My grandparents were survivors of the Armenian massacre. They very rarely could even speak of the horrors they went through. But I know they had nightmares about it until the day they died. I think this is part of why they were so overprotective and strict with me. My grandparents were a big part of my childhood. They were very strong, loving, protective people but their way of loving and protecting me was to instill the fear of God in me. They would tell me I would go to hell and be punished forever if I was bad and God would know if I was bad because He could see me all the time.
Even though they tried to protect me, when I was four years old I was sexually molested by different people. It went on for a while. I was too afraid to tell anyone what was happening to me. I was full of shame, guilt and fear. I was a very serious and sad child. I hardly ever laughed and couldn’t understand why other people did.
I was fearful, depressed and sad much of the time. I didn’t understand why. My parents were divorced, I basically never really had a father. My mother had many health and emotional issues, she tried the best she could but it was hard. I had two brothers and two sisters and most of the time we didn’t even know where our next meal was coming from. We lived in ten different places in fourteen years.
I had heard of God and Jesus Christ. We would go to church on Easter and Christmas. I remember sometimes I would pray to God asking him to help me but mostly I remember being afraid or mad at God because I believed he was going to punish me if I was “bad” and of course I always felt like I was bad no matter how hard I tried.
I was always full of fear, guilt, shame and condemnation. I kind of did believe God made me, so I sometimes blamed God for everything that was wrong with my life, and for everything that was wrong with the world.
I began drinking when I was about fourteen years old and remained an alcoholic for the next twenty-one years. I looked for answers and love in all the wrong places. I suffered through many years of sin along with the consequences of sin. Loneliness, sadness and deep depression were my constant companions. There was such a painful emptiness in my heart and life. I could find nothing to fill it.
During one of the worst times in my life, when I really wanted to die a friend called me and met me for lunch. We talked for a while then she showed me a little card with “Footprints” written on it. I had never seen it before.
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."
When it says during the tough times there was only one set of foot prints, I’m saying to myself, “Yeah, that’s right, only one set of foot prints. Where were you?” Then in the next part when it says, “child that’s when I carried you,” I felt a sudden truth hit me. I knew I had believed a lie about God and that he was there even when I didn’t know him and when I blamed him for everything. Iknew in a flash he was with me—even in the darkest times he was with me.
I went and bought a bible and I prayed and I said, “God I don’t understand this.” The next thing I knew I ran into a friend who told me about bible class. I took the class and that’s when I began to seek God. I learned that God loved me and that Jesus Christ died for me—for me! Yes, I was bad (the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked), but I wasn’t the only one that was bad. We all are without God, but we can be forgiven. When I heard God provided a savior for me, it made me want to know him and love him and obey him. That truth just set me free.
I was so lost and without hope in this world until I learned the truth about God’s love. It was like going from night to day. I finally had the only comfort, the only security, the only peace and joy I always wanted. I found this all in him and it’s there abundantly. I still fight for it and I have to keep fighting for it. It’s not like life is like a bowl of cherries, but I go to God and he helps me. My life is a walk with God towards the light and not darkness, toward freedom and not bondage, towards joy not sadness. And I just know I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for God. Where would I be without God?
God is changing lives all the time. Maybe you'd like to find out what he can do in your life? Why not visit Living Hope this Sunday? Click here for more information.