Are the choices you make your own will or due to an unexpected change in your life?
There are several passages in the Bible that talk about not being a stumbling block to another person. I came across the verse recently in the book of Romans, “…rather decide to never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
I have known this passage for as long as I can remember. I feel like I have tried hard to apply it in my life. I never want my choices or actions in life to cause somebody to suffer. However, I never took into account if somebody became a stumbling block for me until recently.
I am divorced due to my partner being unfaithful in the marriage. I remember how I felt that moment that I discovered that I was deceived throughout the span of the relationship. It felt like a truckload of bricks was dumped on my head. I remember thinking, “This cannot be reality. This cannot be my reality. How can a person destroy somebody like this?”
When it came to the point where I knew that I could no longer remain in the marriage, I told myself and believed that I was okay. I felt that I could have my new beginning and be strong.
I had no clue how big that stumbling block was until a couple of weeks ago. As I reflected on my life choices since the divorce, I was completely baffled. I had become a person that I truly could not recognize.
I did not have a clue during that time period that I was continuing to allow that stumbling block that my failed marriage had put in front of me to continuously cause me to fall. I was accepting advice from people whom I would have never taken advice from to justify the bad decisions I was making. I was ignoring the righteous advice of those who truly cared about me because I was scared to face myself.
For the first time in my life I have chosen to stare my reality in the face. It is so scary. I realized that I was trying to gain stability from people who did not really care about me. I was allowing people to come into my life, without being cautious.
I know I was not protecting my heart at all. I wanted the quick fix. I wanted to feel the happiness and love that I have longed for, for so long.
My reality is that when the giant stumbling block obstructed my path, the choices I have made also became stumbling blocks that I created for myself. I completely ignored my faith. I made myself believe that the God I believed in for so long could not help me and that His Word was outdated.
I had not been attending church regularly. One night I felt that I needed to attend a service. It was a Wednesday night. I felt that the sermon was tailored for me. I will never forget when the pastor said, “God does not just tolerate you, He purposely created you because He loves you.” When he uttered those words, I can feel the tears cascade down my face.
At that moment, I can remember in the past shouting at God. Asking God why He created me. Asking God why he was allowing this hurt into my life.
Although that night planted a seed in my heart, that was not my turning point. I left church feeling fulfilled, but as the days passed by, I continued to live my life as if that night didn’t happen.
I don’t want to get into the details, but I will admit that I continued to live a sinful life without any regard to repentance. My mindset went back to thinking that the Word was outdated and that I was going to make my own choices. I had told myself that I followed God’s way when I got married and it blew up in my face. So why would I follow Him now?
If I’m honest, and I am trying to be as honest as possible, I know that I wanted the marriage to be of God, but I also knew that my partner was not completely right. He was able to provide the talk, but he did not practice in the faith. There were red flags that I chose to ignore.
I knew all along that I had a void. I told myself that I was a Christian. I told myself that the void was not God. I told myself that there was something else I needed. I was allowing the world to come into my mind. I was allowing the seductiveness of sin to enter into me. I was allowing alcohol, men, bad advice, basically any distraction I can find to control me. I was deceiving myself.
I finally reached the turning point. I had put my hope and stability into something that was not stable and not of God. When that failed me, I could feel myself lose control. I began to cry uncontrollably. I talked to God in a way that I believe that I have never talked to Him before. I reached for support from my mom and my sister. I admitted that I had not faced my reality. I admitted that I was living a sinful life.
I went to another church service. Again it felt as though the sermon was tailored for me. I felt empowered. I rededicated my life to God.
I would love to say that the story ended there and I completely am walking in confidence, but that would be a lie. Now that I have chosen to truly face my reality and trust in God, I feel better, but I am human and I continue to struggle.
On a business trip, in a lonely hotel room, I collapsed on the floor and cried uncontrollably. I was able to contact my mom during this time. My mom firmly told me to get out my Bible and read it aloud to her. I did as she said. I can feel my anxiety level go down, and I can feel my strength increase and my trust in God rise.
After I hung up the phone, I continued to read. I came across a passage in the book of Mark where a leper comes to Jesus and says to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus’ response was absolutely beautiful. It stated that Jesus was moved with compassion and told him, “I am willing, be cleansed.” At that point I fell to the floor and worshipped. I told Jesus in my own way to cleanse me. Words fail to explain how I felt in that moment. Words like beautiful, amazing, or wonderful, cannot even capture the moment that I knew I belonged to Jesus.
Later that night, I was able to attend a remote church service that broadcasted my pastor live. I knew that making the choice to rededicate my life was the best decision I have and will ever have made for myself. However, my struggle continues to be the times when I am alone, when the quiet is so loud that I feel myself falling apart.
I have to say God, again, had another sermon that was tailored for me. The pastor spoke about the empty tomb and through her emotions; Mary Magdalene did not immediately recognize Jesus in front of her. The pastor talked about times in our own lives when we are shouting, “Where are you God?” And God is telling us, “I am right here.” But we don’t stop to notice because we are entrapped in our emotions, similar to Mary Magdalene when she did not initially recognize Jesus when He was right in front of her.
I have shouted many times in my life, “God where are you?” The truth is God has never left me. He has always been faithful to me and has never left me. I cling onto this verse from the book of John, when Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
There will be trouble in the world. Jesus said it. We have all experienced it and will continue to experience it. But if we allow Jesus to take control of our lives, He will be with us in our times of trouble.
I am so thankful that I serve a God of love and forgiveness. I have chosen to return to God. As the pastor I have been listening to for over twenty years often says during alter calls, everyone that Jesus called, He called publically. I am using this blog to publically share my testimony in hopes that it will help at least one person return to their faith that they may have abandoned as I did for a period of time in my life.
Originally published at medium.com