If I had to describe myself as I was five years ago, I would use a knitting analogy. Back then, I resembled one giant, messy mass of yarn that didn’t even look like a ball anymore, just a shapeless pile of knots and frayed ends.
I was 33, a single mom struggling to pay the bills. My past was filled with abuse of all kinds. I’d turned to alcohol to numb my pain, but now I had nothing left in me but sadness.
I’d reached a point in my life where it seemed that I was in front of a giant wall that I could not go around or climb over, and the rest of the world was on the other side. I lacked the will to go on. While I’d had a rough life, I’d always worked hard, and I was fiercely and stubbornly independent, but I had no strength left. I was depressed to the point where I could no longer hide it, and I’d stopped trying to.
What happened next was truly a miracle.
One sad night, I went outside, crying as I had never cried before. Life seemed to be pressing in all around me, suffocating me. I looked up at the sky and asked God what He wanted from me. How did I even know to cry out to God? After all, I wasn’t religious. I had never been to church. Growing up, my family didn’t believe in any religion, and I had no concept of Jesus.
It was then that a shooting star flashed across my field of vision. I’d never seen one before, and somehow I felt God’s concern and care for me. I knew I wasn’t alone, and my tears turned to joy.
During this time, my eight-year-old son, Patrick, had been pestering me to go to church, of all places. How he got that notion, I didn’t know. I’d been putting him off, but he was so insistent.
One day soon after I saw the shooting star, he pointed to The Salvation Army’s Erin Mills Corps, which I’d never noticed before, even though the church was right across the street from our home in Mississauga, Ont.
“That church,” he stated firmly. This time, I gave in and we attended the service the next Sunday.
I later found out that the congregation had been praying that someone in the building I lived in would walk through their doors.
A Plan and a Purpose
As soon as we entered the church, I felt God’s love. The pastors and the congregation were warm and welcoming. I started to attend the church services, and for the first time in my life, I opened a Bible. Not only that, I stopped drinking. There was no need any more to use alcohol as an emotional crutch. Soon, I took an active role at Erin Mills, volunteering to lead a youth group.
A little over a year later, I became an official member of The Salvation Army. Not long after, I met a wonderful man named Ian who became my husband. Together, we decided to pursue full-time ministry with The Salvation Army, and we are now in Winnipeg taking the intensive two-year training that will enable us to become pastors.
When people who don’t have faith question me on why I live this life now and why I won’t go back to my old life, I reply, “The world had me for 33 years—it had its chance.” Jesus has taken the messy pile of yarn that was my life, worked out the knots and cleaned up the frays to make someone beautiful. I’d never go back to being the woman I was.
I am living proof that God has a greater plan and purpose. My prayer is that others will know that and want it, too.