As Wide as the Ocean - Salvation Army Canada

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    As Wide as the Ocean

    A broken relationship led to a new love story. November 24, 2015 by Vanessa Hatzioannidis
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    My family is Greek Orthodox. I enjoy Orthodox culture and festivities, but we weren't terribly devout. We went to mass with my grandparents at Christmas and Easter, standing up and sitting down when the rest of the congregation did, because my sister and I don't understand much Greek.

    Then I started dating a man who had a relationship with God in a way I didn't. Over four years, he talked about his love of Christ and how he wanted me to know God as well. He invited me to church with him from time to time, and that's how I began attending Northridge Community Church in Newmarket, Ont.

    Everything at Northridge was new and unfamiliar, except the warmth I felt from the people. The corps officers were easier to understand than the priests I was accustomed to. They spoke about a great love I had never heard of, a relationship I didn't have and a commitment like no other.

    I began to pray and read. C.S. Lewis became a good friend—his books were like letters from a wise, distant pen pal.

    When I started talking to my parents about my interest in Christianity, they encouraged me to stay open to different spiritual paths. My father is one of the most intelligent men I know, and I appreciated the “devil's advocate” role he took. Sometimes I was frustrated that I couldn't answer his questions, but they challenged me. Through it all, God's Word continued to speak in my life.

    Still, I was stuck staring at the vast ocean that was the love of God from a safe distance on shore. It was clear to me that following Christ wasn't a decision to make lightly, and so I hesitated.

    And then my heart was broken. The man I loved and dreamed of sharing my life with no longer felt the same about me. I wept and wondered why this was happening.

    It came to one painfully vulnerable moment. I looked back and saw brokenness; I looked forward and saw giant question marks. In desperation, I searched for someone to help. Then I felt a force above me and my knees met the ground. I took a deep breath in and sent a broken cry out. God was there.

    Since that moment, my heart has been filled with the Spirit. Thinking about it often brings me to tears.

    My family has supported me with open arms and hearts. They continue to ask questions about my faith and are patient when I struggle to answer. They make sure the car is available on Sundays so I can get to church and they even attended a service to acknowledge my faith commitment. There are times when they worry about me, but it serves as a reminder that I come from a family of lion hearts, with strength and loyalty like the sun and stars.

    Sometimes I feel guilty that it took a crisis to bring me to God. He was there the whole time, whispering in my ear and patiently waiting for me to turn to him, but I ignored him until I was desperate. I realize now I idolized my romantic relationship, relying on it to be my everything.

    I wish I could go back and reach out for God sooner, but that's not how it works. His love is truth and grace—truth that points out I'm not the master of my own life and will always need him; grace that loves me despite my mistakes, more than I will ever deserve.

    As for my heart—it still aches for the love I once had. But now I know my life is in better hands than my own. My hope rests in Christ, and if I am certain of anything it is that our love story will last a lifetime. I'm doing my best to listen for his voice and surrender everything for his glory, giving myself to him each day to do his will.

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