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I grew up in a home where a Bible sat on the bookshelf but was never opened and read. I can remember being drawn to it even as a young girl, pulling it off the shelf and looking at those thin pages. But it was a mystery to me. And even though I attended church at Christmas and Easter, I knew nothing of a personal relationship with the God the Bible talks about.
My parents gave me total independence growing up, but with no accountability. Being passionate and energetic in nature, I gave myself 100 percent to good pursuits—and to those that would scar me for decades.
It wasn’t until I was a freshman at the University of Texas in Austin that a co-worker invited me to church. I went and brought my boyfriend, and after the service we walked out to the parking lot, where I met my friend’s parents. They invited us to go to lunch, but I immediately said we couldn’t go, even though we had no plans. In my mind and heart I felt such shame and such a sense of my own brokenness that I honestly didn’t think I could even sit across the table from them for a meal.
Shortly after that day, another co-worker—one who had literally hounded me to go to church—asked me one more time. This time I said yes. I’m not sure why, but I did, and I attended for several months as the pastor taught from the book of Romans. Finally all the dots connected for me.
Although I had always believed at a very basic level that God exists, I finally understood that He is real and wants a relationship with me through His Son, Jesus Christ. I stood up at the end of a service, walked down the center aisle, and prayed to receive Christ as my Savior.
From that day on, my life changed—in every way. Over the following months, I began to open the Bible and try to figure it all out. I shared with everyone in my life what God had done. That wasn’t easy. My parents thought I had joined a cult, and my boyfriend thought nothing in our impure relationship would change. But over time, my circle of unhealthy friendships slowly faded, and God brought a Christian friend into my life—a co-worker who led me in Bible study at lunch and who truly loved me and invested in my life. The Lord knew how badly I needed just one person to walk alongside me.
Later God brought a godly young man into my life—Ray, who has now been my husband for 25 years! Over those years, we have raised three wonderful kids and shared so many joys and sorrows—including the kind that drive you to the ground, weeping into the carpet. Yet we have learned how to truly love and extend grace within the walls of our home.
So, where am I at right now? I am crazy in love with the Lord, remembering daily what He has done for me and where I’ve come from.
The thought of where I might be without Him compels me to walk in love, grace, and compassion with others and gratitude toward Him every day. I don’t do that perfectly, but that is always my desire. God has also shown me how to live an authentic, transparent life, sharing openly with people about my journey and about what the Lord has done in my life.
If God knows everything about me and loves me so intimately, I have nothing to fear about what people may think. God has done a miracle in my life, taking my brokenness—the ashes of my life—and making something truly beautiful
and useful from them.
Speaking from Philippians 1:15, John Piper recently said, “God has given you two gifts: faith and suffering. Don’t waste them.” I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t want those to be wasted in my life. I believe God is the perfect Father who knows what I need in the deepest recesses of my heart and life in order to become more like Him. I am learning to trust Him with all of that, moment by moment, day by day.
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness!” —Psalm 115:1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frances has recently joined the Children’s Ministry staff of Wheaton Bible Church, leading the Caring for Kids (formerly Treasured Promises) support ministry for children, which offers hope and healing for children in difficult circumstances and whose parents are participating in DivorceCare, GriefShare, or the Single Parenting groups. She and her husband, Ray, have attended Wheaton Bible Church for 10 years and have served in Men’s and Women’s Ministries, Alpha, Neighborhood Bible Clubs, and the Prayer Team.