My testimony (warning: TLDR)

Today I’m going to share my story. A lot of you may know my story, but most of you likely have only heard the highlights. The truth is not pretty and very real. I’ve joked a few times that my life could be a soap opera, or a tele nueva if you will. I’ve been listening to and reading some Trent Shelton lately and he’s inspired me to begin this new chapter by sharing my story.

When telling your life story, it’s hard to know where to begin. My life began as a happy accident. My parents found out they were expecting, and got married on February 14, 1986. Exactly 5 months before my debut. Everyday I thank them for choosing me. I grew up Catholic, attended a few Catholic schools and then switched to public schools and lots of CCD (Catholic Education). I went through all the normal Catholic rites, baptism, first communion, and confirmation. I knew Jesus and Mary and all the saints, but kind of took it for granted. When I moved away for undergrad, I stopped attending church. The guy I was dating told me he wanted me to know Jesus, so I dumped him. Thanks, but no thanks. After a scare with the police and being taken to the ER after what was mistakenly taken as a suicidal threat, I was shook. And lost. I was invited to a bible study by my dorm neighbor, and I tried it out mostly to just make some new friends. This became the beginning of my journey to truly find Jesus.

It didn’t happen overnight. I started dating a new guy who had a similar religious upbringing as me. He also didn’t really take it seriously, and we became comfortable with each other. But as I continued going to bible study and joining my new friends at Cru weekly, I started reading and learning more about this Jesus guy. He actually wasn’t all that bad. Spring break of my Sophomore year I attended a retreat in Panama City Beach where for the first time in my life everything came together for me. That week I accepted Jesus as my savior for the first (real) time. As an adult choosing to follow Him. I sent a really long and really hard email to my boyfriend at the time explaining what I had learned and inviting him to join me on my journey. I fully expected him to leave, but instead he signed up to try his best. Despite us growing in our faith together, we had too many holes in our relationship. There was a lack of trust on his end, and he never fully forgave my mother and me for events that occurred in the past. Our relationship was not a healthy one, so I ended it after 2 years and a few months.

Because I had invested and opened up fully to him, it took me just about a year to fully recover from the heart ache that ensued. It also didn’t help that his mother suddenly died about two months after we broke up. Her death threw us back together before either of us were ready. The pain, grief and sorrow surrounding that time in our lives made me just want to be there for him, despite all the unhealthiness that surrounded us. Thankfully, I was able to move on and thought I had finally found a healthy dating relationship about 9 to 10 months later.

I made the mistake of thinking the ex boyfriend and I could be friends. Y’all, this is not always possible and because of this, he grew jealous. A year after we broke up, he basically made fun of the guy I was seeing. Maybe the new guy felt threatened. Maybe he thought I wasn’t over the ex. Whatever it was, he basically told me to go fly a kite. So I went into my next dating relationship out of a mixture of desperation and revenge. I dated my ex’s best friend, and when I broke up with him I destroyed any and all friendship with my ex and his friends. I jumped right into another relationship that felt too soon and too fast. This guy kept pressuring me to have sex, which by the way I hadn’t done yet. I was waiting for marriage, which was reinforced by my relationship with Jesus. Even though at this point, I was falling away from church and reading the bible regularly. That was when Vince came into my life.

We had been acquaintances for about two years, we had met at a job I had in 2007 when I was still with my ex. He posted on Facebook in 2009 that his new company was hiring and I needed a job so I applied. I got the job and he became my boss. It wasn’t long before I was once again single (2009 was the year of the flings, I burned through about 3 or 4 guys within 9 months) and we started flirting. The only issue was, Vince was married. He was married when I had met him and he was still very much married. Actually, his wife worked at the same company as us. Needless to say, at this point in my life I was very far from my relationship with Jesus, and I used every excuse I could think of to accept Vince and tell myself his marriage was over anyways.

Long ass story short, we went to hell and back. He moved in way too soon. I broke my promise to myself and God. A year later he was divorced and we were officially a couple. I fought every sign God was throwing at me to stay with him. We had been dating for almost 3 years when he proposed to me. Since I was hell bent on making us work, I said yes. I really wanted to at least do the right thing, even if I didn’t wait for marriage I really wanted to just have on partner for life. I wanted to be married, have kids, and live happily ever after. We went through pre-marital bible study with our pastor, and Vince lit up for Jesus. It actually gave me hope that perhaps we could get back to faith and grow together with God.

This was, unfortunately, short-lived. It wasn’t long before no matter what church we tried, Vince was just not interested. Shortly after my mom, who was my best friend, passed away, I remember crying in the passenger seat of his car when he flat out told me if I wanted to attend church, I could go alone. Not long after, I discover he’s cheating on me with more than one person. He moves out and files for divorce. Despite me offering to go to couple’s therapy and make it work. Despite me telling him I love him and signed up for the long haul. See, I didn’t believe in divorce. I still don’t. But he didn’t choose me. He chose someone else. Just like he chose me over his first wife, he chose his third wife over me. In the midst of all the pain, I found myself having a panic attack. And after hyperventilating and nearly calling an ambulance, I heard God tell me He had someone better for me. He revealed to me His plan, and yet I still fought it.

It took me a year to get over my first unhealthy dating relationship. This time instead of just working on myself, I made poor choices to find redemption in all the wrong places. I dated around. I found a friend with benefits situation, a guy who would come over most nights just to keep me company. While I finally found my church home while going through my divorce, I still didn’t allow Jesus to be enough. I still wanted more. I still wanted to pave my own path. I “dated” the wrong guy for almost 8 months. I let him be my crutch until I was fed up and left him. And once again, instead of turning my ears and heart towards Jesus, I turned to all the wrong places. I started dating again, and sold myself short. Before I knew it, I was in a situation I never imagined happening.

I was pregnant with someone’s baby who didn’t care about me at all. I was facing the scary and all too real situation of single motherhood. I was scared and alone. I had tried my hardest to create my own life plan, and here I was messing everything up. A beautiful mess. A happy accident. My beautiful and life-changing daughter was born in April 2019. And if you read my last post, you know what happened next. I found myself falling for someone who didn’t love me. I was once again, stubbornly trying to pave my own path. I kept telling myself that he will wake up one day and see how amazing I am.

What I didn’t realize was that I was wasting my time and breath. I was delaying the inevitable. He can’t see me. He doesn’t want to see me. I can’t make anyone love me. I couldn’t make my ex-boyfriend love me in a healthy way. I couldn’t make my ex-husband love me in a health way. I can’t make the father of my baby love me. I had chosen to put myself in unhealthy relationships my entire adult life. I had chosen to be miserable and not listen to what God has for me.

I knew what I had to do. And that’s where I am now. I am making time daily to spend time reading God’s words. I am making time daily to pray and worship. I’m writing so much (this is literally the shortest thing I’ve written in weeks, YIKES!) and setting my eyes and sight towards Him and what He has for me. I am willing to be single for the rest of my life, for the love of God is enough for me. No longer am I looking to these puny humans to fulfill my needs. Instead, I find everything I need in Jesus and my relationship with him.

I’m still writing my testimony. I’m still on the path towards recovery. I’m still writing out and imagining what a healthy dating relationship even looks like. Thanks for reading this, if you made it this far I am forever grateful.

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What faith means to me

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Some common questions I get from friends, family, and acquaintances:

  • Why are you not more angry over what happened to you?
  • How is it that you’re happy despite everything you’ve been through?
  • How is it you continue to believe in God even after He took away everything you wanted?
  • How do you find your strength and courage?

I’m here to tell you that this journey I’ve been on, the one I call faith, has not been the easiest one. It has had it’s ups and downs, and I fully expect it to for the rest of my life. A quick look at my history within the Christian realm:

I was raised Catholic. For three elementary school years, I attended two different Catholic schools. The three years were miserable, with the third taking the cake. My mom listened and showed me grace by placing me in the local public school starting in 4th grade. But no fear as I continued CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) through middle school. Basically, continuing education for Catholics. After I graduated high school and went away to college, I decided to officially stop pretending to be Catholic and leave religion for the old ladies with rosaries.

During my first semester in college, I dated a guy who wanted me to “know Jesus” so I dumped him. #byefelicia. By the second semester, I was lost, alone, and sad. Someone invited me to a bible study, and I went mostly to just make friends. Through the small group, I started making some amazing friends. And I discovered Campus Crusade for Christ. While I was a part of the small group, I didn’t really get into Cru until my sophomore year. Through this small group and the amazing things I did with Cru, I accepted Jesus as my savior and chose to have a relationship with Him. The rest is history. But like I said, it hasn’t been an easy journey. At times, I’ve fallen away from my faith, but I’ve always had my belief in God to fall back on. A crutch, if you will. Even when I disobey, I still feel His love.

But I never needed it as much as I’ve needed it over the past two years. Through the death of a parent, a divorce, a life-changing move and now marathon training, I’ve never felt closer to God. And that’s where I am now.

This past week, we celebrated our 5th birthday at my church (Free Church) and this amazing pastor Brett Jones visited us and had an amazing message. And it’s too good to keep inside. So this is my version of it. Welcome to my mind. Make yourself comfortable, today we go deep.

(Genesis 22:1-14)

It’s important for us to know that not every test comes from Satan. The life of a Christian should be expanded and grown upon. For example, one way to know if someone is ready to be passed from one grade to the next is to test them. God doesn’t test you to break you. He tests you to prove you. The difference between temptation and test: Satan tempts you. God tests you. One is to destroy you, the other is to promote you.

A sure way to wreck your life is to think you can take everybody with you. God calls you for your assignment and you alone must go. Some people need to stay with the donkey (Genesis 22:5). Don’t try to take them where they don’t have grace to go. Abraham knew that something was going to happen on that mountain that the young men he was with couldn’t handle. There are some places that only you and your sacrifice can go.

Most of the time there isn’t a crowd when God proves himself to you. God will allow you to prove yourself and He will rewrite the story after your proving ground. If you’ll give God your stuff, He’ll give you His stuff. This story in the Bible introduces one of the greatest themes of the Bible: substitution. Abraham and Isaac met God on a hill outside of Jerusalem. Abraham saw a lamb (substitution), Jesus was the lamb.

Jesus was crucified on the same hill where God tested Abraham, just thousands of years apart. As Abraham climbed that hill, his thoughts centered around the death of his only son. As God climbed that hill, his thoughts centered around how amazing Abraham was and his amazing will to pass the test He was placing on him. His faith led him to where God wanted him. God tied up a lamb to replace Isaac as the sacrifice. And Abraham had no idea this all was in store for him, he just took a step in faith.

Are you living in faith or fear? Do you check everything before taking every step? Do you over-analyze everything going on? God sees the whole picture. He is the author of our story, and He has the ability to rewrite it. Even if you feel like you’re destined to live without God, anything is possible. Even if you feel too evil, or too far from Jesus, He still loves and chooses you. If you’re interested in learning more about what I believe in, reach out to me. This is just a tiny snippet of my story, and my story is still being written.

Lots of love,

Jen