When I was in Africa (after I met Jesus) God showed me something. I and the people I was with happened to be driving through a town one day. People had their tents and wares set up on either side, it was hot and dry and people were milling all about. We had driven about a mile into town, and as we approached the center of it I sensed a change. The first thing I noticed was the hoards of flies buzzing everywhere, the second thing that hit me was the stench. It was horrible. I began to experience the smell of disposal, death and decay and I thought “What in the world?” And right there dead center in the middle of the town was a huge garbage dump. The road led right through it! There was filth every where, goats and dogs and rats were running about the place. Small children were playing in it. But that wasn’t the most shocking thing. To my horror people had actually built their houses out of the garbage and were living right in the middle of it!
I have known great thirst in my life. My parents worked a lot and I pretty much raised my siblings. I never felt loved and met a guy at when I was 15 where my mother worked. He paid me much attention and I misunderstood that as being loved. I became pregnant at 16 and when I told my parents, they told me that if I didn’t have an abortion they would send me away. They sent me to have it done and my boyfriend came with me. It was a horrifying experience for me. It haunted me for a very long time. Afterwards my parents told me that I was never allowed to see my boyfriend again and since I thought he was the only person that loved me, I overdosed on pills and locked myself in my room when no one was home. My boyfriend called my dad and he broke into my room and called the ambulance. I’ll never forget the look of disgust and embarrassment that hung on his face as he stood in our driveway as the ambulance took me away. My mother was a waitress and she didn’t even leave work to come to the hospital. I did not die that day, at least not physically. Counseling was mandatory for my parents and me but after one session they said the counselors didn’t know what they were talking about and we never went again.
I ran away when I was 16 and became a homeless person, later I married to a drug dealer who abused me terribly. I became an addict myself. I was raped and had been molested at a very early age. Many ugly things happened during those 4 years. It felt as though I had lived 9 lives! I knew that I hated myself and believed God couldn’t stand the sight of me either. I saw the world as one big garbage dump. I couldn’t bear the thought that no one really cared about anyone and if the next 20 years was anything like the last 20 had been, I wanted no part of it. I felt like a dirty used up rag that had been thrown away so many times it wasn’t usable anymore. In all of my pain and despair I decided to end my life.
This time I would succeed. At the precise moment I was about to act on my verdict, I was suddenly aware that the TV was on and I heard a man’s voice say, “It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God loves you so much that he sent his son Jesus to die for you.” Those words stunned me. I dropped to my knees and begged God to come into my life. And in that moment he drenched my thirsty heart with his love, and poured it into me in a way that was full of powerful compassion! I think it was the first time I had ever experienced real love. I couldn’t stop weeping. I had no idea what I had done, but I knew it was real. I never touched another drug again, never wanted to. That was 26 years ago!
I began attending a church of good works and good intentions. It was a place I was at first welcomed. I had such a passion within me for God but the abuse in my marriage continued and I turned to a man in the church for help. When one of the elders saw us together he called a meeting with the other elders and had me discarded from the church. All of the relationships I had built up to that point became irrelevant. They all “broke fellowship” with me and backed it with scripture. It’s been a long and painful journey and for the past 25 years. Life can be brutal. People can too, myself included. I have 8 children, and 5 grandchildren, a wonderful loving husband who I am so grateful for. And a God who never threw me away! On the contrary, God came into the garbage dump of my life and he knelt down and began to grow a garden of fragrance and beauty. He offered me his living water. That is one of his favorite things to do and he does it like no other when we trust him. I am an imperfect, shining example that no matter what junk you have in your life it isn’t ugly enough or filthy enough to make God pause in his love for you. His love is wild and extravagant!