June 5, 2016

My Heart Is Healed and My Voice is Heard!

I will never forget the day. I was 15 years old and had a disagreement with my dad. Disagreements with dad were unusual for me, because I was what you would call a "Daddy's Girl."

I was the typical "know it all" 15 year old girl, and for the first time in my life, for some reason, I felt like I was allowed to disrespect my dad that day. He and my mom had separated a couple of months before, and he had been living with my sister. It was the summer of 1978. I was getting ready to leave on a 2 week vacation with my friend and her parents. I went to stay with my dad the night before, and he had found out about something I had done that was not good. He asked me about it, and I didn't confirm or deny. I just rolled my eyes and told him he was being a little petty and over protective. About that time my friend and her mom came to get me and I left for vacation, not really giving what my dad and I had just talked about any more thought. If he had any more to say about it I knew he would do so when I returned home. 

Vacation happened. 2 weeks of camping and fun. Back then there were no cell phones, and calling long distance and reversing the charges was expensive, so my mom said there would be no need to call unless I had an emergency. There was an emergency! It wasn't with me, it was with my dad!

The day I came home, my friend and her mom helped me bring my stuff in the house. I walked in to an empty house and found a note on the table from my grandma. The note said that my dad was in the hospital, he had brain surgery, and wasn't expected to live, and I was to go to my sister's house. I was devastated, and in shock! I went to my sister's house and she immediately took me to the hospital. On the drive to the hospital my sister tried to cautiously and lovingly prepare me for what I was about to see, but I couldn't understand a word she was saying. Her words were like tidal waves of emotion crashing around my heart! We walked in, and there he laid, with his eyes closed and a big white bandage wrapped around his head. He was in a coma. He had a brain aneurysm, and there was little hope for his survival. I walked to his bedside and he sort of opened his eyes, but they closed again immediately. Understanding suddenly wrapped itself around me like a blanket. Oh how I ached for the chance to tell him I was sorry for being disrespectful to him. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him, and for him to understand my words. I had so much to say to him, but I couldn't. Why was this happening to my dad? Why did I assume he would be there when I came home from vacation? My heart was breaking into a million pieces, and my mind was spinning out of control. I felt like I was in the middle of a terrible nightmare, and I just wanted to wake up! 

My dad passed away 2 days later, on July 15, 1978. He was only 41 years old. I felt so lost, so hopeless, so guilty! You see, I didn't know the Lord then. I knew there was a God, and I thought He only listened to people who went to church. I didn't know how to pray, or anything about the Bible. The only thing I knew was that my dad was gone, and this must be my punishment for leaving for vacation and disrespecting him. I lived with believing this lie for many years. The enemy had his way with me, filling my head with negative thoughts, and endless guilt.

For the next 25 years I carried that guilt around. I made one bad choice after another. I got myself into a couple of abusive relationships, and I thought I deserved the abuse, and anything else bad that came my way. 

I believed these lies until I came to know Jesus, and I started intense counseling sessions with a Christian counselor. I learned that God is not a God who punishes, but He is a loving God who covers us in His amazing love, mercy, and grace, He is a God who is slow to anger, and abounding in love. I learned that He is always with me, and He will give me strength. Most importantly, I learned that He loves me so much more than I can even imagine, let alone deserve.

So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I learned that His promises are true, and His word never changes. I learned that He hears my prayers and will heal me. 

I learned that even when I didn't know Him, He was right there with me, and he carried me when I couldn't walk on my own. He was waiting for me to seek Him out. I learned that all I have to do is call His name, and He is always right here with me. Guiding me, loving me, forgiving me, waiting for me. 

Through the years since coming to know Jesus, I have learned to use my voice. To express out loud to loved ones each and every time I see them, how much I love them, and even more, how much God loves them. I have learned to never be afraid to say "I'm sorry."  I have learned to use my voice, to share my testimony, to show others the hope and love we find in Jesus Christ. I am learning to use my voice whenever needed, if it means bringing one more person closer to the Lord. Without our willingness to use our voices, the world may never know! 
Even now, almost 38 years later, I still miss my dad dearly, but I hold no guilt, I listen to no lies from the enemy! I listen to the Voice of Jesus, and that is the Voice I want to share with the world! 

 I am linking up with Karen Beth at Finding the Grace Within/Tuesday at Ten
The prompt this week is VOICE!