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My Testimony

You don't choose what to believe in; what you believe in chooses you.


Why would anyone want to be a Christian?


Who would want a book, the Bible, to govern their relationships and choices all their life? What is the allure of gathering in a building to sing and listen to a pastor talk? Who would choose to go against the basic beliefs of the world and be an outsider to many?


No one would, because no one who becomes a Christian wants or chooses.  When a person turns their life over to God it is not because of logic or the attraction of anything they will receive in the after life.    It is out of desperation, once a person realizes that this life has nothing to offer them.  Only then can they truly love and trust God.


I have revised this testimony a few times.  Although I have never been a strong believer in people baring all during their testimonies, spending the majority of the time talking about how bad they were and a little about how they came to know God, I feel it's important to share my biggest struggles.  Much of what I write about has been things I've learned the hard way, and sometimes even then don't seem to get it right all the time.


A testimony doesn't end when one is converted to Christ.  A testimony is an ongoing journey where we don't just become a Christian; we grow and mature as one.  Mine continues to go on, and as much as I would love to say the road has been smooth, it has had its share of bumps.


I was born in Western Canada into a good Christian family.  Although my childhood memories are sparse I remember making a commitment to Christ.  I couldn't have been more than about six or seven years old.


Ever since I was a young child, I craved attention, especially male.  I had crushes on my older male Sunday school, elementary, junior and high school teachers.  I yearned to feel wanted and needed, and it didn't make sense to me.  I had a nice, normal loving family.


Anytime an unnatural desire is present and isn't dealt with but ignored or attempted to satisfy, it will turn into a longterm struggle, growing each time it is fed.  My parents knew from a young age what my tendancies were, when they intercepted a letter from a much older, retired school teacher when I was in the eighth grade.  We both enjoyed writing stories, poetry, etc. and that was teh extent of what our letters were about.  My folks told me it was wrong and unnatural, but they didn't explain why.  I was crying out for attention and writing to him made me feel special.  My mom finding my letter and reading it, and her and my dad getting angry with me hurt me and left me more confused.  My struggle was not acknowledged and dealt with, it was pushed to the side.


I always felt ugly and awkward in school.  I was very skinny and had to wear braces.  None of the guys in school seemed interested.  Then I attended a youth group in junior high where I met lots of new boys.  Although I wasn't allowed to date, I got involved with a few of them - the extent of it being hanging out together at youth group and maybe the odd time going with a group to a movie.  The other girls didn't like me because I always had to have a boy.  I invested much more time with the guys than forming healthy relationships with the girls.  I just got more satisfaction out of being someone's girlfriend.  Going from having no one looking at you to suddenly being popular with the guys was overwhelming for me, and an ego boost.


Parents, a young girls need for love and attention (especially if it's from older men and yes, women) is a very real and destructive desire if they fall into the hands of the wrong person.  If this were not so, the Every Woman's Battle, Every Young Woman's Battle, and similar books would not be so popular.  It is a struggle so subtle at first, and can be so dangerous.  It is often the wrong kinds of people who will latch on to a hurting, confused young person.  And the internet is making it far more dangerous.  Monitor who your children are talking to, but instead of getting angry or making threats, encourage them to discuss their needs and assure them you understand.   A teenager who is lacking something in their life may think they find it in an online romance, but often that person is NOT who they say they are.


I highly recomend the books mentioned above.  They are not a quick fix, in fact I have read EWB three times and still struggle.  But they help to pin point the problem a young woman may not know is even a problem, and explain why.


I attended church and was a professing Christian but I didn't really live it and grew complacent in my faith.  I listened to the wrong kinds of music, watched the wrong kinds of movies, wore the wrong kinds of clothes and was in the wrong kinds of relationships.  At that point I didn't take life seriously and didn't realize that I was setting the mood for my adult years.


Adulthood came, and for the first time in my life I was on my own and didn't have to answer to my parents.  Work kept me from church, as it was almost impossible to get a Sunday off.  I rarely did devotions but I did pray.  And I attended a college and career group, which included a bible study; however, this too became more like a social time than a time for spiritual growth.  It was like youth group all over again only this time I managed to make friends with a lot of the girls.  But as soon as guys started showing interest I lost my focus on the bible studies and centered it on them. 


I met a few guys in the group who I thought had potential for marriage.  They seemed Godly and stable.  In both instances, God ended it before it even had a chance to get going.  After a month of dating, I was dumped, rejected.  I couldn't understand why, it had seemed so ideal? It would be years before I would find out it was God's hand working - one of those 'ideal' guys was a pathological liar and had lied about everything, and in such a way that even though I knew it was a lie, I still felt because he was so wonderful that there must be some misunderstanding.  That's what he wanted me and others to think too.   The other, who broke up with me to get back with his ex turned out to be more materialistic and negative than he led on.  He disliked his wife's friends and they are basically cut off from the outside world, aside from his friend who is of course allowed to spend time with them.  No friends, and the last I heard, no church - because no church was 'good enough'.


Pay attention to red flags in relationships, and don't ignore that certain feeling you seem to get when something is wrong.  Mine is undeniable - naseau, anxiety, and a loss of appetite.  Still you would be surprised how many times I tried to power through those nagging feelings to get what I wanted.


Our C&C group dwindled away to nothing, as people were going back to school, moving, getting married.  I met the wrong kinds of guys through work and I made a lot of bad decisions.  Many times felt so broken I swore I was going to change my life for God.  But once the stormy skies cleared I forgot about my tears and life went on.


I wanted acceptance, admiration and the feeling of being wanted and needed so badly, I compromised my faith and morals for it.  I gravitated to any guy who seemed interested, whether I saw a future or not.   I always swore it would be the last time, and the next time around would be the right guy.  But the wrong one always seemed to be in my path at opportune times - when I was feeling my lowest, and lonely.  Instead of remembering the pain and suffering I jumped right back into the pit, because my desire to be wanted was much, much stronger than my desire to live for God.


Still stinging from the rejection of my 'nice, Christian boyfriends' I met a guy who was opposite of what I wanted.  Smoker, non-Christian, rough around the edges, not overly stable financially.  The only reason I fell for him was because of how much he wanted to be with me.  I lied to myself about his qualities (or lack thereof) and actually tricked myself into believing he was right for me - if he would just become a Christian.


The next year and a half was an ongoing battle.  If he were pleasant and kind it would have made a big difference, Christian or not.  But he was negative and critical.  My mom used to say when he was around me I acted as if my spirit had been crushed.  I was always afraid to say the wrong thing in fear of criticism and his temper.  I allowed myself to be beaten down mentally because I believed I loved him, and if he would just become a Christian we could get married and everything would change.


He attended church with me, and hated it.  The pastor would give an excellent message and I would pray it got through to him.  But after church he would want to rush out and get on with our day.  I was limited to how long I could spend with my friends.  It upset him if it was more than a few hours.  One time he even came out looking for me because I was at a girlfriend's until midnight.  He was insanely jealous and got angry with me if a guy called (even if I hadn't initiated it) or if I said hello to a guy on the street I knew, and didn't introduce my boyfriend.


It is amazing what you talk yourself into accepting when you have a low self-esteem.  I forgot all about the man I dreamed of marrying, a moral man with a heart for Christ.


My older brother summed it up for me quite simply.  He said, "Shannon, when you get married you don't want dirty ash trays and beer cans on the coffee table.  You want a stack of James Dobson magazines!"


After a brief break-up, my boyfriend said he became a Christian.  He went through all the motions and even started talking with the pastor.  I took him back, but within 2 weeks he had went right back to where he was.  Each time we broke up, he came back appearing to be more and more Godly.  Reluctantly, we got engaged, and that familiar sick, persistent feeling plagued me (or maybe saved me?).


I believe this was another case where God stepped in.  I had ignored all the signs, jumping over the 'road blocks' God set up, as if they were hurdles.  I believe God orchestrated a blow-up between my boyfriend and I where his true colors would not only be revealed, but be so clear to me I couldn't go on if I wanted to.


I ended it.  He stomped out of my apartment and slammed the door.  I removed the rings, pictures, etc. and drove out to my parent's house.  Although they were sad to see me crying and upset, they were overjoyed inside.  And in a little time, I was too.


The spell was broken.  Even when my (now) ex-boyfriend called the next day saying he had made a huge transition and was really a Christian this time, it didn't move me.  I told him I was happy for him, and hoped it worked out.  But I wasn't going back.


No matter how strongly I vowed to walk with God and not slip into any more unhealthy relationships, it wasn't long before I gave into my old nature and found myself spending time with guys I didn't care for, or didn't see a future with.   I figured by now I was hopeless, and didn't even deserve a nice Christian boyfriend because of how reckless I had been - who would want me now?


Any "quick fixes" or substitutes for wholeness will leave you empty.  You can drink to forget or surround yourself with friends or dates in hopes they will fulfill you, but they won't.  When all is said and done, and you are alone in the quiet the feelings will come back to haunt you, and increase.  Only Christ can make you whole.  I found that out the hard way.


I knew something was missing but just didn't have the drive to go after it.  Finally it hit me when I met someone who is now very special to me.  Although I had known a lot of Christians, I saw the type of Christian I wanted to be, in him.  He is kind, compassionate, humble, and full of integrity.  He loves Jesus and wants to put him first in his life.  And although he has struggles, like all of us, he keeps fighting and encourages me to do the same.


As I got to know him I found that I wanted what he had.  I had gotten nowhere on my own and wanted to start fresh and do it right.  I had been a Christian all my life but never really had a relationship with Jesus, and that's what was missing.


I felt like a new Christian because in many ways, I was.  I had made a commitment as a child but had just gradually gone downhill.  For the first time, I made devotions and prayer a priority and started attending church regularly.  I kept a distance from friendships and potential friendships that would bring me down.  I was drawn to positive Christian people not only so they could encourage me but also so we could encourage each other.


I still face opposition in my life and still face struggles and temptations to turn back when the Christian life doesn't "satisfy" my selfish desires.  I am filled with shame to even think about such things.  However, I have learned that Christians are to expect things like this and the most important thing is that we keep fighting.  And when you think of it, where else really is there to go after you've been down that road and come out empty handed and low? I tried it on my own for years and ended up in the same position: a mess.  I'm convinced that I can't do it on my own anymore; after all I saw how far it got me when I did.


This world does not have a lot to offer, and what it does have is temporary.  Only God could give me the hope that I have now, and the desire to keep going and keep working at it, and I encourage you if you are feeling empty, or like something was missing (like me) that you go out and get it.  


Jesus said:


I am the vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5


My prayer, if God blesses me with children, and they are unfortunate to inherit my weaknesses, that I am able to identify it and talk to them in a loving, understanding manner.  I know that many children will have to go through things in order to grasp what is wrong, but as a (hopeful) future parent I hope to at least be there for them, and explain what lies ahead.


Some may never feel God's tug at their heart and never feel the need for him in their life.  But if you do, I encourage you...don't wait, pursue it.  You will never regret it if you do, but you will regret it if you don't.