Messianic Jews believed that Jesus was their Savior.

When I went into high school, we were transferred to a Christian high school, where for the very first time in my life, I learned the true meaning of love without condition, and acceptance into the family of God. I became actively involved in leading worship during chapel time, as well as becoming involved with the youth leadership team in our youth group. I was an obedient, peaceful, joyful, although some-what passive-rebellious youth. I had started out as a shy, quiet, reserved youth, and I blossomed into the active, social butterfly I was always meant to be.

I married my high school sweetheart, and that's when difficulties first hit. We struggled to have a "peaceful" relationship. Yes, we loved each other deeply, but it was difficult becoming responsible adults at such a young age. I saw many of my father's "alcoholic tendencies" transferred down to me. I never drank, but boy, did I spend money! It was intoxicating. I would get a rush ... like a temporary high ... when I would spend money. And, it was the only way I knew to hurt my husband. He would use words to hurt me, and I would go and spend all our money. I became a destructive force in our relationship. Yes, I was still very involved in church, and of course, quite self-righteous, because I knew so much about the Bible, and I had been a Christian for so long ... And why wasn't my husband as mature and involved with the church and in ministry as I was? Surely, he needed to get right with God!

It wasn't until years later, many, many struggles later, and a good dose of reality that I realized that the only person that I needed to worry about "getting right with God" was me. I had fallen far away, while living under the illusion that I was close to him. I may have been saved, but I was far from the changed person I needed to be... Something truly had to change.

Both my husband and I (nor my friends and family) didn't realize that I was battling with clinical depression, and anxiety. But, the Lord opened the eyes of my dear OBGYN, who immediately recognized what was wrong with me, and placed me on anti-depressants. It felt like a veil was lifted from my eyes. I began to recognize what I was doing, and was shocked at my behavior. I had become a mean tyrant, and had pushed my husband far, far away from me. And, it was at this point, that my husband and I started to go to counseling, and we began to not only draw closer to each other, but we also drew closer to the Lord. We began to pray together and for each other. We also began to pray that God would change us, mold us, and make us new. And, he did! And let me just say, that there is nothing more rewarding than having a loving relationship with your spouse, and growing closer to the Lord together. Praise God for this precious gift he gave us!

I recognize that I still have many short comings. I am far from perfect. But, I know that I have a powerful savior that can and does change lives. He is my saving grace. He has changed me, molded me, and set me on my feet again. He has taught me charity, and has opened my eyes to a new life in Him. And, he can do the same for you.


Lauren at Created for HIS Glory has invited us to participate in a Bloggy Tour of Testimonies. I invite you to hop on over and check out the many blogs that have joined in this tour, and maybe you'd like to join in too? Just add your name and the link to your post to the Mr. Linky at the bottom of her post!

I pray, that the Lord may use this awesome Tour of Testimonies to bless each one of you in a special, and very deep and profound way!


org junkie said...

I enjoyed reading this Gibee. How wonderful that you and your hubbie are taking your walk together. Thanks for sharing your story. Laura

Susanne said...

Gibee: What an amazing story of God's redeeming love towards you and your hubby! And also with your mom and dad!

Melissa said...

Oh, Gibee! Thank you so much for sharing your heart! God can take all that junk & cast it into the sea...that still amazes me that He does it, but I'm so thankful He does.

Your testimony is a wonderful example of grace & mercy. Blessings, friend.

Heather Smith said...

After having seen you and your hubby in person, it's hard to imagine that you ever had any problem at all. It is evident that you love each other and God! God is so awesome to change us into what He would have us to be!

Faith said...

I've read parts of your testimony before and it is still just as touching! Grace , mercy and forgivness is written all over it!!! Imagine that! Simply wonderful! Mine will go up tomorrow!

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing this great post. God is SO wonderful and isn't it awesome that He loves us too much to let us remain the way we are?

A transformed marriage is proof positive that God exists and can do ALL things!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing your story, and that of your parents too. They are all similar--with God calling us and reaching us--but all so different too.

Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

Thanks for your wonderful testimony! I am loving reading these.

I posted mine just today.

Erna said...

I appreciated your testimony. God is so good! I think it is so important to evaluate our walks with the Lord so we don't get lost in the "illusion of faith" but rather see that we are living it. Good thoughts that were shared in your testimony. God is so good! Your post is also evidence of the power of prayer and I agree that the slogan should be, "Me first!" Change me first, Lord! It's a thought that has been on my heart lately . . . "Me first!" Not him, not them, but me. Change my heart O God . . . may I be like You!

e-Mom said...

Your story is powerful. What a tale of loss and redemption in two generations. The Lord is so good, and he has rescued you and your whole family from much worse. Praise God for his faithfulness. Thanks for sharing.

Lauren said...

you already know how much I love the story of your parent's remarriage, and how similiar I was with my husband early on in our marriage. But I'll tell you they still never cease to amaze me. God is just so good to us!

Nicole said...

Thanks so much for sharing your testimony. I love the story of your dad. I really have a heart for people who struggle with addictions, even though I never have (unless you count overeating!) You know, I didn't know what a "holy roller" was until I start going to my new church and someone called me that! I had to go look it up. lol What a wonderful story of grace, love and redemption.

Dawn said...

It certainly blessed me! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am here via the Blogging Tour of Testimonies. I also did the Beth Moore Study with y'all!

Your testimony moved me to tears. As so many of them have ;-) Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for your honesty. God has surely moved me through you. Thank you for allowing yourself to be open for that.

God Bless.