FARGO — An amazing single mom was recently baptized at Prairie Heights in West Fargo and she shared a powerful faith story:

I grew up in an abusive home that professed Christianity but didn’t walk it out in a healthy way. There I learned love was conditional and unsustainable, I wasn’t important and my voice didn’t matter. What did matter was that we were viewed as a good Christian family, which required a lot of silence and fake smiles. At times the loneliness and pain this caused would make me feel complete despair. At age 10, a near suicide attempt started a cycle of not wanting to live but being afraid to die.

By age 18 I picked up a lot of names. Some I earned; many were the ignorant perceptions of others: teen mom, futureless, slut, damaged goods, stupid, screw-up and cutter.

After several years in an abusive marriage I was spent. One day I looked at my kids and saw the same hurt in them that I saw in myself as a child and said no more. I filed for divorce. The loneliness returned with a vengeance. I had nowhere healthy to go where I could belong.

At 30 years old I was bitter, angry, critical and cynical. I struggled to see my children as the blessing they are instead of the burden I had always been told they were. I felt so far and disconnected from God. I knew who God was but I was missing a huge part of God’s character … love!

My day care moved to West Fargo. Come on! How inconvenient! I hated the drive from Moorhead but didn’t want to break in a new day care. I was led to this crazy church in West Fargo where everyone is happy to be there and are happy to see you, baggage and all (Prairie Heights). Then, one day as I was driving from Moorhead to West Fargo, exiting off I-29 to Sheyenne, God spoke to my heart: “Move here.” I felt like I was punched in the gut. With tears in my eyes and an urge to throw up, I said, “OK, God.”

In moving to a new state, I was leaving my security blanket. I was in low-income housing and had food stamps to fall back on. This would mean trusting God to be my security blanket. I’d never been so afraid in my life. God gave me a “crossing the river” life moment figuratively and literally. As I started the moving process, I could see God’s hand in everything. All it took from me was little steps of obedience.

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As I trusted God and obeyed, the fog of my past began to lift and I was finally able to hear God whisper, “I love you.” God started revealing to me I was never alone. God replaced my labels with his labels: “Pure and holy, beautifully created with a purpose.” “Treasured and loved. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” “Fearfully and wonderfully made. Created for good works prepared in advance for you to do.” “I heal the brokenhearted and bind up your wounds.” “I will restore to you a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within you.” Where I said, “Shameful,” God said, “Forgiven.”

I love Amy’s story. I pray it encourages you!