I am around 27 years old and am one of 3 children, as I have 2 sisters. My dad was in the Navy and my mother was a CNA. I come from a very dysfunctional, very broken and very oppressive family. Some of my earliest memories are of my father beating my mother. Very early in my childhood my father also began abusing myself and my 2 sisters. We were also met with neglect; we hardly saw a doctor or a dentist. On at least 2 occasions my teachers at school had notified my parents of my need for urgent and immediate medical attention and told my parents they had strongly considered reporting them to social services. When I heard my parents discussing this, I remember asking Yahuah to have them reported but they were not. My parents were professed Catholics and we went to Mass maybe 5 times. I felt no genuine connection to Yah during those times; I felt a curiosity which quickly faded after having appealed to Him numerous times only to be met with silence. I remember wailing uncontrollably into my pillows so no one would hear, sometimes even pulling my hair and scratching my face as a result of my deep frustration and anguish and sense of hopelessness.
These cries and pleas and wails all carried the same question – why Yah? Why were these things happening? During this time my parents got divorced and re-married (to each other). My mother was gone for over a year and this proved devastating. All I knew was instability and apprehension; even the good times were stained with fears and doubts. The abuse and neglect my sisters and I endured wore on our appearance much like dirty clothing did – for all to see and laugh at. As a result, I was utterly rejected and continually sneered at by my peers for the larger part of my childhood. My little self felt as if everywhere I turned I was confronted with disapproval and insults, my sisters marked the only 2 constants in my life. Somewhere in the midst of all these experiences, I had emotionally rejected the idea of a relational Yah. I was convinced that if He did exist, He was passive and cared nothing for His children.
Finally many years later, through an uncanny series of events the authorities were notified of what was happening. Finally I had a voice. My dad was arrested and dishonorably discharged from the Navy after almost 20 years of service while my mom was deemed unfit to gain sole custody and we were thrust into the custody of the State. Though I wouldn’t realize it for at least a decade, this heralded the beginning of Yah’s rescue plan for my life. My sisters and I lived in a child care facility for over a year; it was here that Yah showed me that there were others - many others who had it worse than I did. Had I continued to believe there were no others like me, had Yah not granted me this perspective then the ghosts of my past would’ve surely chased me to a pit of depression and loneliness.
Despite the reprieve given to me, I felt no inclination toward Yah. I felt it was the ways and systems of the world which saved me from my parents. The 3 of us were eventually ushered back into the custody of our mother and we all moved to Montana. What ensued was another 6 years of distress, instability and isolation. We were poverty stricken; the 4 of us shared a 2 bedroom trailer. My mother was addicted to prescription pills; chain smoked 2 cigarette packs a day in the house, trailed various boyfriends in and out, and was always in and out of work. Food boxes and stamps were the source of our meals. Despite all this, my hope burned bright and my fortitude took root. I was not defeated. It was during my high school years that I began to experience what I would later refer to as “the calling”. Interestingly, I referred to this feeling as “the calling” well before I came to Yahshua. I felt some large, invisible and all-encompassing thing beckoning. For a while I thought of this vast unnamable thing simply as the universe or fate. Vast and unnamable it may have appeared, but close, palpable, and powerful it felt. I held a deep desire to explore this unseen presence or design or power or whatever it was which continued to pull on my heartstrings.
As “the calling” continued to declare itself, I began to identify it as more of a personality and this personality felt familiar; strikingly familiar. It was as if this presence and I were woven of the same cloth. Little did I know the King of the universe Himself was calling me into His set apart family. Despite these altogether supernatural curiosities and feelings – I continued to reject the idea of Elohim. I had for the first time in my life, a very close group of dear friends. These people are to this day some of the brightest, happiest, and most altruistic people I have ever known. They were all atheist or agnostic. My first introduction to religion was through the madness of my parents and my first introduction to atheism was through the kind words and loving acceptance of my dearest friends. During this time, I intellectually rejected the idea of a relational Creator.
I graduated and left for college. I moved to Missoula, a city 300 miles away. Not too far from home, but far enough. Life went on as the calling persisted. I in no way was flourishing or making progress or healing from all that had occurred over the previous 18 years. I was stumbling through the wilderness while my older sister Cheryl was still living at home with our mother in Bozeman. Our younger sister Annie, who was 15, was visiting a friend of hers in Minnesota. Then tragedy struck. Cheryl called to inform me that our mother pawned all of our belongings including our car and moved to Florida to be with our father who had just been released from prison. One word came to mind – Annie. What about our 15 year old baby sister? I was crushed and I felt abandoned all over again. What about Annie? I couldn’t let her fall into the hands of the State all over again, meanwhile shortly thereafter she had returned to Bozeman from her trip to Minnesota. She came on a Greyhound, arrived late at night, with 2 trash bags of belongings and no one there to pick her up. She called me in the dorms crying that no one was there so I was heartbroken. Quickly I decided to move back home to be there for my 2 sisters, the only remaining family I had left. Our mother called me once before I left the dorms to tell me that she didn’t think she’d done anything wrong.
The next 5 years provided me with another season of tremendous hardship. Cheryl became a stripper out of desperation and Annie was all but lost to us. She suffered from grief/depression and coped by abusing drugs, got into trouble with the law and began to disappear for long periods of time. All through the many sorrows and all through the joys I never once had a parent to call. I tried to be the life raft which kept my little family afloat, but at times this was impossible. There was one crisis after another and I entered into an unhealthy and destructive romantic relationship which lasted for 4 ½ years. I began smoking cannabis daily and became addicted to cigarettes, my drinking also increased considerably. Thankfully I never abused hard drugs. I tried to navigate through the hazy fog of drugs and failed time and time again. I was lost, broken, confused and scared. I felt incapable of change, I felt fundamentally flawed. During this time I had many medical issues, there were a number of dental emergencies. I also temporarily lost my vision due to a condition I developed called bilateral uveitis, thanks are to the Father for restoring my sight. I didn’t know how to get out of this pit and out of desperation I began my search. In the beginning it was my search for truth. As my search progressed, like a trumpet sounding, it was made clear to me that this pure truth which I so dearly sought after, was no less than Yah Himself. Thus began my search when a monumental thing happened - I moved to Portland.
I began to read everything I could get my hands on regarding Yah, I began to be fascinated with the eastern mystic religions. Books like The Siddhartha, The Hindu Vedas, The Baghavad Gita and The Kabbalah captivated me. Slowly I began reading more contemporary books such as “The Celestine Prophecy”, “Ishmael”, “A Course in Miracles” and others. I became fixated on New Ageism and this was perhaps the most dangerous part of my search. These books are so very dangerous because they blend truth with falsehoods and offer it up as one seamless truth. There could be no more a spiritual slippery slope than that of New Ageism. It’s self-exalting and self-directing, the author of every book I read claimed to have received special revelation from a messenger of Yah or from Yah Himself. Every single one of these books contradicted each other and this begged the question, “If indeed Yah did send messengers, why would He send them with conflicting messages?” Clearly, either they were all frauds or it was the work of something more sinister. I concluded that at least some of the authors really did believe they had a genuine spiritual experience and although this didn’t lead me to truth directly, it did affirm my belief in a supernatural world and in supernatural activity. I assumed that if there was deliberate deception occurring in the spirit world, so too must there be goodness in the spirit world.
In retrospect, I see that these books chronicled various types of demonic activity. What’s interesting to note is not that every one of the books I read contradicted one another on many levels but all of them had one theme in common – they aimed to dethrone the scriptural Lamb. This caught my attention because clearly these messengers were false messengers and clearly they had a common agenda. What did they have against the Redeemer? As I continued to read these accounts, I became more confused. I had no fruit to bear for all my searching, I was deadlocked. None of it made sense yet I knew Yah was there, I could feel Him as I prayed all the time. I Prayed He would reveal Himself to me in truth as I lived with my sister when I first moved here. She was always on the go when I had no job for almost 2 months. I had no friends but what I did have was time and a computer, those were my only 2 resources. One night out of sheer loneliness, I ventured into a spiritualism based chat room. I met many nice people there and chatted about Yah so that it helped curb my need for social interaction. There I met the acquaintance of one of the most influential people I would ever meet. He was an older believer and quickly became a mentor of sorts. He astounded me with his knowledge! This man had amassed a great deal of knowledge in science, history, and scripture.
We talked about current events, art, Yah and history. I thought this man is truly gifted as he began to share with me details of meditation. Naturally I began asking questions about his belief in the Yah of The Scriptures. What struck me about his answers besides the fact that he was so astute, was how matter of fact he was. He was unapologetic when he told me 3 things. If I was to find truth it had to be a result of my own seeking and desire to know truth. 2nd he told me Yah had given me the ability to discern pure truth through the Ruach Hakodesh and 3rd any adopted truth must be consistent with scripture. Indeed, all truths to be adopted are found solely in scripture. What happened next is very difficult to conceptualize. Shortly after meeting Robby, it dawned on me – I’m spending all this time reading about various interpretations of truth yet I won’t even as much glimpse at The Scriptures. Why not? Why not at least research them to find out if they can stand the test of time, if essential doctrine makes sense philosophically and intellectually? Why not research these things before I write off faith altogether? And so it began, I slowly pulled back the curtain of my misconceptions and began to peer into the light. Suddenly pieces were falling into place, questions were being answered and questions I hadn’t even thought to ask arose.
My dear friend Robby continued to witness patiently and diligently as I began renting videos. I was in and out of bookstores eager to read the next one addressing these sacred mysteries. I realized The Scriptures are historically accurate, indeed why would it lend itself to historical scrutiny were it not? In fact among other ancient documents, it remains quite unparalleled. It was a beautiful discovery and I felt like a proverbial archeologist who couldn’t quit digging. I was hungry for Yahshua and I was thrilled at the mention of His name, overjoyed at His finding. I kept digging when I realized quickly that the more I felt myself starting to believe in The Word, the more I was rejecting everything I had previously adopted as true. I started to second guess myself. What was I getting myself into? I thought I was losing all semblance of everything I thought to be true. Then Yah showed me the following quote in the midst of my doubt: "If 1000 old beliefs are ruined in our march to truth, we must still march on." I continued to march on and was almost there. I felt myself inching closer to faith as I began praying in the name of Yahshua. I appealed to Yah to answer my prayers, to continue to reveal His truth to me and to with a clear and unmistakable finality engrave the name of Yahshua the Messiah on my heart if indeed everything that scripture said was true.
I prayed for the gift of faith and I felt so close. Then it happened, late one night. I was crying because I was overwhelmed in doubt, confused again. I knew once I believed, Yahshua would become life itself and this presented a huge risk. I had been deeply betrayed all my life; trust was a huge step for me. All this talk of promises, of redemption, and restoration, and forgiveness seemed too good to be true. The mere depth of His love and sacrifice seemed otherworldly and implausible. His second coming, the new heavens and the new earth left me flabbergasted. The magnificence and glory of Yahshua was so far-reaching it couldn’t be true; I was too scared to believe. I didn’t want to find out I was wrong, I began to sob and ask Yah to confirm Yahshua in my life if He was indeed our Savior. I could no longer stand the confusion and not knowing, and then Yah showed me the verse that would change my life forever. I opened up my Scriptures and asked Yah to speak to me. He showed me the following verse: 2 Corinthians 11:3. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled the woman through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in the Messiah.”
I knew that instant, I had been deceived all my life. In that moment, He revealed that everything prior to Yahshua had been deception and that only in Him would I know truth and life. I remember saying, “Yahshua my Messiah, count me as a believer, You have won me.” After that utterance, I felt my heartbeat for Yahshua for the first time. My life has been completely transformed, through and in Yahshua the Messiah I have conquered all former addictions minus smoking. I have completed school and returned home to a beautiful niece, I have found an incredible online community through the people that Yahshua brought me to. I am rescued, I am redeemed, I am thankful. Praise Yahshua, every moment in darkness was more than worth if in the end I am delivered into His arms. My life can be encapsulated in two words - glorify Yah. Amen.