Each week, I have been sharing a little bit of my testimony. If you missed the first installments, be sure to read them HERE.
It was a spring day in April 2005. I was getting ready to go to work that evening when Jon’s parents drove up to our house. Not unusual for them to just stop by, but we weren’t expecting them either; what was odd to me was that Jon’s mom was carrying a box of tissues with her. What I didn’t know, was that my world was about to be flipped upside down by nothing I had ever experienced before.
Jody. Our Sweet Jody. One of Jon’s best friends from high school. He was the brother of my college roommate’s boyfriend who had introduced us. He was gone. Taken. Jody had passed away in his sleep the night before at the young age of 29. It was unexpected. It was shocking and it rocked our family community. It was something I had never experienced before. I had lost people I loved before; grandparents, family friends, etc, but it was all when I was younger, too young to know what true loss really was. Jody and I had our own unique relationship; one that an outsider would see as hostile; to us, it was how our relationship worked. We joked, we teased, we made sarcastic comments to each other. We were very close friends and his loss was very great in my life.
Through all the preparations and the funeral, I never allowed myself to grieve. I held it all together to be the strong one for everyone else. My husband had lost someone close to him; as the boys put it, he had lost his brother from another mother. For once, he needed me to be strong for him. Because of that, I did not allow myself to grieve. In the end, I was very angry, hurt and confused. Why was someone so good taken so young? Why wasn’t he allowed to live out his full potential of life? How could someone so full of life just be gone in a second?
I needed answers.
Shortly after that, our daughter, Dakota Ray was born. She was given the middle name Ray in honor of Jody; his middle name had been Ray.
Fast forward a little bit more. We were starting to meet other families who had kids the same age as our own children. I noticed that many of the families around us were attending church; either just starting out or they had been believers their whole lives. God began planting the seed.
I started thinking about the house I had grown up in. I did not want my children to experience anything even close to how I had lived as a child. What was missing? What component needed to be added or changed? How was I going to do it all differently?
Thankfully, God intervened.
Friends of ours invited us to their church; a church that they had only just been attending for a few months themselves. Jon was hesitant. He came from the thought that if he believed in God, why did he need to go to church to prove that? So, I went by myself. It was a little bit lonely; it was something I had hoped we could do as a family. But God knew that it was something I needed to do alone. I needed to own it. I needed to experience Jesus on my own.
I started taking the kids with me. Jon didn’t mind at all. In fact, he encouraged it. Then the kids started asking why daddy wasn’t going with us. I let him answer that question and just kept praying. It only took a few months and Jon gradually started joining us every Sunday.
At this point, I was going to church and learning about my Heavenly Father, but I was still missing something. I went in to talk to our Pastor about something else completely different and he asked me if I had accepted Jesus into my heart.
I had no clue what he was talking about.
So with Pastor George’s help, I accepted Christ into my heart that day in March 2007. A little over a year later, I was baptized on the 3rd anniversary of Jody’s death.
I finally had my answer. Jesus. He was my answer to everything.