Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Personal Testimony and a Reflection on Resting in God

Hi, I’m Amy. And, I have trust and abandonment issues.

My biological father was a troubled, angry, problem-laden, hurting man, from what I understand.  And, it’s by God’s grace that I survived my first few years. 

My mom was a scared 16 year old, when she had me. I know she always did the best she could to protect and provide for me. Looking back, I’m so grateful she had the sense of mind she did, despite all she was going through (most of which I’ll never truly know of, I’m sure). 

Eventually, my mom would meet and marry a good, hard-working man, who endeavored to love and legally adopt me.  My biological father never showed up to contest it.  In fact, I didn’t see him after the age of four, I think. I believe God to be convicting his heart, even then, despite him not knowing God, yet.  (I pray he knows Him now) I believe by choosing not to be present, my biological father was choosing to try and give me a better/the best life. 

But it’s a hard thing, you know.  A soul knows abandonment and rejection even when not old enough to comprehend it.  I’ve been battling with the abandonment, and ineptness of flesh and blood, for so long. But, as a wise friend once said, “Sometimes the best example is what not to do”.  There is truth and fuel in this.

Raised Roman Catholic, I believed in God, but I was far from Him in relationship.  I was truly saved in high school.

A wildly vibrant blond gal in my class simply known as the resident “Jesus Freak” (will ever be thankful to God for her) invited me to her Baptist youth group meeting, and I loved it. I don’t remember the exact moment or day I became saved, but I know I believed in Jesus, and I know I prayed the sinner’s prayer, and I know I believed and was very grateful for His saving grace, then.  More prominently, I remember being wildly torn about fitting in to the in crowd, but wanting desperately to stay in God’s will, out of sin. All of my friends up to the point were sexually active and drug and alcohol curious and pursuant. 

It was a terrible battle. There was such a God-sized hole in my soul. I wish I had the strength then to choose to be filled by Him and Him alone, no matter the persecution I feared it would have brought.  Wanting to be wanted can truly drive one to doing the most futile things, and stay around the other hurting ones/people.

I ended up graduating and heading off to college in Rhode Island.  I chose the only thing aside from singing that I was being recognized for, and receiving positive feedback for… riding horses. And with that, my spirit crying out and sensing my poor decisions and misdirection, I chose to lose myself entirely to a life of sin, addiction, and self-sabotage.  Those were incredibly lonely years.

I worked and went to school all the time. Working hard became a covering for what was really going on. No amount of money made, or time spent making it, could fix that hole in my soul.  That need to be needed, that need to be wanted, that need to be loved.  It’s shuddering, however, what the soul believes is love and life, in the midst of utter junk that it chooses.

I eventually was chosen to study a year abroad in Holland. It was there that the ugliest of turns was taken, and I chose to enter an adulterous relationship.

Upon returning from Holland, I was in the worst of ways. A scared, lonely, confused woman living as if a child, back in her parents home, now needing to become apart of the “real world”, yet so longing to be detached from anything having to do with such an ugly world.

I found a job training horses in Pawling, NY, which eventually lent itself to me job-hopping until I found myself in Florida. It was always one excuse or another, but I really was always just trying to escape. Later I would realize that it was myself that was the inescapable constant.  

I accepted the devil’s lies. I believed that I wasn’t good enough. Nobody wanted me. Nobody loved me. I was never going to succeed. I was a failure. I was a nobody, from nowhere, bound to do nothing.  I lost myself to physical relationships with men, thinking that if I could just give men what they wanted, eventually someone would choose to keep me around for my willingness to meet their physical needs and desires. The only time I ever talked to God was to beg Him for me not to get pregnant.  I wanted to be married and begin a life with someone, one day.  In my mind, even if someone did choose me, I believed I would never really know what true love is. Love as I knew it, was a battlefield of misuse, and manipulation.

I remember being so overwhelmed, and so at my wit’s end, that one night while doing a security night check at the horse barn, I began crying uncontrollably and sank to the floor, barely able to breath. I had a cousin, just days before, give me the number to her therapist, whom she said was an excellent one; and I pulled up the number on my phone, and at 11PM at night, I dialed it, and she answered. And an appointment was set. Years of therapy with this woman would become a catalyst to helping me deal with much of the pain I was carrying, and also be a blessing to what God is showing me is becoming a ministry. (God makes ways)

But, the fact remained…. I was angry, and while in so much anguish one day, while riding a horse that I was to train for sale, I got angry with her, and the horse checked out and reared and fell over backwards on the both of us; and my leg was broken.  And suddenly I found myself, unable to “work”. I was forced to rest and reflect. To stop the incessant movement was near torture.  Broken tibia. Broken hand. Broken heart. Broken life. I was at rock bottom.  I really thought I was dead, and if I wasn’t, I wanted to be.  But God….

It just so happened that I had taken a side job, which was to start in a few days following this incident. You see, it wasn’t an accident. What the enemy intends for evil, God always intends for good.  God makes ways…

I was to stay overnight with the kids from a family originally out of Wisconsin, who enjoyed their winter months in Florida.  The parents were going away for a week and needed someone to oversee their 4 girls in the evenings, ages 7 to 16. 

Even with injury, they chose to keep me in that job, which was a tremendous blessing, because I had immediately gotten fired from my main job after being injured. 

So, this opportunity not only afforded me a safe haven to recover, but a way to recover and still pay bills while recovering.  (God makes ways)

I can’t say that I repented and sought God at this point, though I know I was feeling lucky to have survived.

Eventually after 6 months I was healed and ready to find a more permanent placement.

When you are made to rest, to take a step back from the “normal”, even through vicious and upending circumstances, it isn’t a bad thing, unless you look at it through skeptical, and pessimistic eyes. 

I was so busy keeping busy to avoid the truths that caused my true pain, my internal pain, I was not allowing myself a chance to heal or turn to my Savior King.  Life can sweep you up, even if you aren’t really enjoying it.  It’s sometimes so much easier to stay in the pain, or stay a lone-island, than face the root of it all! It’s easier to stay in the familiar of pain, rather than rest in the peace that God offers. Unfamiliar territory is still scary, even if it’s landscape is much better, and offers so much more than the one, one is used to.  But God….

So I returned to NY, and found a job in a relocation company in Danbury, CT. This was a miracle in and of itself.  I was terribly unmarketable, even though with business degree, my expertise was in horse training and farm management.  But God….

The wife of one of my mother’s cousins worked there and recommended me, and that is the only way I was hired.

There I met a raw, beautiful, single mother, and un-coincidentally, the administrative executive for the team on which I was placed (God makes ways), who invited me to her church one day. 

At this point, I found my way into singing for a wedding band, and such. I was still living a life of sin. I kind of shirked at the idea of walking into a church as a hypocritical mess.  But God…

One Sunday morning in October 2005, I woke up in the bed of a co-worker in New Milford, CT.  I didn’t know what had proceeded the night before, but I felt as filthy in my soul, as I looked and smelt.  I got in my car and began to drive home, and I remember being completely “done” with everything. I finally got real with God. 

I remember driving, crying terribly, and saying “God what I’m doing is not working”.  It was an AHA (revelation) moment. And just as I submitted, just as I finished saying those words, there was the church (to which my single mom administrative executive friend invited me), and it’s enormous front and cross, appearing to my right, and I turned my car into that parking lot.

I remember standing in the way back, away from everyone, but I remember the feeling I felt. I felt as if I found a safe place.  A home base. Someplace different. A way for change to happen. And the music. The singers. They were so wonderful!  I remember thinking “I’m going to do that!”.  A hope welled within me that I hadn’t experienced before.

Months later, I would try out for choir, and that very night, meet my husband.

Ironically, I would pursue a relationship with him originally because I was looking for someone to be a roommate with, and he seemed to have it all together with a stable job, and outlook.  But God…

One night on the way home from a date/concert in the city, I felt and saw him (I had my head resting on his chest) through the reflection of the glass on the train, praying silently over me. And in that moment, I knew that I would marry the man.  No one had ever cared enough to pray for me.

We would be engaged 3 months later. Married 1 year later.

He would later tell me that my tenacity for encouraging and witnessing him improve himself in his own life, with his own boundaries with family and friends, would bless his love for me further. 

It’s wild how I could help and encourage this man change for the better, yet I was still so stuck in my own life, ways, bad habits from the past, etc… While I had sworn off drugs, drinking and even sex (until we married), I was still so very damaged and manipulative in my comings, goings, thinking and doings.

I began to learn and grow and be blessed with Christ-ordained friendships in the church.  I began to learn God’s Word. I began to believe it and speak it.

God would use my husband also, and his blessed patience, persistence, consistency and stability to be a tangible reflection of His unfailing, grace-filled, miraculous, constant love.

My husband is like no other that I’ve ever met in this world. Matchless in compassion, understanding, wisdom and relationship with God Himself, he is my angel, and my closest friend. God truly chose for me above all I can ask or think.

I often struggle still, thinking, I’m so undeserving of such love, both with Jesus and my husband.  But then He sings over me as in Zephaniah 3:17 “I am in your midst. I am mighty to save, and mighty to deliver. I will quiet you with my love. You are my beloved upon whom my favor rests”.  And I tremble, and gasp. Such love. Such unfailing love. Who am I that God Himself should bless me so? And the blessings, they continue…

A day before I found out that I was pregnant with my answer (my daughter’s name means “God has answered”), I was laid off from my job. It was devastating at first.  I found such identity in being useful in a job. Once again, in my mind, I was being rejected.  But God…

Once we found out we were pregnant, we determined I would be staying at home with our baby.

And then the foundation of my spiritual walk came to be. Every day for 9 months, I sat and listened to sermons on TBN. Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Joel Osteen, Charles Stanley. You name the preacher and I was listening and taking notes, the whole day through. The foundation I received in my walk with Christ through this time period is still proving priceless to me. But, He ordained it to be so. He made me to rest, so I could “find” Him.  

In various ways since, God has made me to walk through uncomfortable situations in challenging my unhealthy connections, relationships, boundaries, and damaged defense mechanisms.  And I imagine He will continue to. In order to be birthed, one must be pushed, and through really narrow and dark places at that!

God has been forcing me to rest, and rest in Him, and pushed me all along in that, in ways that otherwise seemed devastating. But they were not. He’s proven them not to be.

These were just big wake up calls and ways to help me strengthen my foundation in Him, for the next glories.   He’s proven to never leave me or forsake me. He’s proven over and over that He loves me, and while I’m peculiar, I’m called to be a prophet unto the nations, singing and speaking of His steadfast love and faithfulness! An encourager and exhorter in the body of Christ, and worshipper of all that He is. Omnipotent. Omniscient. Able. Faithful. Mighty God!

Had God allowed me to remain on my planned paths, He only knows where I’d be.  I shudder to think, but He truly does work all things for good to those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. He makes ways when they are no ways, but not in ways we may believe or feel are not good at all!

If there is ever an admonition chant about rest, I can say it’s this…. Believe God, no matter what it looks like.

He always comes through. There comes a time in every believer’s life that your faith will be tested. I exhort you today, you must believe the report of the Lord.


We must make a choice to believe God. No matter what we are going through, no matter what our situations, no matter how bad it looks, we must trust God! We must choose to believe. Take Him at His word. He loves us too much to leave us the same. He will change us in and through rest that comes through shock at times. But He will mold you, the clay, for He is the best potter.  He takes the Bread, blesses the Bread, breaks the Bread, and then gives the Bread. We are the Bread.  Now Go with God and Grow! I know I will ever be!

5 comments:

  1. Thank you Amy
    That was very beautiful and encouraging to read. Through our testimony, we can be a walking billboard to the One most High. I struggle daily and have been in my storm, desert and wilderness for over 2 yrs now. I know God is directing my life and will lead me to the land of milk n honey..worry, fear and loneliness consume me at times. But I will not lose my Faith or Trust in God. Thank you for inspiration in your words and music.
    Tom DeRoma

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    1. Amen, Brother Tom! I agree! We are all walking testimonies for God and His glory, for sure! I don't know the specifics of your struggle but I do hear God whisper this morning to you (and to us all)...

      "You will reign with Me! What a wonderful hope I have given you, My beloved! My work in your heart is not yet finished, although you have all of Me for all that you lack.

      "A special and glorious work is being done in your heart, for you are My chosen and My redeemed one. My perfect work is being accomplished in your soul, the power of My blood at My altar of love will complete you in every way. Then you will be like Me, and reign at My side, My eternal friend.

      "The victory of My cross lives in you. Many see the pain and suffering but your eyes will focus on the glory and joy that is set before you. For everyone who has this hope living in them will be purified as gold.

      "Nothing can set you aside and nothing will defeat you as your eyes are locked onto Me!

      "The restoration of your family will be complete as I prepare you to be a healer of many. My glory is hidden from those whose eyes are filled with the things of the world, but for you, I will reveal My glory as your heart remains fastened to Me.

      "I have called you to enter into My reigning and glorious presence, to live at My side and be eternally Mine. The kingdoms of this world will soon become My kingdom, for I am the Lord of all.

      "So come and enter into life. Be one with Me in My reigning presence and all else will vanish. What a wonderful, living hope I have birthed within you!

      Set this hope as a torch that burns in your heart and you will see with your eyes the restoration of all things."

      Colossians 1:27 TPT
      "Living within you is the Christ who floods you with the expectation of glory! This mystery of Christ, embedded within us, becomes a heavenly treasure chest of hope filled with the riches of glory for His people, and God wants everyone to know it!"

      (~B Simmons)

      Be blessed, Tom. I will continue to lift you, your bright and shining ministry and life for God, and all that you endeavor to do with Him, in Him and through Him, as well as lift Your family and all that He has for them in love and prayer. Be blessed, as you are a blessing. Be encouraged, as you are encouraging. And know that He is great in and through you! In His Love and By His Grace ~ Amy O

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  2. wow Ame, such clarity and beauty in your words. You are a gift and God uses you with every word you say and write...I love you!

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    1. My Amazing Husband, and Best Friend (my God-given gift). I'm ever grateful for you, for your love, example, support and care! Thank you for encouraging me. Your encouragement means most! Perhaps the most glorious blessing I can receive in this land of the living is sharing this life with you and our beauty-angel girl! I love you more than words and deeds can express! Thank you for loving me too! I am ever awed, and ever grateful, in this! ~ Yours Always ~ "Ame" xo

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  3. Life is so different.I wanted God to bless me as I was living in denial about who I was and whose I am. When I truly let the word minister to me it changed my heart. I've had to stop serving the world and God. Cant be double minded. Hope all is flowing in abundance.

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