A quarter of a century ago, a 14-year old girl sat in a lodge up in the mountains of Colorado and heard a message that would change her life.
Like every moment, it is the time, the days, months, years that lead up to it that makes it significant. The years that led up to that moment in the lodge were filled with a collection of beauty and pain, truth and lies, health and poison.
I had grown up in a home where my mom loved and served God, taught in a Christian school, and was faithful in all she did. My dad however was an abusive alcoholic causing deep rooted scars and pain to everyone in the home. When I was twelve, my dad went to prison for what he did to me, and my mom filed for a divorce. It was a very painful time, yet it was so important because the home was no longer a place of hurt. It was a place to heal. However, no one can heal properly without the power of God in their lives. The realization of how bad someone is hurting sometimes doesn’t compute until the pain has stopped being inflicted, that’s when the reality sets in of how bad it hurts, how scarred you are. So once the abuse stopped, the anger and the pain started to reveal itself. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Growing up in church, but having an abusive home created this confusing catastrophe in my life. I knew there was a God, and I knew He created and loved me. Even with that knowledge, my heart was a mess that showed nothing but hurt and anger. This was who I was when I entered the lodge at camp to hear the message that would change my life.
It was a message of repentance. The preacher told of the importance of not only believing there is a God who sent His Son to save us from our sins, but the value of turning your back on the sin and pain of your life. He taught us about the command to take a 180 degree turn from that behavior, addictions, and habits. I realized at that moment that even though I had believed in God, I had never turned away from my sins and given my life to Him. As the Pastor gave the invitation, I couldn’t get to the altar fast enough. That night, I gave my heart and life to God, dedicating it to serving my Savior, Jesus Christ. As I turned my back on my sin and my anger, God began a life-long process of healing and continued my story of making beauty from ashes.