Testimonies always start with how a person was raised. So, I'll start there.
For the most part, I was raised in a Christian home. My mom was a Christian - she took us to church and kept us involved. My dad didn't go to church until I was a little older, but later he became a strong Christian and has even served as a Deacon. I am my parent's firstborn child. I'm also the oldest grandchild. My family had high hopes for me and there was a lot of pressure to make everyone proud. I was baptized as a young child because I didn't want to be the last kid to go forward at church. Nothing too out of the ordinary with my upbringin'. When I was in the 8th grade, I got my first kiss and smoked my first cigarette. I was the new kid at school and loved all the attention I got. I think I sort-of got addicted to the shock-and-awe attention from my classmates. Fast forward to high school. I lost my virginity to a boy I knew I'd be with forever, except forever only lasted a year. I dated a string of boys and men, and get deep into the party life. By 15, I was smoking cigarettes, sneaking out, drinking daily, drinking and driving, sleeping with my boyfriends (some my age-ish, some adults), lying to my parents, cussing like a sailor, smoking pot, taking prescription pills, going to parties... it was all so easy to get sucked in. I lost a lot of friends...a lot of girls talked bad about me. I went to a church camp in the 10th grade, where I felt God speaking to me. I rededicated my life and even got baptized again - I wanted it on the correct side of my salvation. But..it didn't stick. It was too easy to have "fun." People from school called me a slut, a drunk, a party-girl, a pot head. It hurt, but I was having fun and just called them "jealous." My parents and I argued all the time, about everything from grades to where I was, who I was with, and the boys I dated. College was the same. I was always skipping class to get drunk or high. I dated another string of boys. I started selling pot to make some extra money on the side. When my parents found out I was teaching my sister everything I knew about buying, selling, and smoking pot...the gravy train ended. They stopped paying my rent, stopped giving me money at all, and said they would no longer be paying my tuition. I deserved it...but I was so angry at them. Our relationship crumbled, and so did I. I dropped out of college, started waiting tables full time at Ruby Tuesday. I pretty much stayed in a stupor for a while...I used a variety of drug and alcohol combinations to stay numb. Eventually, I met Mr. Robinson. We fell in love and I knew if I had any chance of holding onto this guy, I would have to change my ways. He was, after all, a Christian.
Mr. Robinson taught me all about unconditional love. He loved me even though I kept hurting him and pushing him away. He tried to talk to me about Jesus all the time, but I didn't want to hear it. One night, when I was at a low point, he invited me to church with him. I accepted, even though I was terrified. My parents came to go to church with us, and gradually the relationship I had with them improved. Mr. Robinson made me so happy...he made me realize that the only reason I felt like I had to stay drunk or high was to forget my reality. If he could be reality, I'd have nothing I needed to forget. I stopped smoking pot and partying. I told him that I loved him and meant it. I already knew he loved me, but he said it back anyway. We made it official - we were "boyfriend and girlfriend" after almost 6 months of him trying to woo me and me scampering away. He gave me a journal and I started to pray and read my Bible. I asked God to forgive me and I started to work on the relationship I had with Him...and on all the relationships I had damaged over the years. Again, I lost a lot of friends. My drinking buddies and drug dealers didn't think I was much fun anymore. My definition of fun had changed without me even knowing it... Within two weeks of us being official , we were planning our wedding. :) Another two weeks, I had an engagement ring. God used Mr. Robinson to bring me back to Him.
I did so many things that I regret. I'm thankful for where I am now, but there are so many mistakes in my past I wish I could have avoided. But Jesus claimed my sins as His own and God forgave me. I read my Bible because I want to. I have a desire to learn more about God, to learn from the people He inspired, and to better myself. I pray all the time - for others, for myself, and for my marriage. I say thank You for the things I am thankful for and I love on the people I count as blessings. I love going to church and being with with like-minded people, instead of dreading it like I used to. I listen to the Praise and Worship channel on Pandora and praise God while I get ready for work. I encourage other people, I invite other people to church because I want everyone to experience God's love, and I use the talents that God blessed me with for HIS glory. When I'm upset about something, I pray. I read my Bible. I seek God. I don't get drunk or high. I ask God to be my strength and to get me through anything I go through. I have faith that someone smarter & bigger than me has a plan for my life. I know that there is a bigger picture out there that is fabulous, even though I can't see it. I know that I have nothing to fear and I know who is in control. I know that no matter where I am, who I'm with, or what I'm doing...God has given me a how-to manual. I have peace, and it is well with my soul.
I hope that you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. It has completely turned my life around and it truly does make all the difference! If any of y'all have any questions, I'd be happy to share my knowledge and experience with you - leave a comment or e-mail me at MyNewWifeLife@aol.com.