So today I thought I would talk a little bit about how I became a Christian.
My parents weren’t particularly religious. We went to church maybe four or five times a year, but unlike most people, it was never on a holiday, it more a case of when the urge struck them.
Both of my grandmothers however, were very spiritual. My Nani (my dad’s mother) belonged to the United Church and was a big follower of the 700 Club and Jimmy Swaggart. She was just a very kind and sweet person. When she was driving and would get a green light she would always say “Thank you, Jesus”. She always got a parking spot at the front of the store and she always said “Thank you, Jesus”. Her faith and the love that she shared with the world had a very profound impact on me, and it was my Nani who bought me my first bible (which I still use today). I think my Nani gave me an amazing example of what faith in God and Jesus could be. But it was my Grandmother (my mom’s mother) who gave me the church that would meet that need.
Some of my fondest memories of staying at my Grandmother’s house were going to church. A British war-bride, she was a devoted Anglican. There was just something about the formality of the Anglican faith with it’s kneelers, and books, in which the entire service was written down in, that just spoke to me. My Grandmother was a part of the altar guide which meant that after church I would get to help clear the linens off the altar and wash and polish the silver chalices from which the communion had been served. It was like being part of a secret society and I loved helping her.
During my teen years I was a very faithful Christian, in that I read my bible and listened to Amy Grant. But I would also say, that I had a very shallow and innocent faith which I allowed to fade away over time. I wanted to be a part of the cool crowd and I felt that, in being a Christian, I was missing out. I was tired of being the good girl. I never lost my belief, but I definitely put it on a shelf to take down when it was more convenient.
But it wasn’t until I became a mother that I really experienced a true crisis of faith. My first-born, Hayden was born with significant physical and mental challenges and, over time, he became gradually more and more self-abusive. When he was 8 years old he gave himself a traumatic brain injury which required emergency surgery and a piece of his skull was removed for several days to allow the swelling to go down. To say that I was mad at God was an understatement. Hadn’t he already given me enough when he gave me a broken child that I poured my heart and soul into? I simply could not believe that a God who loved me could be so determined to break me.
It took months for me to realize that God did indeed have a plan for Hayden and for the rest of my family. At the time of Hayden’s head injury I had been married to my second husband, Dave for three-years and he was just starting a new job. We had a 15 month-old baby and a six-year old (Hayden’s brother from my previous marriage). To say Hayden was very labour intensive would be a serious understatement. Our local school board wasn’t willing or able to provide him the supports he needed, so we paid for assistance and I home-schooled him. He slept very intermittently – sometimes only two or three hours a night and despite all of our efforts to prevent it, his constant self-abuse was tearing us apart. All of our time and energy was split between him and the baby, and my beautiful, independent middle son was slipping through the cracks.
Hayden’s head injury changed all that. It opened up a avenue we didn’t even know was available to us, and ultimately resulted in him being cared for in a community home. After two years of struggles and doctors and assessments and treatment facilities who ultimately couldn’t do anything to modify Hayden’s drive to self-abuse, we moved Hayden into a house that was literally on our street. He had 24-hour, round the clock, one-on-one care from a group of individuals whom I can only describe as angels. And, more importantly, he was only a few blocks away.
Sometimes it really does take a community to raise a child. There were many people who judged me for moving Hayden into that house, even though he comes home for visits every weekend and I drive him to school every morning. Those people never yelled at my other two children because they were so exhausted from being up every night trying to stop a child from hitting himself. I have an amazing relationship with all of my children now and I absolutely give God credit for saving all of us before we even knew we needed saving. Anyone who has lived with a child who has special needs doesn’t need me to tell them how incredibly difficult it is on the family. I also give God a huge thank you for bringing my husband Dave into our lives. I don’t know many people who would have dated a single mother with two children, let alone one with a child as challenging as Hayden was.
I absolutely believe in my heart that through all of my struggles and trials, through all of my tears and heart-break, that God has been pulling me ever closer, preparing me for the next role he needs me to fill in my life. And everyday I pray that I keep my heart and mind focused on him, who has given me so much and who cares so deeply and, that always, “his will be done”. He knows me so much better than I know myself.
God Bless Everyone
This song from Mercy Me makes me cry – especially the part about when God chooses to leave mountains unmovable.