Sunday, January 19, 2014

Testimony

A testimony in a lot of ways is a big coming out of sorts.  It's kind of like saying "this is all the shit that is wrong with me, and I am still a Christian".  It is a way for you, friend, to know some details about me as well.  Maybe things that are scandalous, or things that you didn't know before.

Why post it on the internet?

I feel like God is calling me to.  (Cop out?)

Other reasons...

This is a great way to set up multiple other blog posts on topics that I would like to cover, and this would be great stepping stone.

This is a way to connect to more people, and to influence more people.

This is a way to share a story of God's patience and love.

This is a way that is relevant.

This is it:


I have always considered myself a Christian


When I have been asked to tell my testimony before, I have always given a very glossed over story of my life.  I would say something along the lines of, “I’ve always felt I was a Christian, and I remember my sister telling me about being a Christian when I was about 7.”  I would say that “I’ve always been to church for most of my life, there was a period when I was a teenager that I didn’t go…” and the thought kind of trails off.  “I’ve always considered myself a Christian.” “I grew up in a Christian home.”  I’ve always tried to create the most boring testimony ever, and pray that no one asks questions.

I’ve always considered myself a Christian, and in saying that, I’ve always been a Christian – if I considered it or not.  I have three older siblings (and a mother and father who were and still together) and the younger of my two older sisters told me about Jesus and how you become a Christian.  I remember exactly the time of day (night), where (in our shared room, on my bed) and how I felt when I became a Christian.
                
We would all go to church regularly, but on some special Sundays we wouldn't.  That would mean being able to sleep in – so I have to confess, I did look forward to those special ones.  We wouldn't attend Christmas services, I only remember going to one or two, as we regarded Christmas more of a time to spend together, and not in the uncomfortable crowd of extra people at the church and in uncomfortable clothes.  Despite this, we still considered ourselves Christians.
                  
I distinctly remember our family not fitting in with our small conservative church of middle class.  We had enough money, but not enough money.  We had education, but my parents, especially my mother, was a little bit too liberal i.e. too educated.  We weren’t as cool as the pastor’s kids, none of us kids played instruments on stage or sang and we were never considered wholesome Christian kids.  I still considered us Christians.
                
I remember the first time the police were at my house.  I was very young.  Over the years of my childhood my parents would fight to the point that one of them would phone the police in an effort that somehow these strangers could fix their problems with their authority and presence.  It would only be a band-aid solution for the moment and it never fixed their problems.  Eventually, my oldest sibling, my brother, would be the reason for these calls.  I remember the first time I called them, not knowing what to say, panic in my voice, hand trembling at the phone – my brother and dad were fighting, and to someone as young as I was, it seemed like my whole world was crushing down on me – falling apart as I watched.
                
I still considered myself a Christian through this time.  My mother, in an attempt to regain some sort of moral or ethical reign on the house as my brother left to live with the Pastor of our church, and eventually in his own apartment, she would get the whole family to sit down and we would have a family devotion before we would go to school.  My sisters and I saw through her attempts, as most children can in situations like that.
                
When I was in my early teens, those phone calls to the police were for me.  I would physically fight with my father and he would with me.  My mother, somewhere in the background yelling, phoning the police and me – a teenage girl fighting with her dad, someone who is supposed to love me, protect me, and support me.  I don’t remember many details, except for the extremely memorable ones, that are usually the most horrific ones.  I felt abandoned, unloved, unwanted – not just by one parent, but by both.  My mother who made excuses for my dad and blamed me, in my mind, was just as wrong – if not more wrong – than what my Dad did out of anger my Mom would justify with a cold heart. 
                
I still considered us Christians, and myself a Christian through this.
               
I went to University a few years later, with no real direction or aspirations.  I met my first boyfriend there and within a year I was married. 
               

I am a statistic.

I am a statistic: a 20-something-married-too-young-divorced-Christian.
                
My marriage imitated my childhood.  While it didn’t contain the amount of violence that my childhood had, it did contain some to make it just horrible enough.  While I still don’t have the maturity or the wisdom to accurately give a description of what went wrong in my marriage I can say that I was heartbroken.  I was heartbroken over the relationship but on the other side I was heartbroken about every other relationship that ended because of our decision to get divorced.
                
I was a member of a church in Halifax – which I am no longer a member of.  I had friends that I no longer consider friends and a pastor that wasn’t very pastoral to my time in need. 
                
During the months that followed the separation I chose bad decision after bad decision.   I failed a few of my classes that last semester of my undergraduate degree (I ended up graduating - and I am 2nd degree'ing it now).  I turned to marijuana and alcohol – getting high and/or drunk for weeks and weeks.  Most painfully I began a relationship – and I use that word as lightly as I can – with a man that had no place being in my life or in my bed.
                

I was completely lost.

Where were my people?  Where were the people that would take care of me?  Love me no matter what?  Love me unconditionally?
                
I still considered myself a Christian through this.  Why?  I’m honestly not entirely sure.  In my darkest moments I knew that there was something more.  I knew that the people that were in my life – my parents, my friends, and the people in my church – were only people.  And they were all people that were incredibly disappointing.  Realizing this was almost comforting and I have become more accepting of the disappointment as the years go on.  My childhood should not have been one full of horrible memories – and that is disappointing.  My marriage should not have been so incredibly painful – and that is disappointing.  And that summer, that was full of alcohol, drugs, and regret - was also full of disappointments – and I was probably the biggest disappointment of it all. 

                

Through this all – God was with me. 


Mathew 28:20 says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” and I believe that God was with me through my childhood - through every relationship I've had, through every mistake and right now.  While I made that conscious decision with my sister, on that night, in our shared room to become a Christian – I believe that God has chosen me every day since. 


Afterword:

While this may be painful for some people to read, it is important for me to share it.
I have had this written for a few weeks, so this is not a whim for me to be publishing it.  I have thought long and hard about putting it on the internet, and I believe this is where it should be.

If you are dealing with any of the issues I have mentioned, please email me.  heidi.hoffman@msvu.ca  I would be more than happy to help you find support or be a listening ear.  

As always, much love from me to you.



3 comments:

  1. You commented on my yoga blog and I jumped over to see what you wrote on your blog. I learned we live in the same area, or did you said you went to a church in Halifax. I enjoyed learning about your journey and I am sorry it has been a rough one. I was saddened to read that your pastor wasn't very pastoral to you. Blessings as you continue to move forward

    BTW If you are ever in Lr. Sackville pop out and say hi.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment Christopher. I live in Dartmouth. :)

    ReplyDelete