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Oct19FriIn the midst of life’s uncertainties, God whispered words of peace to my heart. October 19, 2018 by Fae Sturge
I was born in 1947 in Barrie, Ont., to Salvation Army officer parents. I gave my heart to Christ when I was just seven years old during the Sunday morning meeting at music camp at Jackson’s Point Divisional Camp in Ontario, where my parents were stationed for the summer of 1954. We moved frequently over the next few years, and by the time I finished high school in Edmonton, I had gone to 13 different schools. I returned to Ontario, eventually settling in Toronto in 1967, and was married a year later. My husband and I were blessed with two wonderful daughters.
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My parents set very strict standards for my two brothers and me. As the middle child, I struggled with low self-worth for most of my life. My older brother is an extremely talented musician and I was expected to be like him. When that didn’t happen, I believed I was a disappointment to everyone. I never felt that I measured up, and I became known only as my father’s daughter or my husband’s wife, never as myself. I stood back, afraid to speak up, and allowed others to make decisions for me and dictate what I was going to do, and when.
It was a long time before I started to state my own opinions. God showed me that I was more than good enough for him and gave me strength for what was to come.
The pain and financial hardship that I experienced when my marriage failed were overwhelming. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, it was devastating to hear the doctors tell my daughters that I might not survive the surgery that was required. But God had other plans. A pre-surgery CT scan revealed what the surgeon referred to as a miracle. The tumour had dissolved and surgery was no longer needed.
With a new lease on life and God’s provision of strength for each day, I eventually started working at The Salvation Army’s Florence Booth House, a women’s shelter in Toronto. For almost 10 years I had the privilege of serving as the assistant director, where I met individuals who had lost everything. I realized all the things I had gone through were preparing me to help the women who came through our doors. One client in particular made an impact on me. A series of strokes had left her partially paralyzed, but she had such a positive attitude. Even while living in a dorm with 46 other women, she was determined to have the best life she could and taught me there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome.
With that encouragement behind me, I raised my family and worshipped at Agincourt Community Church in Toronto, my corps since 1977, and completed a bachelor of arts in social work. Nothing could have prepared me for the day when I learned that my position at the shelter was no longer needed. Although I was able to secure employment as a supervisor and social worker at VHA Home HealthCare in Toronto, my old feelings of worthlessness came back and I turned away from God, my faith and my church.
God tried to get my attention through a quiet voice that spoke to my heart every day, and through my youngest daughter, who regularly asked why I wasn’t going to the corps. It took several years before I realized I couldn’t keep going down that path. I knew I had to talk to someone, so I called Major Wendy Johnstone, Agincourt’s corps officer at that time. She reminded me that I am precious and worthy in God’s sight and encouraged me to forgive those who had hurt me, not for their sake but so I could be free to let God work in my life. When I renewed my covenant with him, I felt whole and ready to do what he wanted of me.
Since that day, I have known that God is in control, even when I was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Many people prayed for me and encouraged me as I underwent surgery and radiation, and I praise God that my cancer is in remission.
I now work as the community and family services worker here at the corps, where I feel privileged to meet and serve the people of our community. I thank God for saving me and being with me, no matter what life may throw at me.