Faith… A word that can ignite such wonderful feelings or create feelings of disconnect. I don’t believe I really knew what faith could be until the year 2007. As a young person, I thought faith was going to church and saying your prayers at night to God. I wondered if God heard my prayers… I baptized and raised in the catholic faith. As a young person I found faith to be somewhat ritualistic, and money drove much of every service. I believed that if I did something wrong, I would be punished. I am sure now, this is not what God wanted for me.
In my younger years I was bullied from grade 1 to grade 12. Boys would call me “dog” and bark at me in the hallways in elementary school, and then in highschool it continued, they would make puking noises. I carried a burden, I believed I was worthless, and did not deserve love. I do not blame my parents for this, they showered me with much love, it was more so of me not understanding the concept of unconditional love for myself and through God.
For many years I would let the bad feelings in and the good out. I felt empty and longed to be loved by my friends. Looking for acceptance externally was something I did on a regular basis. I was tied in a knot, my feelings pent-up inside. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t feel beautiful. Who was the girl looking back at me? She wore many masks… I internalized all of the bad words that came from others, I felt empty.
There were many events that followed my teen years, ranging from alcohol and drug abuse to being physically assaulted by a group of men. This was a major low point in my life. I hated myself, I hated men…. I was full of anger and sadness, and lost hope in religion or faith. But God did not give up on me, he sent me a man full of goodness to love me for whom I was. A man who was pure of heart and lead by example in his daily life. A man who loved me for me and showed me how to love myself again.
I remember telling the man who was soon to become my husband that I truly believed that he was an angel sent from to me from God. I still whole heartedly believe this. This man motivated me to become more, to start to become whole again. I tried to push him away but he did not leave my side. Even these 16 plus years later of being together I thank God every day for bringing him to me. He has been by my side through the greatest struggles in my life and has held my hand along the way. On the journey to become whole again, I worked my way through university (as a hairdresser), graduated and had our first baby.
This was the first major gift in my life. A boy with bright blue eyes, looked up at me and the love overflowed. We named him Drew, so beautiful, so pure and whole. This was my first glimpse of what life was really about…Pure, unconditional love. I swore I would never get caught up in the “things” of this life, that my family would be my priority. Then BANG! Life began to change as my husband found his first professional job in another city.
It was 2006 as I was striving to balance my family life, in moving to a new city, leaving a job that I loved to bring my family together I began working in a very toxic work environment. Working long hours, rushing my baby boy to bed, and barely having time to breathe I started losing focus.
I started confiding in God and prayed for help. I felt weak. With no friends or family close by, my life start slipping into a crazy and busy state. Internally I felt that I made the best decision so that my son would see his daddy every day, but I didn’t know where to turn… I felt so tired. Then shortly there after, in early 2007 my grandfather was hospitalized due to having Pneumonia. My mom was extremely worried; much of the past few years had been concentrating on nursing her mother to health. My mother has an innate ability to care for others, giving much of herself in every situation so that others feel better. She is truly a woman with a heart of gold.
My grandmother had a liver transplant a year before that triggered man emotional issues througout the family. As I look back in time, I remember the weekend like it was just yesterday, our family had all been at the cabin and had a wonderful weekend. Mom was worried because she did not want to leave grandpa’s side, but I reassured her that everything was going to be ok. When we all left the cabin, we all received phone calls indicating we needed to come to hospital where my grandfather was located as soon as possible. God was preparing me… Instantly my heart sank, I had this feeling that things had gone sideways. I started praying to God, and asked for strength and help. I was so scared. The first experience of death of someone close….
My grandfather was one of the strongest men I knew. I had this amazing adoration for my grandfather. I smile when I look back on the memories. I adored him, I thought he had a heart of gold. His big blue eyes, and hands of strength, I looked up to him.
When we arrived at the hospital that day, grandpa said that he had a living will, didn’t want to be put on a ventilator, and would not take any food. His illness had turned into double Pneumonia, and they didn’t think he had long to live. The pneumonia was complicated by the scar tissue he had on his lungs, which we did not know existed. Scared and frightened, I prayed for strength. I started really openning my heart to God; I wondered if this was what faith really was….
As my mother, grandmother and I sat in the waiting room I prayed. I prayed in silence. I realized at that moment I needed to be the strong one. As we walked into the room, my grandfather was in pain. He could barely breathe or talk. I told him I loved him very much and that he was my favorite, he nodded at me and I know he was trying to tell me the same. I then told mom and grandma that we needed to take him off of life support that he would never want to live this way. He was having hallucinations and was so very scared. I then asked the nurse to send for the priest so we could do the last rites. My mom and grandma were both shaking and in denial; I think we all were. I couldn’t believe how quickly this had all spiralled out of control. And then the moment came when we took him off of life support, I laid my head on my grandpa’s chest and started to cry. His heart continued to beat, I could hear it, but it was muffled by the cries around me. His heart continued to beat for 30 minutes. I didn’t understand how this man left my life in a matter of four days. Why God? Why?
The pain that I felt in my chest was something I could not describe. I felt so empty, I cried so hard that night and my husband held me. I prayed for strength. That night as I lay in bed, a voice came into my head and said “when one life passes another is given”. I wondered what that was all about…This was the moment for the first time that I think I really heard the voice of God. Perhaps my ears finally opened? The next day, tired and weak, I ventured out to get flowers for my mom and grandmother.
Everywhere I looked; there were babies and baby blankets. The voice came again into my head “when one life passes another is given”. My young son Drew was with me and at the time he was 3, he knew exactly what was happening around him. He was so attentive to his mothers’ needs. He gave me hugs, and told me “mommy don’t worry, grandpa is in heaven”. Drew to this day is such a very sensitive and attentive boy. He remembers his great grandpa to this day. I then proceeded down the isles and passed a pregnancy test – coincident? Strange, impossible – there was no way I could be… I took the test – and sure enough – I was pregnant. This was such a pinnacle moment; I realized that God was speaking to me. I could really hear His voice. But how could I have the capacity for this right now? I had no strength, I felt weak. I did not know this verse then – but this is what God wanted from me:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 New International Version (NIV))
At this time in my life, I was overwhelmed, weak, and burdened. This is where I finally noticed the hand of God that had been directing my life He was always there. This time He was going to hold me in His hands and carry me through. This moment changed me for the better, and began a relationship of hope and trust.