For as long as I can remember, I’ve had faith. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trust. If one knew the history of my life, they would wonder how this little girl escaped the clutches of the enemy and rose above the curse that was surely attached to my childhood. My self-diagnosis ……. God.
One of the earliest memories I have, which happens to be one of the last childhood memories of my mother, is well before kindergarten, which at that time started when you were about six years old. I remember my mother, coming to the back yard as I was standing on the highest place I could find. I strove to find the closest place to God I could ……… a 4×4 piece of scrap wood I had put on an overturned 2 quart pot my mother had given me to “mix” ingredients for mud pies.
Out of the blue, she appeared. She stood at the back door with this weird look on her face, a puzzlement to me that looked like a swirl of love and question. I wondered if I was in trouble. She raced to me and gave me the biggest hug and the best kisses a kid could ask for. She said, “Mrs. Cratz from across the street just called and said you were singing at the top of your lungs!” I thought for sure I was in trouble, despite the hugs and kisses. If I had disturbed the neighbors, it was surely a serious offense. My mother said, “Mrs. Cratz said you were so beautifully singing, “At the Cross,” that she was moved to tears.” I would imagine there was no beauty in the notes at the belting of my song, perhaps it was simply the words.
I later learned, I was four years old.
Directly across the street from our little house, was a small Baptist church. When I say “across the street,” I mean about 8-10 adult paces. We lived in a very tiny town. This was my place of refuge. I loved God. I loved the people who loved God, and apparently, by the time I was four, I was dressing myself in my finest and attending church by myself. I remember one time I couldn’t find any clean underwear, so I wore my brothers, haha. I was scolded for this when I got home, but it was worth not missing Sunday morning church! Oh, how I loved those songs! They spoke to me, ministered to me. At the time, I didn’t know why. I didn’t realize the circumstances I was in were abnormal and potentially life altering. I just knew, I loved God!
This was my saving grace.
Life happened, as it unrealistically does. I went through some hard, horrible, and terrible things. They were not exclusive, my siblings experienced them as well and in no way have I ever felt singled out, like I was the only one, or had feelings of “poor pitiful me.”
Save your pity for someone who needs it, I’m an overcomer!
Then I was married. Then I had kids. Still, my burdens were light. As I worked my way through my horrors as a child, I sought God, my heart needed Him. Before I ever knew salvation, He was all I had ever known. Marriage brought new challenges, but my children brought new opportunities. A gift, a second chance to change that curse of childhood, to do better. I was committed. I was determined.
As a young adult and mother in the Christian community, I would often hear older folks say, “I wish Jesus would just come back now.” I admired and looked up to these people, but in my heart, I didn’t feel the same. That made me feel guilty, lacking spiritually somehow. In truth, I wanted to see my three handsome boys become men. As a homeschooling, dedicated mom, I wanted to see the fruits of my labor come to pass. I wanted to see marriages, grandchildren ……. I wanted to see my babies flourish. I knew this was a selfish thing, somehow, somewhere. But I couldn’t deny, it was how I truly felt.
Today, almost twenty years later, so much has been experienced since the days of naivety and innocence. My view has changed drastically.
My son, nine tender years of age, asks me, “Isn’t Jesus coming back soon, Mama?”
The days of levity and carefree illusions are past. Sam sees what I see. We both see what the elders of my day must have seen. Devastation on a personal level, of drugs and sin in those we love. I see siblings struggle with past issues that has led them down a different path. They have often asked me how I turned out so normal when everyone else seems to be such a mess. I used to feel guilty about that, honestly. And hey, I’m not really that normal. I’ve strayed, made mistakes, done some really stupid things, but I’ve always had God. And that’s what I tell them.
On the news Sam sees innocence lost in that beautiful twelve year old girl forced to execute a Christian at the hands of masked, horrid men, proclaiming god’s will. He sees a Godless people, forcing the Godly to prove their right, prove their faith, and fight for their freedom. It disturbs his spirit and makes him angry.
My son, is truly the son of his mother.
In my youth, when I could not justify for my personal, selfish reasons, the feelings of my elders ….. Now I pray ….. NOW, as they did. “Jesus, come quickly!” I beg forgiveness for my selfish and worldly desires to see my children reach maturity. To not have one more day I worry about my heartsick loved ones, to not have one more feeling of insufficiency, to know that not one more Christian, one more person, is taken, or sacrificed for their belief in MY JESUS ……. To BE with God, converse with Noah, and walk with Jesus …… Now THAT my friends, is living!
And so, many years later, I realize ….. at four years old, Jesus held me close to his breast, cared for me, protected me. For that was when, “I first saw the light. And the BURDENS of my heart rolled away.” Burdens I didn’t even know I carried.
It was there by faith, I received my sight.
~ Sandra K. Yates