Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Jesus Story - Part 2

My mother announced on Christmas morning she was leaving. In my mind's eye, I can see this day just like it was yesterday. We were unwrapping gifts in front of the Christmas tree. She moved out on New Year's Day.

This is my story, not my mother's story. I will say that I believe with all my heart that my mother and father raised me with the best intentions. But I was not raised in a Christian home. Jesus knew that.

I was 18 years old when my mother left. My youngest brother had turned 11 that summer. My older sister had graduated from high school early and had moved out of state. I cannot even remember where my other brother was. He would have been almost 15 at the time. I think he just disappeared. I was working full-time at a law firm. In an instant, my life had changed. I went from being a carefree teenager to taking on the role of a full-time housewife, and a self-imposed mother to my youngest brother.

My father was devastated. I watched a man who had been a tower of strength collapse inside himself. I would imagine that when a wife leaves her husband, for whatever reason, it does something to the inner man. I became his shoulder to cry on.

As a self-imposed mother to my little brother, I did what any loving big sister would do. I tried to do everything for him my mother couldn't do. I made sure he had new clothes. I kept the house clean. The laundry was always kept up. I made sure supper was on the table. I tucked him in at night and always kissed him and told him I loved him. We became best friends. I fondly remember him coming into my bedroom and telling me about a girl he liked at school. And so this became my life for the next five years. I was happy to do it.

Over those five years, I became hardened. I had seen so much weeping and sorrow that I didn't care if I ever saw another person cry again. Something in me had changed. I could no longer cry.

After five years of being a pretend housewife and mother, I finally came to the point in my life where I had had enough. I felt like my life had been placed on hold. Many of my friends had gotten married and had babies. I had a great job and was making a lot of money. So I moved out and was finally able to live my life the way I wanted. I was 23 years old. Unfortunately, my unwritten goals were centered around making money, spending money, and meeting men. I worked around people where all of those things became easy. In order to save money, I moved back home a year later.

And so it was one day, as I was sitting in a business meeting, the secretary walked in and interrupted the meeting. I was called away to a phone where I was told my little brother, now 19, had been in a car accident. Actually, that day happened 22 years ago today. An older woman driving on a busy four-lane road, thought she had enough time and clearance and turned in front of him. He swerved to miss her and hit a steel telephone pole head-on. The force of the impact melted his corduroy pants where his knees hit the dashboard. His head hit the steering wheel. His neck was broken.

I remember going to the hospital, but I don't really remember any of the details of that day. I just remember what happened when I got home late that night.

I didn't know what to do. Somehow in the recesses of my mind, I remembered that one Bible verse I had memorized at Vacation Bible School so many years before.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

So I got down on my knees next to my bed and I started bartering with God. My brother was my best friend and I was willing to do anything, anything at all, if God would just keep my brother from dying. My prayer went something like this: God, if you will just keep my brother safe, I will do anything. I will read my Bible every day, even though I don't understand any of it. And I will pray every day, even though I don't need anything.

You see, I had never really heard anyone pray. Well, you know, pray pray. I thought the only time you prayed was when you needed something. I made those two promises and I kept them. I read my Bible every single day. And I prayed every single day. When I prayed it would start with something like, "Hi. It's me again." It was a funny thing, reading my Bible. After about a month of reading it every day, the eyes of my heart started to open. The words became alive to me. I didn't know a thing about reading the Bible. I'm sure I started in Genesis, but I can't remember. But you know, God was so faithful to me. In time, He spoke to my heart and began to show Himself to me.

Please know that I did not promise to do anything else. I didn't promise to go to church. I didn't promise to change my ways. I was still the same old girl I used to be.

My brother was in traction for weeks. I remember being at the hospital and cleaning the wounds where metal rods were drilled in his skull. He was scheduled for surgery. We were told he was the only spinal injury on the floor that wasn't paralyzed. There was a chance the surgery would leave him paralyzed. He had metal rods and screws placed in his neck. His surgery was a success. He wasn't paralyzed. He got to come home. I was so thankful.

I kept reading my Bible. I kept praying.

One year and three days later, I received another phone call. This time it was concerning my other brother. He had been in an accident. His neck was broken.

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