Perception is Key – My testimony

I want to share with you chapter one of a book that I may or may not write. I have stepped away for a while, awaiting for God’s leading. I truly want to move forward, but I am unable to do so without God’s leading. The market is the Reformer’s Unanimous program. It is very personal, but God has brought me through a lot! Keep in mind it is also just a draft!

Chapter One: Misperception versus Perception

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12

He told me he loved me. He told me that nobody would ever love me like he did. He told me that he was sorry. To a lost soul, those words work more manipulation on the heart than any other. It didn’t matter that these words followed some verbal bashing, making me feel like I was the most worthless person that ever existed. It didn’t matter that it followed being slammed up against a wall or nearly choked to death. It didn’t matter if it followed a violation of intimacy. He loved me, right?

Sadly, many girls suffer through these terrible relationships as I did at the young age of 16 because they are searching for love. I did not know the Lord at that point, and I developed a twisted idea of what love was. It was not because I had unloving parents; my parents were wonderful. It was not because I had hateful siblings or had been picked on in school (I wasn’t). It was because I let the devil take the controls. I allowed Satan in the driver’s seat, which placed me in heavy bondage that I did not understand.

Perception played a huge part in this saga of my life. With the devil and his horrid demons running the show, they snuck in under the radar. They built a stronghold of shattered self-esteem and diminished self-worth. I am not saying one should feel highly of oneself, but when there is nothing existing at all in that department, something has to fill the void. Unfortunately, my warped sense of love filled it at that time.

One thing I do know, however, is that even as a lost sinner, I was not completely out of God’s care. As time went on, my boyfriend’s rage increased and worsened. His manipulation tangled its web around me in a suffocating way. I tried to walk away, and he threatened to kill himself. I bought into it. I was sixteen and emotional.

When I broke up with him several months after that, I still had the same friends as him. I wound up hanging out at his house. He kept telling me how much he loved me and missed me (although he had a new girlfriend). One day, he stole away a sacred thing that could not be replaced. I felt so alone and dirty; I fell into a dark depression. After the incident of violation, a few days later, an attack in the hallways of a public school (not a teacher in sight) took place. I had hit rock bottom. That is when God swept in with a strong wind!

I finally worked hard to break away from him. I fought the demon voices that told me I still loved him. How could I love such a monster? I would ask myself. How could I ever allow myself to go back? The sad part was that I had to fight it, and it wasn’t just an easy “I’m done.” I applied and received employment at a small grocery store where I met an unusual young man that changed my life.

I hoped my new job would clear away the ugly past. Nobody really knew, other than a couple of people, so I figured I should be able to forget it. I just needed to start new. How did one do that though? I wasn’t quite sure.

As I walked in, I felt a little sheepish. They informed me I would train with another teenager about my age, Steve Brown. He seemed nice enough, but I wondered how someone could be so happy. It wasn’t necessarily obnoxious, but it was weird.

Over the next few weeks, Steve showed me the ropes at Larry’s Foodland. One wouldn’t think that a bagger’s position would have so many details. Nevertheless, I caught on rather quickly. I actually enjoyed it, mostly because I worked with some fun people.

Steve began asking me about my beliefs and asked if I would come to church one day. He said his dad was the preacher. My first thoughts were I couldn’t. God probably wasn’t too happy with me after what happened. Besides, I believed in Jesus. What more was there?

After some time passed, and several invites, I finally accepted. It proved an entirely new experience. I had attended church with my aunt before, but it was nothing like this. What a huge place Parkview Baptist Church was. The wood, padded pews lined the auditorium, with the podium standing tall in front. KJV 1611 was imprinted on the podium, but I wasn’t sure what that was all about. The place looked like it could seat about 300 people. Their black, grand piano shone beautifully and sounded even lovelier.

Everyone was so friendly . . . well, except for Steve’s girlfriend. She did not seem too thrilled to have me there. I felt a bit intimidated by her. I tried not to get too close to her. I quickly became friends with her friend, though. I could tell Samantha and I would get along great. (Steve’s now wife and I laugh over that.)

Over the next few weeks, I visited several times. I loved that there were teenagers there my age who did not drink, did not smoke, did not get involved in immoral things, did not decide to use their dates as punching bags (verbally or physically), . . . It was a great change of pace!

One night, I stood there during what they called altar call. My heart raced energetically, concerning me a bit. I wondered if I was getting sick. I felt my shallow breathing falter and my chest tighten with so much pressure I thought it might explode. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. After the service ended, my body relaxed. I shrugged it off.

The next service I attended was Wednesday night, February 1, 1995. By the time the altar call came, the same feelings enveloped me. I could not figure out what was happening. As I pondered the experience, Pastor Brown’s voice rang in my ears. “Maybe you are here tonight, and you don’t know for sure you are on your way to heaven. You may be feeling the conviction of the Holy Ghost as we sing.” Conviction? I was confused. He went on to talk about the exact symptoms I was feeling, saying God could be trying to speak to us. He said something about salvation, another new word to me. Suddenly, without understanding or knowing what was happening, I darted to the altar. I sat there, unsure of what to do. A light tap on my shoulder caused me to look up.

Mrs. Brown opened her King James Bible and began to show me some scriptures. She showed me verses from the book of Romans and the book of John. She showed me where it said Jesus loved me (John 3:16). She showed me how we needed to repent (Romans 3:10 and 3:23). Repent? I had no idea what that was until that moment. She showed me how anyone could be saved who truly believed upon Christ (Romans 9:9-10, 13).

I finally bowed my head and told Jesus that I knew I was a sinner. I told him that I wanted him to come into my heart and save me from hell. I truly felt fear of that burning place for the first time ever. I asked Jesus to save me from going there. By the end of the prayer, my fear subsided. I couldn’t explain it, but I knew at that moment my life had changed.

No matter what happened before, I knew I didn’t have to worry. I wasn’t sure yet how I knew, but I knew. That day was the first day of the rest of my life!

This brings us back to the idea of perception. As a lost soul, my perception was one of a dirty, smeared, cracked lens that doesn’t help one’s sight but actually worsens it. I had no sense of logic and no sense of reason. It wasn’t until I accepted Christ as my Savior that my perception started to shift. The dirt was cleared away, the crack disappeared, and all the smears were polished clean. Although a struggle, and I did not fully understand it at that time, Jesus was (and still is) trying to show me HIS perception of things in this world.

We are no longer forced to look through smudges and cracks, nor prescriptions that are too weak for us. We do, however, need to make regular trips to the eye doctor in order to keep our sight 20/20. We need to let Him put the drops in when necessary, and we need to let Him mend any damage done along the way.

Maybe you are reading this book and don’t know for sure that you are saved and on your way to heaven. Maybe you are still looking through that distorted lens of the world. If you are, I urge you to get that settled today. It is not hard, but it is a leap of faith. It is a leap of faith that will lead to riches in heaven and life eternally with the King of kings and Lord of Lords!

All you have to do is say a prayer similar to this one, and mean it sincerely:

Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave on the third day. I believe that you can save me from hell and from Satan. I do not deserve this grace, but Lord I will accept it! I praise you for loving us so much that you gave your life for us; please come into my heart and save me! Lord Jesus, I pray for this in your precious name, AMEN!

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