Salvation in a Laundrymat The Testimony of Julie November 27, 2005
Originally published on http://www.fellowshipchurchonline.com/
When the trials of life got me down
And my angst led to seeking and a new church
It was the outstretched arms of the laundrymat attendant
That led to a decision washing me clean, indeed.
That was 1988: I was single and a Christian man had just entered my life. My life was stuffed at the time with full time work in healthcare and graduate school. Dabbling in church attendance and regular Al Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings were fueling a desire to learn more about God and the person of Jesus Christ. I had so many questions, so many unresolved hurts from my childhood. Sitting in the audience of a very large, non-denominational church brought tears and stirred something deep inside me. Something I hadn’t felt in years . . .
I grew up attending a local church, complete with first communions, baptisms, lighting candles, going to the confessional, and the like. As a teenager and in college, I attended other churches of the same denomination and the routine, the rituals, were pretty much the same. But where was God? I could sense Him sometimes on Sunday mornings and in one particular baptismal service for my Godchild, Tommy. Why wasn’t He helping our family on the other days of the week?
My family life was in shambles. My father developed a mental illness and left our home when I was 9 years old. I would later understand that his struggle to overcome his mental illness exposed me and my brothers to sorrows beyond belief. There were inappropriate experiences with other adults as well.
We struggled to survive. My mom went back to work to support us and a few people tried to help where they could. The weekly allowances, ice cream from the Good Humor truck, books from the South Elementary School Book Club, and chocolate milk for lunch ended. My mom struggled in her identity as a single mom. The church fell short in meeting her needs, our needs and we were shamed by others. Some of the neighborhood boys weren’t allowed to play with my brothers. I felt rejected too. We kids fought a lot. And God bless the babysitters who risked losing their sanity by coming to our house!
My brothers, in time, would turn to alcohol or drugs to endure life. Both would eventually spend time in jail and never quite make it in the work world. Neither one married. One died of alcoholism and the other is devoting himself to care for our mom. Amazing! By the grace of God, I was given different responsibilities and opportunities.
A neighbor introduced me to the Warren Jayteens, the teen group of the Warren Jaycees (in our city just outside of Detroit, Michigan). That was the first of many new interests, part time jobs, and classical guitar lessons, and the list goes on. I became a “human doing” instead of a “human being.” My worth came from my activities, my accomplishments. And on the outside, I excelled.
Inside, I was hurting. I sought comfort in dating relationships and dabbled in alcohol and marijuana. My tolerance to alcohol increased. The partying continued when I moved to Illinois after college to start my first job in healthcare. I would later see that my profession was a gift from God. He gave me the insight to pursue a profession in which I would teach others the skill of adapting to any circumstance. I personally benefited from this as I entered graduate school, found Al Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics, changed jobs, moved a few times, and met a Christian man.
That dear man helped me with my many questions about God and the Bible. The witness of his upbringing in a Christian home spoke volumes of what it really looked like to grow up in a stable environment. His father was a leader in his childhood church. The witness of Craig’s life and of his family, showed me more of what it was like to have good clean fun and led to a decision for Christ.
On our third date, he brought me to a very large, non-denominational church. There were 4,000 people at each service! I thought it was a cult! I was wrong. My soul got fed for the first time. Some months later, a laundry mat attendant sensed my needs, my readiness, and witnessed to me. I will never forget that day. I can still see her face. She had so much love in her eyes. That night, alone in my apartment, I prayed to have Jesus come into my life. I repented of the mistakes of my past. I was truly washed clean by the blood of Jesus.
Two years later in 1991, Craig and I were married in that large, non-denominational church. We worshipped there five years. I grew in my understanding of the Christian life. I tried to be a “good Christian” wife and fell short a bit. My walk with the Lord would really begin several years later when Craig led us to a smaller Bible church. It was there that I began to unravel the part of the pain of my childhood that had created a barrier to developing an intimate relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. More tears. More healing. And a faithful man to walk with me. Very cool.
Things changed March 4, 2003. Our marriage had endured several trials and disappointments by then. Craig’s father had died, I was injured in an auto accident with lingering effects, Craig was laid off twice, we lost the court case related to the accident, and my work-related injuries created financial and emotional hardships for both of us. I always returned to work after a setback. I adapted. Craig pursued a new career direction as well in aviation and we felt the Lord’s blessing and provision. Then he had to stop suddenly and was never quite the same after that. He began to withdraw from me. At the same time, he threw himself into church service and became a Deacon. I tried to start a second business and return to work in healthcare. God had other plans.
On the morning of March 4, 2003, I prayed a desperate prayer for the Lord to intervene in my life. Intervene he did! That night I received a phone call and learned that my husband had been in an affair for about a year. I asked Craig to leave for awhile that night and he did. He never came back.
Standing in my living room, very late at night, very alone, I was in shock. I knew my life was about to change but had no idea how it would. A verse came to me from Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
That verse would come back to me again and again at key times over the next three years – at times when no other words could possibly sustain me or give me hope. Like the night of the fire . . .
Let’s just say that major changes occurred in rapid-fire succession from that day forward. (Riddle: What day of the year is a command? Answer: March “fourth.” Geez!)
My grandmother died. I refinanced our home. My brother died. The divorce process became eminent. I sold my home. I moved. I lost my job due to an injury. I was promoted in my home business. I moved again. I got a temporary job then a permanent position. My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. The divorce was final at Christmastime. Geez! I was in a fire. I moved twice to temporary housing. I moved to a beautiful condo where I now reside. The healing work has begun, from the inside out!
Whew! I thank the Lord for walking with me and for bringing the Army of Believers who have been there, led me, and carried me on this journey to today. It takes an Army and an unshakable faith in Christ to rise from the trials of life victorious. I pray daily for Craig’s repentance and return to the Lord. And I do know this: the choices we make each day determine where we ultimately land in our walk with the Lord, our walk through the days of our lives. Since my prayer has always been for my own sorrows not to be wasted, I remember to seek the face of Jesus each day, especially when the mud flies. I pray that Craig will too. He has incredible gifts of teaching, of reasoning, of physical health, and of loving. May these be used for God’s glory soon.
As for me, I’m called to do what I can with what I have, where I am. (At the time of this writing in 2005, I’d) just had a “Thanksgiving” party to thank all the people that helped me; the evening was wonderful! I pray that the Lord continues to restore me. Through this process, my purpose has become clear: to build something of significance that blesses other people. Gee, that’s what I’ve always wanted in my heart before I could put the words together! To know this purpose is the intervention I prayed for March 4, 2003. I am closer to this dream now more than ever before. And it came this way. This way? Yes, it came this way.
And since this has proven to be true in my life I must say that I really wouldn’t want it any other way!
Thanks. Just Julie
ADDENDUM: It is now 9 years later when I have come across my testimony in an old computer file. I am amazed at all the Lord has walked with me through! My mother passed away in March of 2007 and I married my intended beloved, Steve, in November later that year. I moved to Indiana to marry Steve, to slow things down, to rediscover so many rich outdoor activities, and to enjoy a loving relationship with Steve like none I had ever experienced before. Even a serious personal illness, my brother’s stroke, and a medical leave from a lifelong profession that I love could not deter the love I experience from my Jesus and my Stevers. After all: life goes on. I am exceedingly grateful that the Lord never changes. I am exceedingly grateful for so much!
The most important element in all of this, in all of my life, is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you Jesus.
That is all. JJ