Hi guys, I haven't really posted much, but I read here every day. I thought I would post my testimony in hopes that I would start posting more here and that maybe someone has some insight into what God wants me to be doing right now because I surely do not know.
I grew up in a nominally Christian home who also believed some very extrabiblical teachings (Urantia Book followers if anyone is interested). My parents absolutely believed in Christ, his death and resurrection , but there was a whole lot more to their view of God, heaven, the universe, etc. They sent me to a Christian preschool and made sure I knew the basic bible stories even though they did not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but they didn't want me to stick out amongst my friends. Belief in their religion was in no way necessary for salvation, so they figured they would let me in on that more when I was older.
Anyway, I was a more spiritual child as far back as I can remember. I loved to pray and hear Bible stories. I loved chapel at preschool and craved going to church, however we only went maybe 10 times my entire childhood. At the age of 8, my older brother's best friend told me that I had to believe that Jesus died on the cross and accept him into my heart to be saved. I remember praying while in the bathtub every night for about a week (pretty much my only private place in a small house with four kids) that I wanted God to know that I accepted Jesus into my heart and wanted to be saved. Fearing that I wasn't doing this right, I went to my mom and told her and she prayed the sinner's prayer with me. Somewhere in there I found an old copy of my mom's KJV Bible and started reading that and devoured it. Once my mom discovered I was reading it, she found me an old NIV New Testament she had and that made reading the Bible a lot easier.
I continued along this path more or less by myself for a little while, but my life was turned upside down at age nine. My oldest brother began molesting me and my younger sister about this time. He was also a meth addict and things were crazy. He was literally plotting to stab me to death in my sleep at one point. I remember being so terrified of him and absolutely afraid so much of the time. In this time, I don't remember reading the Bible but my sister and I frequently prayed together at night. At some point in the next year or two my parents finally got a clue and realized that my brother was molesting us and was a drug addict, so he was removed from the home and sent off to rehab.
A short while after this, when I was about 12, my parents first introduced me to the Urantia Book. Its a several thousand page book that discusses the earth's history, the universes history, God, Jesus, Satan, other worlds, heaven, etc. It contains a lot of scientific discussions and explanations for the universe, pretty much based on 1920s-1930s science.
I dived right in and was engrossed in that until age 15, when I had my very first boyfriend. Initially he just asked me to go to church, and I told him I was a Christian, but left out all the Urantia Book stuff. I began to feel the tug of the Holy Spirit attending church, and I confessed to my boyfriend about the Urantia Book. He and the youth pastor did a lot of research to first, figure out what this was even about, and secondly to find out specifically what was wrong in it. They pointed out some of the scientific discussion which has since been proven otherwise. That was enough for me. A revelation from God better be perfect and it wasn't.
I was then in a spiritual no-man's land. I did not know what to believe. I was convinced that there was an almighty creator (I think I've just always known that looking back), but I had questions about just who He was and what was His purpose for the Earth. I was skeptical that "typical" Christianity had the truth. I had been conditioned to believe that the Bible was not inspired, but merely man's best effort, and was full of holes an inconsistencies. I looked into other religions, but none resonated with me at all. I read all sorts of books for skeptics and continued to go to church where the Holy spirit continued to tug on my heart. I really wanted to be sure that I wasn't leaving one false religion for another. Somewhere in there, I was convinced, and became an "official Christian." I still ponder whether I was saved at age 8 or even before as a preschooler.
Anyway, I grew tremendously in my faith in high school, and was on fire for the Lord. I witnessed to people and was active in our youth leadership. At one point I began to experience spiritual warfare demonic activity. This frightened me, but if I prayed, they went away. This occurred on and off throughout the rest of high school and into college.
I went to a Christian University my second semester in school and the demonic activity ceased then, but this was also one of the most single faith stifling times in my walk and it has taken a very long, long time to recover. The school was very legalistic, imo, and I always felt like I was being watched and people were just waiting for others to break "the rules." It was a terrible environment for me spiritually, and I left after a semester. Before going to college, I met had a new boyfriend and he went to. When we got back we were engaged for awhile, but again, I felt like he was too legalistic and didn't feel like I could be the person God created me to be in the relationship, so I broke off the engagement. Once I returned home, I started witnessing to Muslims through the internet. The spiritual warfare picked up heavily at this point. The demonic activity went from being unnerving but a nuisance to nearly unbearable. There were physical attacks and I was bombarded with 1001 ways/images of killing myself even though I had absolutely no desire to end my life. At one point, the suggestion was made that I were to stop witnessing all of this would all go away. I am so ashamed and aggrieved to admit that I took this deal. I stopped witnessing and I pulled back in my walk with God. Satan got what he wanted and I was no longer pestered.
At this point, I rebelled, and more or less told God I was going to be doing things my way for now. I'm not sure why, really, when I look back on it. Maybe I was just so ashamed that I could not face God and my guilt of giving in and not relying on Him to sustain me. I was certainly not living for Christ. In there I met my now DH who was technically a Christian but was unchurched and without fellowship pretty much his whole life, so we weren't seeking God in our lives. We got married, I graduated university, we had our first dd and decided we should go to church, but life got busy and we didn't. Then we had our second daughter, and I pretty much had walked away from my faith at this point. A short time after ydd was born, I began to feel God tugging at my heart again. I struggled for a long time with whether I even believed in any God at all. I waivered back and forth and considered myself an agnostic for a time. God used a few circumstances to get my attention and draw me back to Him. The one that stands out most to me is this: my ydd was an extremely colicky baby and screamed constantly. I pretty much had to hold her 24/7. One evening, after she had been crying for hours, and I was fruitlessly trying to calm her, I screamed in my mind, "IF THERE EVEN IS A GOD, HE WILL MAKE HER STOP CRYING!!!!" Instantly, as soon as that thought materialized in my mind, she stopped. She burrowed her head into my chest and slept. I think that was my breaking point right there. If she didn't stop crying, I think I would have written God off and stopped believing, and He obviously knew that.
Since then, it has been a slow journey rediscovering my faith. We struggled to find a church home (and still aren't even sure we will stay where we're at), but we have both grown. My DH got baptized after Thanksgiving (yay!).
And now here I am, back in my faith, but I still struggle with the guilt of what I did. I feel like I ignored and thumbed my nose at God's plan for my life, and now I have no idea what He wants me to be doing. I pray constantly for direction, but I have no answers.