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“That Changes Everything,” a testimony

This is a brief account of how six long years of tragedy came to an end in one evening. Vickie recounts the developments which led up to that evening and how her life was changed dramatically. That evening was the 22nd of June,1990.

By the beginning of 1990 I was desperate to find a way out of my mess of a life. I had been “blessed” with society’s best wisdom and psychiatric techniques, but ending my life still seemed the best solution. I had been painted as a “mental invalid,” with no cure in sight. I had been told for years: “We’ll pray for you,” but that simply convinced me all the more that I was the problem, and that everybody knew it. I was tired of being the problem. I was tired of causing hurt and turmoil in the lives of those around me.

To end my life seemed the merciful thing to do, both for me and for those around me. While mustering up the courage to carry this through, I was also smothering myself in addictions and bizarre compulsions (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, forced sleep deprivation, anorexia, bulimia, diet pills, aspirin, obsessive tv, compulsive wandering, self hate, perfectionism, excessive exertion in sports, etc.). The question remained which one I would fall victim to first, my own hand, the complications of my extreme bodily abuse, or a violent death at the wheel, possibly to involve other innocent lives as well.

I had prayed many prayers up to this moment. I had recognized the Lord Jesus’ death for my sins, and had given him my heart and life. But I had seemingly in vain sought forgiveness and release from the wretch of a person I had become. Later I realized I had been asking forgiveness for many things I was not even guilty of.

I was a disappointment both to myself and to everyone I knew. There was no relief in sight. It seemed to be everybody’s conclusion that wickedness was bound up in my heart, yet that didn’t ring true because actually in my heart I longed to be free. I longed for someone who could help me sort it all out, and get to the bottom of what was going on. This is the prayer I prayed on the 11th of January, 1990:

“Look at this soul, still searching for salvation… (lyrics).” I painfully long for someone to “come to my rescue,” to come here, (down home on the farm) to see me and express concern and offer me help. At the same time, I tend to send out signals for people to leave me alone … I’m afraid I would turn them away and send them off with a smile, assuring them that all is well with me. Nevertheless, I have hoped many nights in the recent past, that someone, someone I can trust and be honest with, would come to me. I have considered going to see someone, but somehow the impact, I fear, would not be the same. Oh, to be loved and to be able to love … anger and rage tend to display themselves when I try to feel or accept love.

A few months prior I had met in passing a gentleman, named Gary, who was involved in evangelistic outreaches and in helping unwanted children and their mothers in the Niles (MI) and South Bend (IN) area. He met my parents and came out to the farm to visit on occasion. Gary and I started getting acquainted sometime late in January of 1990. He had faced a major turning point in his life and was due shortly to return with a friend to Europe, where he had worked in evangelistic outreaches years prior. He and his friend were planning to leave as soon as the friend finished some studies, at the end of the school year.

Meanwhile, Gary spent the late winter months with friends in Cassopolis (MI). Occasionally he would drop in, and we would talk. He wasn’t struggling from any of the “bad” things I was, yet he referred to himself also as “wretched” in God’s eyes, “apart from Jesus”.

Oddly enough, Gary and I never seemed to focus on the assumed “fact” of how my life was such a mess. We spent most of our time talking about Jesus, and how Jesus wants to be the center of our lives. I was searching for answers. I was full of fear and confused. Gary was very patient amidst my horrible struggle in maintaining and expressing my thoughts. Often my mind would simply blank out on me mid-sentence.

Mysteriously enough, the more we talked about Jesus, the more hopeful I became. We never talked about stopping drinking, or stopping smoking, or stopping using drugs, or stopping anything. We talked about Jesus, and my life began to reflect a change.

I had for years wanted Jesus to be my life’s focus. Well-meaning individuals kept telling me that for that to happen I first had to stop this, stop that, stop being driven by addictions and compulsions, stop hating myself, stop being confused, stop being suicidal, and start living right, start reading my Bible with proper interest, start praying properly, start attending church properly, start spending time with the right and proper people, etc. But after finding myself UNABLE to conform to the expectations and helpful insights of “good people” I finally let my desires center around Jesus.

I began CONCERNING MYSELF WITH HOW JESUS FELT ABOUT ME and what he wanted my life to be like. That made an enormous difference. My “PROBLEMS” WERE NO LONGER THE CENTER OF MY LIFE. Though my struggles appeared outwardly the same, inwardly there was a big change taking place. Even the critical remarks about my addictions didn’t cut me so badly, because I was finding strength and comfort, from the inside out.

Gary and I kept talking about Jesus. Meanwhile I decided to go along with him and other friends out of town on a weekend outreach. The longing to go along was very strong, but the implications were almost more than I could face. I had not been away from alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, drugs, etc. for quite some time. I knew the whole weekend would be a nightmare. I feared the inevitable withdrawals. I wanted to go along and I also wanted to stay home. Deep in my heart I felt it was best for me to go, so, at the last moment I said “yes” and went along.

The intense war of withdrawals began raging almost immediately. I felt like a fish out of water. I felt like everybody was staring at me. I felt like getting out and going back home, but I didn’t. Somehow, in the final analysis, I knew I was doing the best thing and I desperately wanted to stick it out. The whole weekend we talked about Jesus and about saying “Yes” and “Ok” to him. We talked about acknowledging to him our weakness and inability, allowing ourselves to depend TOTALLY ON HIM for strength.

That weekend was a wonderful break in the action, but the war wasn’t over yet. Gary and I began to sort through some of my writings, my journal, and personal notes including some I had written during a lengthy stay in the psychiatric ward several years earlier. Here is an excerpt from one of my journal entries:

Thoughts race to and fro, yet no significant meaning is found … no answers to the questions which are ever-present. I struggle through day by day. The loneliness overwhelms me. There are so many barriers to overcome. The battle rages on inside of me.

We also talked at length about a couple of very traumatic run-ins six years earlier that I had suffered from a couple of men whom I should have been able to trust. But, when you’re taken advantage of in the presence of family members, where you would expect to be protected, the hurt is intensified.

As a matter of fact, the hurt from these run-ins was so intense that I lost my ability to deal with it properly. I had never been in such situations, so instead of placing blame where blame was due, I accepted the assumption that I was the guilty party. Plus, it was more comfortable to take the blame upon myself, and to offer “forgiveness” to the “gentlemen.” This gave rise to an enormous devastating force in my life that sent me into a six-year-long uncontrollable tailspin.

The night this became clear to me was the 22nd of June, 1990. All of this made overwhelming sense to me, but I found myself totally incapable of leveling the blame where it belonged. I realized that the guilt that had worked destructive havoc in my life for six years would be placed where it belonged and that it could have a destructive impact on their lives like it had had on mine. I didn’t want anyone to feel the hurt I had felt for so many years. This made such good sense, and especially after reconstructing the events of the run-ins, the elements of my guilt were not there. I was shocked. “That changes everything!” I said. And it did.

Earlier that same morning I had set myself on another collision course with death. It seems almost uncanny how a tension kept building, as though to keep me away from coming fully to an understanding of what was really going on in my life. I had spent the whole day drinking some of the deadliest alcohol available. I also came real close to spending the evening alone, without the friend I had found who would talk with me for hours on end about Jesus – he had been invited to a birthday party (which he normally wouldn’t miss for the world) but it had been made clear that I wasn’t invited. So he decided to spend the evening with me, and at the end of another lengthy talk about Jesus I handed over a sack full of empty alcohol bottles and my homemade smoking devices for marijuana. An enormous change had taken place. From this point my addictions and compulsions quickly diminished and soon I was totally free.

Gary mentioned to me later that something had happened two days earlier, on June 20th, which caused him to suspect that the Lord had brought us together for more of a purpose than just to talk about Jesus and to go our separate ways. That rang true in both of our hearts. On the 25th of July, 1990, we got engaged, and on the 17th of August we were joined in Holy Matrimony.

All in all I’m grateful to the Lord for the hard six years that I endured. I lost most everything a young lady aspires toward during that time in her life. I lost my reputation as though I was a “mental invalid.” I lost my aspirations in college, I lost the privilege of bringing honor to my family, and I lost my ability to progress toward meaningful pursuits in life. The gentleman I married had also endured similar losses, but under different circumstances. Now the Lord has blessed us both with much strength, much comfort, and much similarity in life’s experiences. This story is even hard for me to believe.

Now my husband and I are following Jesus together and bringing to others this Good News of his forgiveness and transforming power for our lives. The times we live in are not easy for us or for any of Jesus’ followers. As we stated in our wedding vows:

…even though we should face tough times of physical separation and trials of the faith … Jesus has led the way before us on love’s path. He will lead us and strengthen us. It is to him we want to say “Yes!” and “OK!”

Since just two years ago at this time the Lord has helped us to take our spot in the struggle for Godfear. We live in a society of Godlessness, anti-God hostility, and widespread complacency. Gary and I have already faced tough times of physical separation and trials of the faith, but the Lord has continued to strengthen and bless us. We now have a 6-month-old little baby boy to add to our blessings! [We now have 5 children! See: Our Children ]

Jesus poured out his life for love of us, now we want to live for him and to give ourselves to his interests here on earth. July 1992 #

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