One Woman’s Conversion Experience (While Driving!)

Candace, a reader from Wisconsin, wrote to tell me of her conversion experience. It’s as moving as anything like it I’ve ever read. Here’s what she had to say:

Heading into 2007, I was in miserable shape. I had been a heavy drinker for 25 years. I had abandoned a 20-year career in a hospital laboratory in 2002, and had lost all of my savings in a failed business venture. It had become increasingly difficult for me to hold a job for more than a year at a time. I had a gambling problem, and was struggling under more than $25,000 in credit card debt and past-due bills. Unable to make my mortgage payments, the loss of my home and everything in it was imminent. I was depressed and hopeless, angry and cynical. I was irresponsible in every way, and I both pitied and hated myself.

 

I had some wonderful friends, but little appreciation for them. It had been years since anyone visited my home (and had they come, I would not have allowed them in). Family relationships were strained, pretty much across the board, to varying degrees.

 

I had, over the years, taken a ‘Whitman’s sampler’ approach to spirituality, but nothing ever seemed to stick. What little I knew of the Bible and of Christian living was grossly distorted or (I now know) flat-out wrong. The whole notion of God seemed unintelligible to me — stupid, fairytale-ish, anti-intellectual, nothing but a crutch for people who couldn’t figure out how to live life on their own. 

Shortly after the New Year, I learned of the tragic death of a dear young friend. Olivia, nine years old, and her father had gone through the ice on a local lake, and Olivia had drowned. While struggling to cope with that devastating loss, I was also growing a new friendship, with one of those sort of people who has something about them that you know is different, but that you can’t quite name. On February 11th of last year, I e-mailed my new friend some questions I had about God. He answered in ways that spoke to me, and added two great bits of advice: “Just talk to God while you putter around the house, like he was your buddy,” and “Find out if there’s a Christian radio station in your area.” So, feeling foolish, awkward and decidedly unsteady, I began talking to God and listening to others talk about God.

 

On February 16th, I wrote an e-mail to my friend telling him I had polished off a bottle of vodka the night before, and I was going to try and drive home without buying another. In response he asked me to write and let him know when I got home, even if I did stop for more. I made it home without stopping, and my friend kept me company via e-mail throughout a very rough weekend, as I detoxed from decades of alcohol abuse. I also spent a lot of time that weekend talking to God as if He was my friend, and I kept my radio on and tuned to the local Christian radio station around the clock. (I do want to warn people not  to ever detox at home alone. It was rough. Really, really rough. Knowledgeable medical people since have told me it’s only by the grace of God that I survived it.)

 

The following Tuesday morning, while driving home from a pet-sitting visit, I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. I started sobbing, and had to pull over to the side of the road because I was unable to continue driving. I wept and wept, babbling nonsensically to God between sobs. Once I was done crying, I felt entirely different. I didn’t understand exactly what had happened, but I knew my whole world had changed for the better.

 

When I got home, I went directly to the computer and wrote down the things I had said to God in the car, and called it the Cynic’s Prayer:

 

OK, God, I give up. I’m Yours if You want me.

I don’t care how awkward I might feel talking to You, or about You.

I don’t care how much trouble I have accepting some of the teachings.

I don’t care that my entire former self-image was wrapped up in the “party girl” persona.

I don’t care if some Christian music is treacle and the lyrics contrived.

I don’t care what havoc may have been wrought in Your name in the past, or what may be in the future.

I don’t care if some of Your flock seem hypocritical or self-righteous or sanctimonious.

I don’t care if there are times when I can’t feel Your presence.

I don’t care if loving You means I have to at least attempt to love myself.

I don’t care if friends roll their eyes and laugh at my conversion.

I don’t care if I feel like a faker sometimes, and I don’t care if it’s harder to do Your will than it would be to follow my own desires, and I don’t care if I’m less than perfect at it.

None of that matters. I give up. I want You. And I’m Yours, if You want me.

 

It was probably a week or so before it actually dawned on me that I had been born again.

As I write this, I have been sober for 15 months. I attend two or three recovery meetings a week, and will do so for the rest of my life. The people I have met in recovery are just amazing, and words that I used to choke on — “Hi, I’m Candy, and I’m an alcoholic” — now come easily at the beginning of each meeting because of the wonderful examples I see all around me. I have not struggled, for even one moment, with any desire at all to have a drink. It seems that God has lifted that burden and healed me.

 

Right away, both my new friend, Jon, and a long-time friend, Bill (who is a Baptist minister), began encouraging me to find a church family. In “weakness and fear and with much trembling,” I began visiting God at His house a couple of weeks before Easter, and it didn’t take long before I was looking forward to Sunday each week. That November, I became a member of my church, and I was baptized on the first anniversary of my sobriety, with Jon, Bill, and many other friends and church family members in attendance.

 

Every day I am in my Bible and spending time in prayer. I have an insatiable appetite for the Word, and am growing steadily in my relationship with the Lord. I take classes at church, and listen to and read all kinds of stuff about knowing and loving God and living a Christian life. Concepts and ideas I could never understand — indeed, that I thought were ridiculous! — are now as clear as a bell, and it’s hard to comprehend how I could have missed them before.

 

I never gamble anymore, haven’t for months, and I’m working with a volunteer financial counselor from my church to learn how God wants me to handle money. I did not lose my home after all, and my finances are getting better all the time. God has blessed me in big ways in that regard.

 

Through Christ, my life now holds things I hadn’t known for a very long time, if ever: hope, peace, humility, perseverance, contentment, self-control, joy, courage, strength. And a love that is totally beyond my capability to express.

 

The process of identifying, confessing, and repenting of my sins has been difficult. It’s still a work in progress, actually, and no doubt — being human — it will never end. That’s what we humans do, isn’t it? We sin. But the Holy Spirit really does help me go through that process, and crying helps a lot too. I used to do everything I could to avoid crying whenever possible. Now I just run a hot bath and let the tears flow. It hurts worse to hold all of that back than it does to just walk forward through it, especially when you walk with the right company.

 

The power and beauty of what Jesus did for me on the cross just overwhelms me. It’s almost too much to absorb, and my gratitude for it brings me to my knees. Because of Him, I know that God loves me, and has made me His child, and has forgiven me and will continue to have patience with me while I learn how to live His way. Looking back, I can see that He has always loved me, always wanted me, but it was up to me to let Him in.

 

One of the most amazing and delightful changes, now that I have let Him in, is how full of joy I am, even though life is still hard. My problems didn’t magically disappear. In fact, for a little while, they seemed even bigger and more overwhelming. But underneath it all, even in the most difficult times, there’s this river of joy carrying me forward, and I find rest in God’s grace and peace.

 

Well, there’s a whole lot more I could say. I could talk about this forever, I think! But I’ll wrap up now with two of my favorite passages from the Bible.

 

The first is Hebrews 12, verses 1-3:

 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 

The second passage is from 1 Peter. Actually, all of 1 Peter is awesome — I love the whole book — but this is Chapter 2, verses 1-3:

 

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

 

I have, most certainly, tasted the kindness of the Lord.

 

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Simply beautiful. Candace, thanks for sharing your story.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, Skerrib. Candace'll read this, and I know she'll really appreciate your encouragement. Um. Which I'm sure she'll write to tell you. So. I'm … useless here…

  • Lynn

    Wow. My eyes have teared up. Candace's testimony of how she met God, is just awesome! How direct and articulate it is. I repeat Skerrib's comment…it truly is beautiful. I know exactly who I am going to share Candace's testimony with, my sister. We never know how the Lord will share our conversion story, but I know…that I know, Candace's story will touch my sister's heart, for she is still an active alcoholic after 32 years.

    Oh by the way John, umm…you are anything but useless, as a matter of fact, the Lord is using you at this very moment by sharing Candace's testimony with us…and He has been using you. Isn't it neat when we are unaware that He is using us…because then we can't claim any credit (glory) for it…God is sooo amazing!

  • yeu@nn

    Dear Candace, really, thanks for sharing your testimony. The prayer brought tears to my eyes (literally). :) I'm sharing this with my caregroup…

    :D

  • arlywn

    Good for you Candace! Congrats on the giving up drinking, and the gambling. You have done yourself a lot of good and have saved yourself from lots of pain and hardships. I'm also glad that you managed to find the inner peace in yourself through God…. so… enjoy your world from now on. I'm sure it will be cooler and safer now.

  • Dan Harrell

    Amen and I'll add my congratulations too, Candace. Your story is an inspiration.

    Our church was looking for a name for a new children's area and someone suggested FROG Hall. We all looked puzzled, until she explained that FROG means Fully Rely on God. If we are to be like little children in our faith, we have to grab on to our Father and let him keep us safe.

  • Kelly

    Candace,

    Thank you for sharing your story of Salvation. I have recently been born again and I know that joy that you speak of. I want to run to God's Word and absorb it all day.

    Praise God for his Grace!

    God Bless you Candace!

  • Linda

    God bless you, Candace, for sharing your awesome testimony.

    Many hearts will be touched by your courage in telling of your

    experience.

    We DO serve an amazing God!

  • Candace

    Oh, wow … thanks so much to ALL you guys for such wonderful comments, and all the encouragement and God-blesses and welcomes and praises for God. I'm feeling grateful in the extreme, and also a little speechless. Well … maybe not entirely speechless ;-0

    John: Thanks so much for your interest in my experience, and for sharing it here. You are so NOT useless, in so many ways, it's just crazy. Your blog and it's readers have ministered to me bigtime, already, and I've only been here a week. What a boon to have found you! Definitely a God thing.

    Lynn: My dearest, fondest hope and prayer is that my testimony be used by God to reach other alcoholics. I will be praying for your sister. Would she be ok with you sharing her first name?

    Dan: In my Wednesday morning bible study, FROG is big. AND, as a matter of fact, the first I heard of it was from Kristin and Kirby, parents of my friend Olivia who drowned. Who, btw, are expecting another baby later this month. So prayers for them are welcome. Their other daughter, Abbie, has cystic fibrosis. She's 7, and really looking forward to having a baby sister.

    Everyone who has mentioned sharing the prayer and/or testimony, by all means, have at it! Share far and wide, wherever you feel led by the Lord.

    And again, all you encouragers: I feel so very encouraged, and I thank you all again, from the very bottom of my heart.

    In Christ,

    Candace

  • Candace

    Oh, and Kelly! Ain't it grand being a newborn? I am so happy for you!

    I don't know how new you are, so forgive me if you already know this, but one of the things that kinda threw me at first was that the river of joy has some sections of class 5 whitewater. Who knew???

    It can be kinda disconcerting to be that deliriously happy. For me, the best way to deal with it turned out to be imagining myself in God's lap, on a roller coaster … both of us with our arms way up in the air to maximize the thrill.

    Happy recent rebirthday. God bless!

    Candace

  • FreetoBe

    Thank you, Candace.

  • Sandy

    Welcome to the family!!!

  • Kate

    Dear Candice,

    God loves it so much when we give Him the praise for saving us from ourselves and delivering us to Himself. My heart is so joyful for you and your new life -which I share with you in the same grace and mercy!!! Yes!!

    Believe me, your testimony isn't going to be limited to those suffering from addictions to alcohol or gambling! The healing which you've received and the candor of your surrendering heart -will be used by the Holy Spirit in ways we can't even know about until the Day when all will be revealed. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable…for being real and wonderful.

    Your sister in Jesus

    Kate

  • Laura

    And I still have tears in my eyes, 14 comments later. Thank you for being so willing to share how Jesus has changed you!

  • Pingback: Compelling testimony link « Samwrites2’s Weblog

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    My wife Catherine cried when she read this post, too.

  • http://ingridspeak.wordpress.com Ingrid Moore

    Okay I am pretty sure there is a rule against reading something that has you bawling (not just a couple of tears) at your desk while you are supposed to be working. That said I have posted the Cynic's Prayer (If that's okay) on my blog with a link to this post and I have printed for my cubicle. Thank you.

    Sometimes things happen in the midst of living and it takes a fresh perspective to show us how God is still moving and working even when we are are having such a hard time dealing with the things that happen in the name of religion that have nothing to do with God.

    Thank You!!!!!

  • Deb Wagner

    God bless you, Candace. You have made me realize that my struggle through life is worth it, with God and Heaven at the end of the road. Thank you..

  • Chris

    Hello Candice,

    Your testimony touched me to a very deep level. Thanks for sharing it with the world!!!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    GROUP HUG!

    (Bryan: Painful stuff. Listen, if this helps: Everyone — including every last Christian — doubts. Everyone worries a LOT more than they let on. Everyone feels out of control. Everyone is forever looking over their shoulder for what's chasing them; everyone is always fearing the wolf at their door. When it comes right down to it, you're afraid of death. You're afraid of Permanent Eradication. You're afraid the ground you walk on is quicksand; that life is just waiting to swallow you up. But it isn't. That's just … fear. You will die; you are out of control; the wolves WILL get you. So what? They get everyone. We're all in the same boat. Being a Christian isn't supposed to make you happy and wholesome and sinless. All it's supposed to do is give you a way to have a better, stronger sense of who you really are–which, as you know and say, is, basically, a Total Loser. So be a loser. Don't worry about "winning," or being "happy," or being Jesus' favorite. Jesus knows your pain. Jesus is with you. The Holy Spirit is inside you, telling you to … relax, basically. It's not so much that Jesus is waiting to CURE you; it's that he's waiting for you to simply be aware of the fact that he's with you.)

  • Candace

    Bryan, thank YOU, for being so transparent, and for writing what you did. I will think and pray on what you have written, but in the meantime, I stilled myself inside, here in the middle of the public library, and asked for guidance in what to tell you in this very moment. The immediate response was to tell you that you are loved and cared for by God, right now, right where you are, without any striving or performance or "works" on your part. Please know that you cannot (and need not) do anything for the Lord beyond loving Him and believing in Him. He has never loved you more, and He will never love you less. Just rest in that. Feel His love for you and His arms around you. Crawl up in his lap and tell Him everything and let Him reassure you that despite everything you fear, He has your back.

    Because He does. Everything that is over our heads, is already under His feet. He's got it all under control. Trust that. I am here praying for you, and will come back with more as the Lord moves.

  • FreetoBe

    John, that's why I come to this blog — you explain things so simply and really get to the heart of things. I was praying for Bryan in his pain, and here you come with that wonderful response that is so true yet so hard for most of us to articulate. And then Candace with her comforting words and obvious love. Man, what a morning. Thanks for this.

  • Bryan

    Candace,

    Your story has encouraged me so much this morning. I have been backsliding from the Lord for almost 2 years now, and my walk is filled with intermittent points where I want to serve him, and be on fire for him, but then I just so easily fall back into the snares of sin and the temptations of this world. I have made so many mistakes these past two years…things I never thought I would do, but I did them on my own will. I have never really had a relationship with the Lord like you have. I was saved I guess as a kid at a baptist revival…and since then I have been closer to God, but I have served him purely out of fear, pure fear, and shame. I try so hard, and fail so miserably day in and day out trying to live a life pleasing to him. I think maybe I have given up. I don’t know how to get to the Lord, and I am not so sure that I am even saved. My psychiatrist tells me I have PTSD, and because of that, I also have OCD, GAD, depression, and a borderline personality disorder, which means that my coping skills are immature. Apparently as a child I grew up in a rough environment and now I am the way I am, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t know what else to do. Everyday I am scared, always looking over my shoulder for something bad to happen. I have a really great job right now with great pay, but I am looking for the thing that is going to come and take it away from me. I can’t enjoy it or even be proud of myself because I am so scared everyday of losing it. This happened to me at my last job…my fear came true. I don’t know what else to do, and I have heard it all before…let the Lord take you pain away…follow the Lord. I know Jesus say to carry His yoke and His burden; that His yoke is easy and His burden is right…but I don’t think these things are in my heart, and I don’t know how to do them. I am so confused, I feel fake, and I am not sure of my salvation. I have all these conflicting voices telling me I am, and telling me I am not, and I don’t know who to listen to anymore. I just wanted to let you know that your story is encouraging, and I hope one day to have a conversion like yours. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I don’t know why I am telling you all this…really I do. I am crying out for help…and I think you or someone may have an answer. God bless you and I am so proud of you. My dad couldn’t stop drinking and he died tragically in a car accident in 1991 when I was 5 years old. I wish he could have been like you, and I want you to know how awesome it is that God has led you and helped you overcome such a terrible thing. It’s a wonder I am not an alcoholic with all the pain and stress I feel every single day. I have to much to lose becoming and alcoholic, and I can only praise and thank God that I am not. Some days, I think He is the only reason my life is not worse than it is; and it’s only because of His Grace and Love me for me which I don’t understand or deserve because I am wretched sinner. God bless all of you guys, and thank you once again Candace for your testimony.

  • Candace

    When I first started sharing my testimony with others, I was astonished that it seemed to make everyone cry. I thought to myself, “These Christians sure are a weepy bunch!”

    Then it began happening to me, too — soon I was crying in church, in recovery meetings, while talking with others, hearing their stories. It’s that softening of the heart of stone, I think, isn’t it? That heart-healing that happens as you rest in God’s peace while He teaches you to be vulnerable. All, in the end, for His glory. Amen.

  • K Sam Sunder Rao

    He that had started this good work in you will perform it until the day He returns in Glory, therefore Hold on to this confidence which has a great recompense and reward. Unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and present you faultless before the prescence of His Glory with exceeding joy, the only wise God our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour Be glory dominion power both now and for evermore, Amen and Amen. God bless you dear.

  • Steve

    Candace, Thank you for sharing your testimony. I am going to print it and share it with my sister-in-law who will be getting out of prison in about a week. I know that God is working in her life and maybe she will be inspired by your testimony to have the courage to take the step that you took and say, “OK God, I give up. I am Yours if You want me.”

    Praise God!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    thank you, Free. A lot.

  • Judy

    John, thank you for sharing Candace's testimony. It's powerful. And, it ministered to me. God's been speaking to me about endurance/ enduring lately, and there it is again in Candace's testimony. Ah, mysterious ways! Thank you both.

  • Michelle

    I have had a relationship with God for awhile now, but recently I have been facing trials and anxieties in life. I don’t know why He allows to go through what we do, but God has been my rock through these and has been my source of peace and security. But the enemy and my human nature wants to rob me of that joy and peace and sometimes I have a hard time trusting God or “feeling” his presence and love. But reading testimonies like yours reminds me of His unending grace and reminds me that I am his no matter how I feel. It’s not about me, but about Him and bringing Him glory.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Candance

    Candace, I couldn’t help but stop and read your testimony – mainly because your name caught my eye. My real name is Candance.

    I too spent the last few years allowing God to do some real work in my own life, and as difficult as that can be some times, God is working all things together for our good, for those who are called according to his purpose. And he certainly has a purpose for your life.

    I did a little research on the name Candace. She’s only mentioned one time in the bible. Maybe you already know this.

    Acts 8:27 “And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure,”

    In studying the name, Candace was not only one queen but it was a dynasty name for all the queens who ruled in Ethiopia some 500 years. Wealthy, powerful women.

    God is so good to us that even though we know we didn’t deserve it, he has positioned us as his queens on this earth. I try to keep that in mind knowing that The King will look after his queen and make sure that not only is she is taken care of and provided for, but she is given wealth, authority and power through the Holy Spirit to help her in everything that she does.

    I’m glad we share a namesake, but more importantly we share in the royal line of Jesus Christ – God’s blessing to you -

  • Mary

    Moving!

  • http://fibromyalgian.blogspot.com Calvin Bandini

    How can I be the only one to see this woman has had a nervous breakdown and is in dire need of medical/psychiatric attention?

    What was it that happened before your breakdown? You were desperate and needed a straw to grab. Sorry for the state, but there are worse.

    Own up. Don't hide in religion.

    And the rest of you: you're hypocrites and the evidence is that you have Internet access. Jesus demanded that all his followers give up everything they had, including their families, to follow him.

    Go! Follow! Sell everything you have to the poor!

    …Ah. Sweet, selective religion…

  • http://fibromyalgian.blogspot.com Calvin Bandini

    PLEASE — Bryan, check yourself into a hospital right now. It's not your fault that you or your beliefs can't make you feel better, nor the drugs.

    Call people. Call everyone you know. Call the local ER.

    Please. Get on the phone and don't hang up until you feel better… Even if the phone you let go of is next to your hospital bed.

  • Candace

    Wow, a whole new bunch of awesome comments. Thanks to all of you; each and every one. I can’t adequately express how gratifying it is to hear your thoughts and your stories and your encouragements, and know the ways in which you are touched and the Lord is glorified.

    Ingrid: It is totally cool that you posted the prayer. Ever since it came to me as a gift from God, I have pledged its use back to the Lord and shared it whenever and wherever the opportunity arose (never to this big an audience before, though; yay, John!). Of course, it is right, wonderful, and much appreciated that people give credit and link back here, so others can benefit from the wealth of wisdom and encouragement to be found in the pages of Suddenly Christian. So thank you for doing that.

    Candance: I was so surprised when I came across my (our) name in the Bible! Had no idea it was biblical/historical. My mom got it from a trashy romance novel (or as trashy as romance novels got in the late 1950s!). It was one of the little historicities I followed up on when I was doing my own little testing of the Bible’s accuracy too. So yeah, cool, I’m glad you wrote about that :-)

    Bryan: I took a nap this afternoon and woke up praying for you. Echoing in my ears, at the same time, were my friend Jon’s words, back when I asked him my God questions: “Just talk to God like He’s your buddy while you putter around the house.” Later on, in another context, Jon added that it really was way more than OK to be real with Him. Offer up to Him the frustration, the anger, the bewilderment, the sadness. If there’s ever a time NOT to slap on your happy face and fake wholeness and health, this would be it. God is more than big enough to take it, and He wants you to honestly share your heart with Him. At least, that’s how it has seemed to me. If I try to be all holy and perfect about it, I cannot feel God. He wants our weakness. It’s when we are naked and forlorn before Him that He can really work on us. Scary, but true. Oh, and everything John said was spot-on, at least in my experience. He’s smart :-0 Really smart. And funny, and loving, and humble, all at the same time. And not only that, he has such a sense of timing on the whole GROUP HUG thing.

    K Sam: Amen, indeed. That was beautiful, and reached right out through the monitor to touch and warm my heart. Abundant blessings to you, as well.

    Again, everyone, thanks for sharing and God bless you all.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    So I think we’ve all learned something really precious here, which is that while God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit certainly have their place, in the end everything truly enriching and great that happens happens because of me.

    At least, that’s what I’m getting out of all this. But that could just be me.

    Ark, ark, ark.

    Wonderful stuff, people. Really uplifting. Except for the part where I made that last joke and now have to go to hell. But besides that: fantastic. It really is an honor to host this sort of thing.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Calvin: re your comment #34: You might want to be a little kinder, and show–even if you have to pretend it–a little more respect for the experiences of others. This is hardly a woman in dire need of medical or psychiatric care. You might want to show a little more judiciousness in your exhortations, lest you make it too easy for others to ascribe to you the same kind of ignorant, knee-jerk, boorish lack of insight or intelligence that you so readily ascribe to others. Your response to Bryan shows you're a smart, caring person. Your response to Candace, though, shows you're still addled by an insensivity, or, frankly, an immaturity that, what the heck, you might as well put some energy into losing.

  • arlywn

    Bryan. Its totally okay that you are scared of life. really, it is. And I think deep down it bugs you that life doesnt ambush you around every corner- which makes you more afraid because now you're anticipating bigger scarier things to ambush you. Thats okay.

    Just, once a day- do something. Like go get a latte or something. Just 10 minutes. Do something for you. Get your down time.

    And do that for a while. And when you feel up to it. Spend 20 minutes in down time. And so on. And remember that life changes, and no one always has all the control, and not all the changes are bad.

    And Calvin's right. You should go out- meet people, meet things and enjoy life. Call people who can help you. Or just come to John's blog and vent at us. We love to listen and offer nifty advice.

    Oh, and IMHO, maybe you should check out other religions while you're at this. Maybe being a christian isnt right for you. You should not serve a god that you fear. Talk to your local pastor, a doctor. How about friends and family? Have you talked to them?

  • Candace

    Thanks, John, for you response to Calvin.

    I might also add that a person who has had a nervous breakdown and doesn't seek medical treatment does not steadily and miraculously get better and better and BETTER.

    Nope. Sorry :-) No nervous breakdown here, and all the healing I needed, straight from the Great Physician Himself.

    God bless you, Calvin. I'll be praying for you! (I know, I know. Bad, BAD Candace. But I couldn't resist!)

  • Candace

    Today I finished reading John’s book “I’m OK — You’re Not” and it got me to thinking about a very dear, long-time Christian friend of mine who loved me, for years, without ever giving me the feeling he was trying to convert me. That’s my friend Bill, the Baptist minister, who I mentioned in what I wrote above. I don’t know why he put up with me, truthfully, since I was forever challenging him on everything I perceived as being wrong with religion, and especially Christianity.

    I met Bill in 1999, when I hiked the last 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail. He was completing his first thru-hike of the AT (which runs 2,000+ miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine), and he and another friend eventually turned that into a fulltime ministry (www.heartbeatat.com). I think he’s done 6 complete thru-hikes now, ministering to hikers along the way and preaching at various churches on Sundays when he’s in a town.

    Anyway, I met him in ’99 and it wasn’t 20 minutes, I don’t think, before I challenged him on something. I forget what. He was so gracious. Over the following years of friendship, I kept it up. He never became argumentative, always took me seriously (even though sometimes I was just being a total pain in the rear) and just answered me to the best of his ability. I remember one time, I was having a hard time with life and we took a long walk on a beach in Maine. Just being testy and in a mood to provoke, I once again took a run at the whole “Christianity is sexist” canard. It was the first time I ever saw him get even a little bit frustrated. But all he said was, “Candy, I don’t think we are going to make any headway on this today, but you are asking great questions. Keep asking them, and some day someone will be able to explain it in a way that satisfies you. And when they do, you will see that far from being the issue you think it is, it’s a very balanced and beautiful thing.”

    Anyway, shortly after my rebirth, he came to visit me. When I told him what had happened, he was sooooo overjoyed. He literally wept. And then he told me that he had prayed for me every single day, since the very day he met me in 1999.

    Eight years. Every. Single. Day. Without me ever getting the impression from him, not once, that he was trying to evangelize me. Just loving me the way I was, and praying for me.

    Pretty darned awesome.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Candace,

    Your story is powerful. Thank you. And all your comments back to the folks here too… you are ahhh… blogging now too. You need to get an account and start posting!

    And yes, your friend and John's book both are pretty incredible. That's a great example of "a post."

  • Second Michele

    Praise God Candace! I lLOVE the cynic's prayer. Thank you for sharing. The faith that it takes to surrender to Christ for the first time is the same faith we need every day to stay in Christ.

    Sometimes it puts me to shame to see the simple faith of a new believer.

    Oftentimes however, us "older" Christians put off relying on God until we run into a crisis that reminds us why we came to Him in the first place. I think you're at a stage where you FEEL your desperate need of Christ everyday. Stay at the stage – don't ever "mature" into learning to do things "by yourself".

    Again, thanks for sharing, may God continue to bless you!

  • Candace

    Yeah, you may be right on that, Ric. I had thought of it before, and actually started a blog at one time. But then after a few posts, I got all shy and awkward and felt like I didn't have much to say. Apparently, in the year or so since then … well … things have changed! ;-) Might be time to try again.

    Michele: I love how a newbie story seems to renew and energize the more mature Christians. Conversely, the wisdom and longevity of the "older" Christians can be incredibly inspiring to the newer Christians as well, trust me.

    Nice how that works, eh? Almost like Someone planned it that way!

  • Linda

    Candace, I thank God that I got the privilege of reading your testimony! I love how you poured out your heart to God. You are right it is best to let it all out and let the tears flow. May God continue to bless you (I know He will.) and you grow closer to Him in all you do.

  • http://fibromyalgian.blogspot.com Calvin Bandini

    All,

    I truly appreciate the comments, and especially the kindness in which said were given…

    But I worry!

    The preceding events described in this situation and the very event described after…

    Psych 202…

    I think in an event like this we should proceed in an abundance of caution instead of burying the person in laurel leaves until his/her spine breaks…

    Nothing is solved and nothing is over. Yes, it sucks that that is the truth.

    But all of us must face it if we are to help…

    …Candace: You went through hell itself.

    You need to know YOU GOT YOURSELF THROUGH.

    YOU ARE THAT STRONG.

    Love and best

    –Calvin

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Whoops.

  • William Turner

    Candace, are you a writer? i had to go to dictionary.com twice while reading your messages. i think you have the gift. congratulations on your progress of coming to know Father in Heaven better. Candance is right you are a queen in embrio. Your father is King of Kings which makes you a princess. we all have the potential to grow to become like our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. we lived with them before we came to earth. They sent us off like parents sending their children to school. this life is our exam. we are being tested to see if we will do all things what so ever the Lord God will command us. He has given us all the tools we need to succeed. Father has sent His Son, our Elder Brother to provide the way to return back into our Father’s presence and inherit all that He has. He has not left us alone but speaks to us through his prophets past and present. He also speaks to us directly through revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. these are great gifts to strengthen us against the advisary and his minions. as we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, are baptized, recieve the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and endure to the end we will be clean before Him at the Judgement Day and enter into his presence. we can live in the Celestrial Kingdon with our family resting from the cares of this world. the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood authority is restored to the earth to perform the sacred ordinances. Twelve Apostles have been restored along with His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. I have gained a testimony of the truth of these things as I have been born again leaving a life of unhappiness behind as yourself.

    thank you for your inspiration,

    your brother in the Lord.

  • Jersey

    Awesome Candace great Testimony to receiving the King of Kings into your life. welcome to the family.

  • Beth

    Dear Candace-

    Welcome to the family, indeed. Your story brought me to tears- of joy! What I want you to know is that you have something to teach even lifelong believers. I was brought up in the church, have had ups and downs and am now in seminary as a second career minister. Even so, you remind me that I must continue to surrender my image of who I am, to immerse myself in prayer and scripture- not just theology, in short to surrender all. You are very honest about the condition your were in, but remember all of us are a mess. Some of your sins were just more visible. For many of us, sin is easy to hide and deny.

    Thank you for your willingness to share.

    Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

  • Candace

    Linda, Jersey – Thanks so much! I love knowing that my story has meaning for you. Wonderful.

    William – Apparently more of a writer than I had previously thought. If I don't start my own blog soon, I may run the risk of getting nudged off of John's (thanks for your generosity with the bandwidth, John!) Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I enjoyed it.

    John – didja drop something?

  • Candace

    Calvin, sweetie, I needed a day to consider how to respond to you.

    Being relatively new to this walk (16 months, this week!), I am still toddling in many ways. So my initial reaction was frankly to be irritated. (Ok, angry.) I sat with that for a bit, and let it go.

    Then I looked at the way in which your dismissive, patronizing tone hurt me a little. But in doing so, I remembered those 50 years I spent living in darkness, and it occurred to me that when that is where you've always lived, you have no way of knowing what it feels like to live in the light. So there's really no way for you to comprehend what has happened to me, and understanding that, I let the hurt go, too.

    Beyond the hurt and the anger, all there is for me to feel and know is my Father's love. In the interest of truth, I must tell you, unequivocally, I DID NOT get myself through. I AM NOT that strong. And you may wanna take a page out of MikeFVThinker's book, and realize that you have no legitimacy in explaining away another's experience. None.

    I will not defend something that requires no defense. Unless you bring something new to the table, my end of our conversation is complete.

  • Candace

    Beth – Thank you so much for that verse. That's great! How awesome that you are in seminary. God bless that work.

    Surrender has been, for me, what it is all about. What a paradox it is that by giving it all up, we gain more than we ever could have imagined. But how wonderful! And once I was able to surrender, and experienced that for real, it was just more proof. More evidence :-) And I said to myself (for like the 1000th time), WOW, He meant that literally!

    I have given thanks innumerable times for the obviousness of my alcoholism. I am truly grateful for the lessons the Lord has taught me through it, and the "permission" granted by the label to be involved in recovery.

    Thanks again for your comment and encouragement.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    I love reading-listening to you Candace. You make me smile.

  • Candace

    (blushing)

    And a wonderful smile it is, too, Ric. So … spontaneous and joyful :-)

    Thank you. You have made my day (which is just starting, as I work nights).

  • Latoya

    Amazingly beautiful!

  • Kristin

    Candace you have always had an amazingly beautiful and kind soul and God in his infinite wisdom has been right with you, waiting for you to turn and look his way. Thanks for sharing all of your gifts with our family and blessing all who are fortunate enough to find this site.

  • Candace

    Aw, cool. The awesome comment (blush) above is from my dear, dear, infinitely dear friend Kristin, who is Olivia's mom. I love you guys! Thanks for loving me too :-)


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