Interestingly, I began this blog in 2013 and over this time I have written posts which give an insight to my story, yet I don't think I've ever provided a full testimony. Well, this post is my testimony from when I was a young girl up to today. Of course it doesn't provide every detail, as that would make a book too big to write! For those 'other stories' you'll just have to read the other posts...But here it is thanks to God!
As promised I said I’d write down some things about my life to help you get to know me a little better. So here goes.
I first met Jesus as a young girl around the age of 8 through His people in a small country town here in Victoria called, Merino. Although I did not understand everything about the Christian faith maturely, I knew I wanted to commit my life to Jesus and asked to be baptised. I loved everything about church; the people, services, Sunday school, hymns and fellowship.
We only attended church for a short time (probably 2 years) and my dad moved us to Melbourne. It was then my parent’s marriage came to an end. We had already stopped going to church since moving to Melbourne, and after my dad left we didn’t return. My weekends became dedicated to the performing arts. I was a talented dancer and soon was teaching classes, I also sang and acted a little. My teenage stage of life was very common, being that during my transition into autonomous adulthood I rebelled and chose myself over God. I often fought with my mother who had also disconnected from God, and I left home during year 12. I was lost and this came through in the poor life choices I made. I didn’t pursue university even though I was talented enough. I chose to settle for a life that was much easier; teaching dance and settling for the first guy who was willing to commit.
Fast forward a decade, and I was 28 with 3 young boys. My youngest had been born in April and I had three children under the age of 3 at the time. I presented as a ‘model citizen’. A married woman, with 3 children, a home in a lovely small town, and my own performing arts school. What people didn’t know was I suffered terribly with anxiety, and had done so from around the age of 21. Furthermore my marriage was anything but healthy.
During the day I kept things under wrap, however during the night I would awake from sleep in panic. It wasn’t every night but it was often enough. I didn’t tell anyone, I thought they would think I was crazy. I knew things weren’t right between Jesus and me. I was scared Jesus would come back and I wouldn’t be saved, and I was afraid of losing my marriage. I’d awake thinking I was separated from Jesus, and I’d see shadows on my bedroom wall and felt almost frozen. Yet I’d call out to Jesus to help me, and He did every time! But stubbornly I still refused to give my life to Him…
My third son had been born in the April of 2005 and I was living a life where I was ruled by fear. My marriage was in a cycle where we’d have a big fight about once a month, and I still suffered silently with anxiety. I remember my birthday that June and the awful time I was having in my marriage. I think it was the next month in July we spent a night in Moama at the Maddison Spa resort, as we’d had our house painted and it smelt awful. In the room was a Bible placed there by The Gideons. If you had of asked me at that time what led me to open it, I would have said I had no idea. This was because I wanted nothing to do with Christianity! This is not an exaggeration. Christian people, even Christmas carols, were too challenging for me to even be around, or listen to…Let alone open a bible to read!
Yet thanks to God’s amazing mercy and power I was led to open it. I opened to a passage of Old Testament scripture I have never found again…or perhaps never read the same again. You see, I read a section of ancient scripture in which God was speaking to a country about their desperate state, but as I read it, I knew it described me perfectly…The me I tried to hide from everyone else…The me nobody but God alone could describe.
I was convicted there and then of my rebellion and knew I had an eternal choice to make. I knew my life had come to this point in time, where I was standing at a precipice. I was either going to choose myself and be separated from God forever, or I was going to call upon His grace, to receive forgiveness and reconciliation by surrendering all of myself once and for all.
With my cheeks burning, I went into the bathroom and knelt down in the corner of the room, upon the tiled shower recess floor and repented…I called out to Jesus as I had done many times before, but this time counting the cost of what it truly meant to receive salvation…Offering myself back in love, to The One who is love Himself, which is nothing in comparison to His gift of life and peace.
Shortly after that night I went to a shop and bought my own bible and began going to church. My whole life changed. I gave up teaching performing arts as my eyes were opened to how sin had infiltrated my own life in so many ways, and the lives of others. So many good gifts from God are ruined by sin and dance when it becomes secular is no exception. I knew however that nothing would be wasted, and that I must use the past decade of experience and skill of working with young people now for God’s glory and Kingdom.
The next year with hardly any scriptural knowledge yet a desire to be obedient, I began volunteering delivering Christian Religious Education in state schools. The following year in 2007 I had enrolled in a theological degree with Ridley College in Melbourne. I also volunteered in many church activities for example; Sunday school, a local Christian Kids’ Club, youth group, worship leading, running a choir along with other things. I had a great time but ultimately I my heart yearned for others to experience the freedom and love that I had through Jesus. During these years my mother even recommitted her life to Jesus. I remember often just being amazed, thinking that nothing was impossible for God; for if He could reach my cold heart, and raise up a simple, dance teacher to serve Him, what couldn’t He do?!
My two biggest fears were, Jesus coming back and not being saved and my marriage ending. Jesus took both of these fears and dealt with them.
After repenting and committing to Jesus I don’t think I've ever woken up during the night in panic again. I still battled with anxiety, and sometimes I still do, but it’s not been the same. The second fear, Jesus dealt with so lovingly and gently, after I’d been a committed Christian for around seven years. I became single. I lost my marriage and it pretty much happened over night. At the time I knew things weren’t good, they hadn’t been very good for around 2 years, but I still didn’t see it coming. You see, after I had been saved we began having a much healthier marriage as I no longer desired to fight. Our marriage was the best it had ever been and this lasted around 5 years. Things between us however began to decline when one day I confessed to him sins I committed before we married, when I was around 19-21years old. We worked through it, but I also know it was challenging for my ex as he knew I had really changed and he hadn't. He became very unsupportive and hard towards me. The crunch came near the end of 2011. I remember we lived in Echuca, and I saw my ex harden his heart to a video gospel message one day; it wasn’t much longer after that, that he left. I found out around 7 months later he had been with someone else for quite some time while still being with me. I was absolutely gutted.
Yet Jesus was with me through the pain and tears. I felt Him so close. It was a really challenging time, but He took me on a journey of regaining confidence and learning whom He had made me to be as His daughter. I knew I couldn’t control my ex, but for the first time in my life as a single person, committed to Christ, I knew I could make my own healthy choices. I was determined to do things differently, compared to when I was a young adult. Plus I had a reservoir of amazing second chances He’d already given me over the previous seven years to focus upon.
I didn’t get angry at God. I gave Him my tears. I loved my children to the best of my ability. I picked my study back up at the beginning of 2013 that I had taken a break from. I took up art, began blogging, and later the guitar and Christian songwriting. During this time I had a number of close people in my life pass away. It was tough and lonely at times, but The Lord was faithful through it all. I had His love and the support of my family and church. I was also incredibly blessed to have witnessed my youngest brother also commit his life to Christ.
At the end of 2015 when finishing my degree, I knew The Lord was asking me to 'let go' and trust Him for the future He had planned for me. It was challenging as a single mother, but I took a step of faith and gained employment for a church in Adelaide. I worked there for a year in a dual position of Children’s/Family Pastor and school chaplain. Then The Lord opened a door for the boys and I to return back to Victoria. Around seven months ago I began working in 3 state schools for Access Ministries as a full-time school chaplain. I wasn’t long back in Victoria when I met Richard.
I had reached a place of wondering if I’d ever find a suitable, godly man, who would love and embrace me for all who I am, and all whom I’m called and made to be in Christ. A mature, Christian man whom my boys and I would be a great fit with. I knew what I wanted and needed, but I also knew it was a specific and long order! When I first saw Richard I needed God to speak to me about him, as due to being hurt I projected stuff onto Richard, and I didn’t even know him! That being said, I’m glad it happened this way, as I had God’s peace going forward with Richard, and The Lord kept providing us both with confirmation after confirmation.
I know I do not deserve the blessings my Heavenly Father has continually poured out on me and my boys. I am certainly not perfect. I am a work in progress. Sanctification is a journey that God takes us on, as we continue in our relationship with Him through Jesus. Once I was afraid but that was a delusion from the enemy. I have found love and peace and His Name is Jesus. Living my life with Jesus is one where He lovingly matures me through His love and grace – fear is replaced with peace through forgiveness and reconciliation.
I believe that every good and perfect gift comes down from God, and this marriage I am now entering into is such a gift. To experience being loved by a man, as Christ loves His Church. To feel so cherished and secure is such an amazing experience. To feel God’s peace and not worry is balm for my heart…
I simply want my whole life to forever sing His praise, for He is so Good.
I hope reading my story helps you get to know me a little better. Without Jesus I have no story and this is why I live the way I do. I simply want my whole life to forever sing His praise, for He is so Good.
This is my story so far and I am looking forward to the good plan God has for me, Richard, and the boys.
(If you're reading this and were like I once was - you believe in Jesus but are living a self-directed, rebellious life. I encourage you to repent as I did that night in the hotel room. Pray and ask Him to forgive you, and commit to following Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. You too will begin a new life where you have peace with God and a heart no longer missing its foundational core. There is nothing that comes close in life to this. Love Melanie.)