Birthday Reflections p4 – Set Free

This birthday week/Easter weekend has been a lot to reflect on and process, it has also been a year since we received the news about our babies’ congenital heart defect. So, yeah, it’s been a lot but I really do want to continue with the birthday reflections series and get to the next season of my life – my 30’s.

As I entered my 30’s in the broken state I described in my last blog (birthday reflections part 3), I knew I had to start going to church because that’s the only place I thought I knew God was. But church didn’t really fit into my lifestyle, Sunday morning was not ideal when you wanted to go out on Saturday night, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I remember a lady I worked with mentioning that she went to a church which was literally round the corner from my house, so I texted her to find out the service start time and rocked up their one Sunday morning.

For about 6 months I attended every Sunday. I sat in one of the pews of a Church of England church with people that were nothing like the people I knew. What would they think of me? I also knew the reason I had come to church – to get forgiveness for having two abortions. How on earth could I tell any of them that? I remember sitting in tears many Sundays as I wrestled with this issue. I thought I knew what they would think, that it was a sin, that I had done a terrible thing. That’s what the bible said didn’t it?

I was also struggling with how I fitted in. I used to look around church and think how can I be a Christian, if this is what a Christian looks like? I liked different things, different music for example. I loved music, but most of the music I listened to had explicit content or sang about things which were not really Godly. Was I going to have to give all that up to listen to this music we sang on a Sunday morning in church? Was I going to have to change into a completely different person and forget everything that had been me for all these years? I really didn’t fit into this Christian shaped hole that I saw before me, so what was I to do?

Easter 2012, a Christian friend invited me to an event in Manchester. Here I met and chatted to a Christian rapper from Manchester. Speaking to him, he sounded like me, his accent, his language. He had been a drug dealer and was now sharing his faith on stages through rap music. He also sent me details of many other Christian artist’s that made music I liked. All of a sudden it made this real to me, like I could actually be a Christian and still be me. I no longer felt that I had to fit into this mould, but I could be the person God was creating me to be. I went home and prayed, and this was the start of my journey.

As a new Christian, I was so excited! I wanted to share what had happened to me any chance I got, and I got many. I became an evangelist (a person who seeks to convert others to the Christian faith, especially by public preaching). My life was changed, my desires changed, how I spent my time changed, my heart changed – and I wanted to tell everyone!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

I was a new creation! All my life I had tried to run away from things – changing jobs, moving to a different town, different relationships, seeking education and qualifications. But no matter where I went or what I did I was still me. And I couldn’t run away from myself, no one can. I knew it would take something much bigger and powerful to change me, it was not anything I could do by myself. It’s not something God expects us to do, He wants to help you be all he created you to be.

I began to understand God’s love and forgiveness, waking up each day looking forward to my life rather than dreading it. It really was like a whole new world just opened up before my eyes, and it’s continued to be like that. It wasn’t an overnight transformation but over the last 10 years I have been forgiven and I have been set free of so much! I have never regretted coming to faith, I just regret that it took me so long.

Although I knew God had forgiven me, it took me a good few years to forgive myself, I still felt guilty. I didn’t find it easy to share that part of my testimony for fear of people judging me, I was still ashamed of what I had done. About5 years later, I was at a conference for mums, and during a time of worship and prayer, I got a vision. It was my two little babies holding hands with God as they walked through a beautiful field. It felt so peaceful and comforting, like God was reassuring me that they were with Him; and as they walked away from me, I knew this was the final piece of my forgiveness.

Life has not been a breeze since I gave my life to Christ 10 years ago, but I would rather have gone through all of this with him than live anymore of my life without him! I have peace during times that previously I would have lost my head in, I have a strength that I have never known before, I turn to prayer during hard times instead of a glass of wine or a moment of pleasure. But I am still human, and life still gets hard.

When we had a miscarriage and lost Baby J, just before being pregnant with Azariah, I questioned if this was punishment for what I had done in the past. For years I have believed that God has forgiven me, but here I was dissecting all of that and feeling like I was being punished, and again when we found out Azariah had a congenital heart defect. I had a few wobbles, but each time I had to again “take those thoughts captive” because I know that God is good, and He was not punishing me. The bible tells us that God is not a liar (Numbers 23:19) and if he has forgiven me, he does not then take that away at a future point (Isaiah 43:25).

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19

As a Christian I am not exempt from trials and tribulations, but no matter what we may face, the Lord will deliver us from it. God is with us through it all. And that gives me the strength to face whatever may come.

I share this with you because some may think that if they come to God, a magic wand is waved, and everything changes instantly. Now there were some things that did change pretty much instantly for me, and the same for others but some things may be more of a journey that is walked over many years. And that’s ok. There is no one size fits all.

This last week – my birthday and the memory of what was taking place this time last year; has brought up a lot of stuff that I’ve had to take time to process. But my overriding feeling is that I am grateful. Grateful for my salvation, grateful for what Jesus did for me, grateful that I don’t wake up with that dread hanging over me, grateful that I have hope for now and for my future, grateful that we have God’s word written in the bible for us to delve into & guide us, grateful that I am able to share what God has done in my life, and grateful that this is available for everybody no matter who you are and no matter what you have done.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

God’s word tells us that he does not want anyone to perish and die without knowing him, and neither do I. That is why I share my story, that is why I make myself vulnerable – so God will be glorified, and I can boast about what He has done in my life!

Don’t ever be afraid of your story, your history, or your life journey. You never know who you might inspire!

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe sometimes really crappy stuff happens, sometimes because of decisions or life choices we make but it’s because there is sin and evil in the world. I see it that God puts us on a path, but then gives us the free will to make choices. These choices often take us away from what God had planned for us, but because of His grace, we can always come back. No matter how far we strayed from Him or His plan for our life, WE CAN ALWAYS COME BACK.

If you are reading this and you do not know him, then I encourage you to reach out to Him. If you want to know more, please drop me a message or visit this website which really breaks it down. If you are reading this and you are struggling with forgiveness or anything else I have spoken about, I pray that you are able to seek God and receive His love and forgiveness.

It took me longer than I would have liked before I turned to God, but life with hope, love, forgiveness, and peace can be found in Jesus, and I pray that you will find it now and know Him for the rest of your days.

Amber x

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