The following letter was received yesterday. Names have been changed but the letter is one that needs to be read and appreciated.
“Dear Brother Jack, You were always so busy with your ministry but you always had time for me. You were the first person that ever told me that God loved me and that I was worth something. It took quite a few years and many mistakes and a lot of pain for me to begin to believe it. I had to reach rock bottom and want to die before I let God help me.
I was angry at God and blamed him for not making my life easier. I felt I had suffered enough as a child and paid my dues. God was supposed to save me and make my life easy. When that didn’t happen I turned my back on Him. After a few years of living in the world, I felt God surely would not want me. I hated myself and wanted to die.
I started drinking when Charlie left me. . . I found after a glass or two of wine, I was prettier and smarter and more easily accepted. I started dating someone before my divorce was final… A very stable intelligent man, so different than Charlie. If Tom said he was going to do something, you could count on it getting done. I liked the stability; it made me feel safe. The only problem was he was verbally mean. I thought if I loved him enough he would change. It didn’t. We married about two years after we met. My life turned into a living nightmare . . I was not emotionally strong enough to deal with his anger. We were married two years and by the time I got the courage to leave I was drinking daily. I kept thinking that when my life got better I would quit. The only thing that came from those miserable years is that I finally learned how to be alone.
I could write pages of all that happened in the 16 years since Charlie and I divorced, but I think you see a little of the picture I’m painting.
March 22, 2006 is the day I took my last drink. I guess the will to live and the desire I had to leave my children a better legacy than their Mom dying a drunken mess was stronger than my wanting to die. I think at the time if I could have done it without God’s help, I would have. I wanted to love God but I was SO ANGRY! I also felt that I had messed up so badly that I did not deserve His love. . . many times I prayed face down on the floor, crying my eyes out, begging for His forgiveness, His love and His help. I learned to start to open my heart to Him. I learned to tell Him the truth; that I was a lost, miserable hurt child.
Brother Jack, that first year was the hardest, most wonderful year of my life. I only did two things right. I didn’t drink one day at a time and I learned to trust my Father. We had many, many talks, my Father and I. I cried myself to sleep so many nights, talking to him about my childhood, my past and the people I’ve hurt. I learned forgiveness, for myself first and for those who have hurt me. I still struggle at times for the hugeness of God forgiving me. I am fully aware that I do not deserve His mercy and that nothing I could ever do could merit His mercy. It is enough to daily accept His grace in the same way I accept His keeping me sober. I read, I study, I pray and ask God for more. More love, more understanding, more of Him in my life.
I read what Paul wrote to the Romans, “Because of God’s grace and mercy; because I know Jesus died for me, I have begun to know who I am. I am no longer defined as an alcoholic failure. I am Joan, a sinner that deserve death and hell for all eternity. Instead I am loved and cherished by God; accepted into His wonderful family, with God himself as my Father and Jesus Christ as my Brother and Savior. “O what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord.”
You and Ann showed me love. You saw the inside of me and showed me God. I believe God knew the path I would choose; how lost I would get, how broken I would have to be to turn to Him. . . In my mind and heart I look back and see that 23 year old lost broken hearted girl, who for some reason chose to go an assembly one night to hear someone named “Exum” speak. It was the first time in my life I had seen God in someone.
I don’t know God’s plan for me. It would be enough to know the life I now live would touch one person. That my life for God would shine so brightly to be a welcome beacon for the lost broken person that just wants to find their way home. I love you,” Joan.
Note: Maybe this is the one way your desire to reach out and touch others can come to pass.