I just didn’t think I had a testimony.
As I looked around and everyone began to share stories of not being able to pay for school. Some struggled with sexual abuse in their homes. And some even losing a parent at a young age. What was I going to say?
I was standing in a circle holding the hands of my fellow college classmates during choir rehearsal one night. We were doing our usual close out of praise reports and testimonies, and I always chose to stay silent. I felt like I had nothing to share. I wasn’t struggling to pay for school. I grew up with both of my parents in the home and never dealt with abuse of any kind unless you count being grounded because I rolled my eyes at my mom one time. I was still a virgin and had never had a boyfriend, ever! I really was blessed to truly never have a significant struggle that I deemed worthy of being called a testimony. And because of it, I began to develop a subconscious spiritual arrogance. Somehow I felt that I was better than everyone else and exempt from struggles and trials. And then I met him.
He was my first boyfriend ever. My first year of graduate school. I met him while I was out of town and he decided to visit me because I had my very first apartment. I was officially on my own; away from mom and dad and away from the college campus life. It was my own space where I could do whatever I wanted. And I did just that.
We’d discussed my desire for celibacy and that I was a virgin, extremely inexperienced but there was a curiosity. I’d heard all the stories while in undergrad and even high school, seen things on television, but something kept me from exploring further. But this night, curiosity killed the cat. I desired the attention and affection that he was so willing to give to me because I desired to be wanted and loved. I desired intimacy that I’d yet to experience with a man.
In the back of my head, I knew it was wrong. I knew better. This wasn’t me. I was the good girl. I don’t fall for temptation. I can fight this….
The next morning I could barely look at myself, let alone him. I was so ashamed and embarrassed and conviction weighed on my spirit heavily. All I kept thinking was, “I’m no longer the good girl.” “What will people think?” “Will God forgive me?”
I had a spiritual mentor at the time who I met with every Tuesday to simply talk about life and receive encouragement. Prior to our meeting that week I began to duck and dodge her phone calls. I didn’t want her to know that I had messed up. I was scared of what she might think of me and I just wanted to run and hide. But the way my mentor was set up, she wasn’t letting me slide. She continued to reach out to set up our Tuesday meeting and I finally decided to reach out.
As I sat across from her at the Starbucks, lemon pound cake in front of me, she began to ask how my weekend had been. Before I could get out two words, my lemon cake was drenched from my salty tears. I couldn’t get it together and she probably thought I was crazy!
“What’s wrong?” She asked. I began to share with her my experience with my boyfriend and she simply listened and attempted to decipher my words through my crying.
She finally simply asked me, “did you ask for forgiveness?”
Through my tears, I belted out, “yes!”
If she only knew, I’d ask for forgiveness at least 100 times, the problem was, I hadn’t forgiven myself. I just knew this couldn’t happen to me. I was on a heavenly cloud that God simply had to bring me down from. That day I learned the true meaning of God’s love and grace.
I realized I did have a testimony. My testimony wasn’t like everyone else’s, but I realized that God was with me. He had kept me from so many things that others had experienced far beyond what I could imagine. But if I kept on living, He was going to take me through some things so that I could learn more about Him as well.
I was a preachers kid and grew up in church all my life. I knew God, at least I knew the God of my parents and grandmother. I knew church; how to dress for church, how to act in church, and how to do church, but I didn’t truly have a relationship with God. I was riding off of my parent’s faith, never really developing one of my own. But through that experience, God showed me who He was to me: my provider, friend, forgiver, lover of my soul, and my Father.
I’m grateful for everything I’ve been through and even when I felt like I didn’t have a testimony, God reminded me that even when He shields us from struggles and tragedies, that is a testimony too! Our lives are walking testimonies of the goodness of God. Psalm 23:6 says,” Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…”