|Photo by Mary Lynch|
I have a special treat and feature for you. I am opening up my Faith section for all to share their testimonies.
You do not have to be a blogger, you just have to know Jesus. Share your story by contacting me. Let's glorify Him and tell our stories. Welcome to your very own place for faith! Please contact me if you would like to be featured and see Stacy's permanent place here at Beneath The Surface: Breath of Faith under the Faith Tab above! Special thanks to Stacy who stepped out boldly to give us a glimpse into her journey.
Thank you, Stacy!
Going to Sunday school, church services, and Vacation Bible School were accepted parts of growing up in my family. Not going wasn't even an option. I can't say what was in or not in anyone else's heart, but I'd guess we did those things because it was the accepted social norm for conservative small town America in the 1960s and 1970s. I say that because other than saying a blessing at dinner time or a childish bedtime prayer, God didn't really come into play in our lives. There was no other prayer, no talking about the things of God, no reading or studying of His word outside of church, and we certainly didn't go to Bible studies or extra services. There was definitely no talk about salvation or having a personal relationship with Jesus. As far as I can remember, and from what I can see in family members today, the thinking was that if we went to church and lived right....we were good with God.
We moved to the town and neighborhood I still live in just as I was starting junior high. My dad's family is here so we just started going to the church his family had always attended. Whenever we'd visited family I'd gone to Sunday school there with my cousins so it wasn't completely unfamiliar to me. I can tell you now that it was a lot more conservative than the United Methodist churches I'd gone to up until then. I couldn't tell you back then because I wasn't listening. I really didn't care about the "God stuff" and while I might have learned to enjoy myself if I'd had a close social circle as I'd had in previous churches, that wasn't the case. In fact, all of the kids at the new church had pretty much been born into it, cutting their teeth on the prayer rail as they like to say in their adulthood. They had all grown up together and formed closed groups. They never accepted or included me. Is it any wonder I grew to hate going to church? I often skipped out of Sunday school, leaving the church to wander the neighborhood, and returning in time to sit with my parents for the service. About the time I started high school, flea markets were becoming a big Sunday thing in the area and my parents caught the bug. They quit going to church so they could go to the flea markets. Smart kid that I was, I expressed an interest in flea markets and in short order I was freed from church to tag along.
In the following years I became a more "spiritual" person, but not in the right way. I took a philosophy course in high school that was taught by a woman who followed an eclectic mix of Eastern and New Age teachings. She introduced those to her classes through a variety of experiences and speakers. I didn't adopt her beliefs, but she opened my mind to spiritual exploration and over the next few years I dabbled in a lot of things, including witchcraft. I was what Christians call a "seeker." I knew there had to be something more out there, but I didn't know what it was and I was trying on everything for size.
While I was in college God started "knocking on my door." It seemed that no matter what I did I always had at least one devoutly Christian friend that would just not give up on trying to get me to go to church or youth fellowship. Those pesky Christians kept God in my mind and I believed in him, but I honestly believe my ears were shut to the message of salvation because I am sure I must have heard it several times over from them and also from our family church (which we still attended from time to time), but have no memory of it at all, not even in a general sense.
When my husband and I got married it was important to me that we were married in the church and it meant something to me that we spoke our vows before God. Still, I wasn't hearing the message of salvation. We moved to Florida after our marriage and our first landlords were a dear, older couple who just happened to be devout Christians. They took us under their wing like we were family, watching out for us, helping us out, advising us.....all while trying to get us to go to church. We finally gave in and one Sunday we went to theirs. We hated it. It was one of the early mega churches in Orlando. It had four or five services on Sunday mornings with at least 500 attending each service. A virtual army of ministers ran things. In the middle of the service they asked all the new people to stand up, calling attention to them, praying for them, and welcoming them exuberantly. We were completely overwhelmed and never went back.
From there we moved back to Pennsylvania and moved in with my recently widowed grandmother. Nana never had much to say about God, but she never let up on asking us to go to church with her. We gave in a few times, but mostly I used the excuse of it being too much trouble with a baby in tow. Then came the days that my husband was working in the area where we currently live and staying with my parents while I was still at my grandmother's home nearly 200 miles away. My grandmother's sister was bi-polar and was going through a rough patch at that same time and my grandmother would go to stay with her for days at a time. That left me alone with a baby, out in the country, with no car to go anywhere. I was not a very happy person. Late one night during one of those periods when I was alone at the house I found a little paperback book my grandmother had probably seen on TV and sent away for. It talked about salvation and explained what it meant and told how to pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart. I was so miserable then and wanted something more so I prayed that little prayer meaning it with everything I had in me and it was like the clouds parted and the sun finally came back into my life. I felt so peaceful.
I wish I could say I jumped right into the Christian life after that, but it's been a long and often uphill journey to where I am today. Not long after I prayed that prayer we found a house to rent here and moved out of my grandmother's home. We had lots of family around and life was busy. We didn't look for a church. It was right around Easter, when I was pregnant with my daughter that I began to feel a pretty much UN-ignorable urging to get my family into a church. My aunt was going to Maundy Thursday service at the same church I had hated so much when I was growing up and asked if I'd like to go. The service touched me so much that I ended up speaking with the pastor afterward and making arrangements for him to get us settled into Sunday school classes that Sunday...Easter. I began to learn and grow in my relationship with the Lord, but it was slow going. It wasn't until we became friends with the associate pastor and his wife and later the pastor and his wife that my relationship with the Lord literally exploded! They recognized a calling on my life that I didn't yet see and they encouraged me, held me accountable and challenged me. In three short years I went from being a timid pew warmer to a (still admittedly timid) church leader. I led youth group, taught Sunday school, led mission trips, served on the church council (even becoming, at the time, the first woman and youngest president), sat on the denomination's regional board.....the things I ended up doing were amazing to me and I could not have done them on my own. It was ALL God and I give Him all credit and glory and praise!
See more of Stacy, here!