My parents brought me into the world shortly after the “sexual revolution.” And they were very much a part of the culture, drinking lots of alcohol and popping bennies — the amphetamines of the day. In that epoch, it wasn’t unpopular for pregnant women to drink alcohol, so I was dosed on wine from the womb.
But something happened after my fourth birthday. My parents decided to get “religion.” So they had us kids baptized in the Lutheran church. Someone at that time must have told me about Jesus, because I remember kneeling by my bed and asking Him to come into my heart.
A year later, we painted the house, packed up our belongings, and headed out of the big city of Simi Valley to small town, USA.
There we joined a little white Methodist church with a steeple bell that rang each Sunday to announce the service. When I came of age, I pulled the rope and sounded the gong myself: a great memory.
Other fond memories of that time still bring a smile to my face: great friends; fellowship; food; Sunday school; Kids of the Kingdom; vacation Bible school; ice cream socials; the invasion of box-elder bugs; and more. But something else happened in that church, something that almost destroyed me: I was raped.
Before you get the wrong idea, I was not physically raped, but spiritually. I was taught false doctrine that spiraled me into unencumbered sin and debauchery. What was this strange teaching that violated my innocence?
I was told that since I had asked Jesus into my heart, I was signed, sealed, and delivered into the kingdom of God. Nothing could snatch me away from His loving arms. He would never leave me nor forsake. And I believed it. Oh glorious day! My sins were washed away. I had been saved, so I was always saved forever and ever.
What a relief to a sinner like me, who liked to lie and cheat and steal. So I grew up confident in myself, convinced of my salvation, and content to keep on sinning.
[As a side note, I do believe in eternal security. But I still have not found the chapter and verse that tells me all I need to do to get to heaven is ask Jesus into my heart.]
As I approached my teen years, a new development turned my life upside down. My parents decided to leave the Methodist church because it was too “progressive” by accepting homosexuals into the leadership of the church.
We joined a small “home” church which brought more fond memories of food, fun, and fellowship with friends. I learned new songs like, “I’m just a child, my life is still before me, I just can’t wait to see what God has for me, but I know that I will trust Him and I’ll wait to see what life will be for me.” I remember the pastor’s annoying daughter, Jayme, who grew up to be a wonderful friend.
But there was more.
I learned another pernicious teaching that confirmed me in my sin: the doctrine of “the carnal Christian.” And it made perfect sense. After all, I had already asked Jesus into my heart. I couldn’t lose my salvation. I could choose to live my life as a carnal Christian and all would be well. FYI — a carnal Christian is one who lives according to the fleshly desires, rather than according to the Spirit of Christ.
This new teaching cemented my belief system. I could have my ticket to heaven and live like hell — all because I had asked Jesus into my heart. Woohoo! Of course I didn’t’ really celebrate this. I didn’t need to. It was just the core belief which directed the course of my life. I really thought it was the normal Christian life. And to be fair — I was a REALLY GOOD carnal Christian.
I had my first full cigarette around the age of 14. Thank you, brother Brian, for enlightening me in this area. And teaching me to inhale. Only real smokers inhale. What a buzz. I loved it. Then there was the alcohol. First time I got drunk was at some friends house. I was so greedy. There were so many different choices — I chose them all. Of course, it was NOT so much fun when my parents found out. Nor did I enjoy waking the next day vomiting, with a headache that wouldn’t quit. I spent the whole next day in bed (when I wasn’t bowing to the porcelain goddess).
By sweet sixteen I was sneaking out the house, drinking to excess every chance I could get, and experimenting with every drug I could get my hands on. By age seventeen, I wasn’t sweet anymore. Now I was seeking approval through the inappropriate affection of men, mostly boys. Life was one big party for me.
Yet — I was a very good person. Insecure, but good. I loved God; held down a job; had a strong work ethic; and held myself in very high regard. The insecurity came from a longing in my heart for unconditional love. At this age, my father had rejected me because I was not living up to the example that he had hoped. He never recognized that I merely reflected the doctrine the church taught me from childhood. Since my dad didn’t give me the love and affection I needed, I sought it elsewhere. But it was empty. So empty.
I was only attracted to “bad boys,” and bad boys don’t make good relationships. Plenty of “nice guys” tried to pursue me, but what interest would I have in a nice guy? TOO BORING! I might tell them about the love of Jesus; but I didn’t have to date them.
So my life spiraled until I found myself in a relationship (if it can be so called) with a married man. Yep. Adultery. That is number seven on the big ten. But at that same time (I was in my early 20’s), I met a boy who I fell in love with. I broke off the adulterous relationship and moved in with my new boyfriend. He was a “bad boy” too. But we managed a two-year relationship.
It was then that God began to do a work in my heart. He was drawing me to himself. I began to feel guilty for living with someone who was not my husband (still a violation of number 7 — btw). So I rented a small studio apartment near the Kern River.
This didn’t stop me from fornicating, but it did make me feel a little better. My boyfriend was unhappy about the situation and broke up with me. I took the opportunity to see other men. This made my ex-boyfriend jealous. He asked me to get back together with him, even offering me an engagement ring. I accepted. But something had changed in my heart. If someone wanted to marry me — they would no longer be a “bad boy.” Besides I was enjoying my single status. I began to scorn him in my heart, treating him worse than a pair of discarded shoes. And that’s when it happened.
I got pregnant.
The child was his; there were no other possibilities. The idea of a new life growing inside brought me great joy. But for some reason, the animosity in my heart, a loathing really for the father caused me to be mean and spiteful to him continuously. I was so foolish and clueless, thinking he would marry me no matter what (after all I was having his baby).
But I was wrong.
When I was three months pregnant, he broke up with me, suggesting I have an abortion.
You’d think I’d be happy. After all, I couldn’t stand the guy, right?
My crooked little heart surprised me. You won’t believe what happened next.
Find out in the next installment: How God Turned This Wretch into a Treasure: part two.
Never Miss A Thing
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