Lost in the Garden – Realization of my sinful nature

English: Door into the fruit garden at Strokes...

English: Door into the fruit garden at Strokestown Park The six acre walled garden has recently been restored at Strokestown Park. Many of the fruit varieties date back to the mid 1700’s. The stone walls were heated with fire-boxes built on to the outside. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t remember asking Christ to be my Savior. Well, I don’t think so anyway. Have you ever created a memory because someone told you it happened?  My mom told me she led me to Christ when I was four. So I have this memory  of sitting on my bed with my mom, folding my hands and repeating a prayer. But I’m quite positive it’s not a memory at all. I don’t remember being four years old. I  couldn’t understand grace when I was four. I do remember finally grasping an aspect of God’s grace and love at age 11.

When I was eleven I thought I might accidentally stab my sister with a kitchen knife. I didn’t want to stab my sister. I loved my sister. But this was an age where I was afraid I would accidentally sin. If I found out something was wrong, I wondered what would happen if I did it. But I had intense guilt about these thoughts.

I was a perverted child who would snicker with my girlfriends when someone said, ” Do it.”  I would easily lie to my parents and not feel guilty. My conscience wasn’t  strong.  But one day I came home from my grandparent’s house to a surprise party for my tenth birthday. I was so grateful and overwhelmed with my parent’s love, that I felt guilty for the way I was. Suddenly I listened to my conscience and realized I wanted to be a good person. Being in the presence of love made me want to be better. It made me want to be deserving of this love. So, shortly after my tenth birthday I confessed to my mom how I had been behaving.  I thought, from then on,  I would be  free of guilt and condemnation. But instead I started feeling guilty for everything. Every bad thought or slight mistake, I was overwhelmed with guilt, running to my parents to confess. I probably drove my parent nuts.  I remember one day  vividly. I was very depressed and heavy with guilt. Everything just felt suffocating. I went in my room and just cried on my bed. I felt crazy and alone. I couldn’t escape the guilt. It felt dark.  I could feel this tug-of- war on my heart between good and evil.  I wanted to be perfect but I couldn’t control my thoughts. I wanted to be good yet knew I couldn’t be.

I started reading more scripture and paying more attention at church. I looked to God for help, understanding I couldn’t be good by my own power. Somehow by age eleven I finally grasped the unconditional love of God. I started praying more and taking every thought captive. Finally this guilt and depression faded away. Age eleven was a pivotal age for me. I had an epiphany. I started to see myself the way God saw me; as a precious child of God. I felt His love and just wanted to worship Him.  I wanted to tell everyone about his great love and grace. I felt goodness won the game of tug-of-war over my heart. I found peace in the presence of God.

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