My walk to faith was never a straight line. In childhood my few experiences with Christianity were confusing and at times slightly terrifying . A grade school sleep over where I was told that it was too bad I was not “born again” because it meant I was bound for hell. A churchgoing friends house that was ruled with intimidation and a demand for perfection. Catholic neighbors who went to Mardi Gras every year in New Orleans and carted home giant bags of metallic plastic treasure which I interpreted as their reward straight from GOD for their dutiful attendance at church and the attached private school. God was a sort of Santa Claus in my mind that loved you if you were good. God had no use for a creature such as me, never a good girl and always broken. I had no use for a God that I could never be enough for.
At 26 my husband and I became pregnant with our first child. We were not yet married and living in a rundown apartment with mauve carpeting and cinder block walls. God’s perfect timing interceded and we met with a pastor new to St. Louis because a friend of my mothers thought we would like him and we needed someone, anyone, to marry us. I walked in to his office nauseous and prepared to take my punishment quietly if necessary. The condemnation never came. Each week I would brace myself for the request to accept Jesus, a man I know nothing about other than he was very very good, as my personal savior and week after week I was instead introduced to a Christian that in his every question and comment conveyed his sincere respect and interest in our lives that we did not have to earn.
That pastor married us and months later as the birth of our daughter approached we decided to attend the church that he led. I had never read the bible. I was ignorant of all things Church and hopelessly intimidated by believers. Women I barely knew decided to throw me a baby shower and I begrudgingly went so as not to offend any of the nice and good people. My husband was called to work at the last minute and I walked into the house alone, near tears, shaking with fear of being found a fraud, undeserving of any kindness. Towards the end they decided to pray for my baby and the delivery. We stood and joined hands and I can clearly remember my hysterical thoughts that we were going to chant and kneel and do something ceremonial and terribly RELIGIOUS. Instead, one by one, people just talked. They talked to God and asked for protection for my daughter, for peace, for joy, for health. For nine months I had carried a child I was convinced I did not deserve and was going to lose. For nine months I had stayed upright by my will alone with white knuckles and a hurting heart.
There in that backyard, holding hands with strangers I was delivered into a Father’s arms I had only heard of. For those moments in prayer I was not afraid. I was safe and breathing. I could let go. It was two more years before I knew that Jesus was my savior. I needed time to learn and ask questions and let go of Mardi Gras beads and Santa Claus, of fear and condemnation. Just a few short hours after that circle of prayer my water broke and 24 hours after that I held my daughter in a dim hospital room weeping in thanks to a God who had pursued me through cigarettes and tattoos, countless failures and mistakes, through hard times I thought would kill me. I wept because my journey with my daughter had just begun and I knew that I was no longer alone. Never in a straight line but the only line that mattered, the one that led to Him.
By Greta Coalier, gremadchaLeave a Comment
Wow! What an amazing story of grace! Praise God that He led you to graceful, loving Christians. Now you can do the same for another searching soul whose path to faith is also a bit wonky.
I pray can demonstrate such grace.
Amy Hunt says
Nope – never in a straight line, and ALWAYS for purpose. Your daughter…He used her for purpose…and every speck of how she was created. It’s all for Him. Each bit of it is a part of your story. Receive the grace.
Rich blessings as you learn more about His love for you, Greta…
Always for purpose, SO TRUE!
Lovely testimony! There is raw beauty in your writing.
Thank you, what a huge compliment.
This was truly inspirational! I hope to be like these people you describe–the ones who loved you right into Jesus’ arms. THANK YOU for sharing your story.
Monica @ In the Whisper says
Thanks so much for this honesty. It is an amazing story. We need more women to be so honest about our struggles with faith.
Thanks, sometimes it gets me in trouble:)
Rachel Tatem says
Thanks for sharing! What a lovely story
This is the most beautiful, transparent, hope filled, encouragingthing I’ve ever read. Thank you.
I am overwhelmed by your sweet comment. It means more than you know.
love love love! i didn’t know you then… and i only knew pieces of your testimony. i’m so encouraged by our God who pursued you & Sam in such a real way, and in the way you both continue to pursue knowing Him & His Truth today! thanks for writing this, greta!! (you’re big time, by the way- i know someone almost famous!!) : )
If famous is picking up cheese off the floor while children pile on top of me then YES I am almost famous.
The line that led to Him…so beautiful. I love the way that “family” loved you. I wish more church was like that. What an inspiration for us all. ~Jessica
I can only hope to love others so well!
Holley Gerth says
Tears…so beautiful. Thank you this, just thank you.
Okay sorry to cause tears but that is the best compliment I may ever have received. I’ve always wanted to be able to write in a way that makes people FEEL.
Wonderful story of grace and love. You rock.
I’m so thankful for your willingness to really throw it all out there in such an honest way. I am encouraged by you and your willingness to put all of your trust in our Lord, whom you have only known briefly. Thanks for your words Greta! You’re an amazing momma.
I love the tender, beautiful wooing of your heart to Him,and the way His love was poured out on You through His sons and daughters. Thank you for this beautiful truth of how He comes for us, never leaving our side, no matter what journey we are on. I am personally so thankful for how He has stuck by me, and I am filled with His grace again through your reminder in this post. Thank you.
I think that sums it up, GRACE.
your heart here on screen is as beautiful as it was the day you first told me this story, sitting on your floor.
i love that you don’t put the heavy makeup of Christian cliches all over your story … His grace has such natural beauty, and your telling of His love is the very best kind of truth.
love to you, friend.
Thanks for your sweet words, they mean so much coming from you!
Thank you for your story. I connect with it on so many levels (growing up Catholic, pregnant out of wedlock, and feeling less than adequate to receive God’s grace)… I am ever-so-thankful to hear how your path led to what I hope mine will. Again, thank you for sharing your heart.
So glad God has room for ALL of us:)
That was beautiful. I read it to my husband who I don’t normally read posts to – and he said that was very well written.
May you continue to walk with Him and many blessings,
What an awesome compliment! Not sure when the last time was that I read something to my husband:)
Ann Kroeker says
You were finally surprised by grace and acceptance…and it led you to the Savior. I’m so glad He led you to Himself in spite of the barriers put up by people.
I think the barriers come when you don’t know the truth of God’s words so there is nothing to ground you in the Gospel. I’m so thankful I was encouraged to do bible studies so I could learn for myself who God is, and isn’t:)
LOVE! LOVE! LOVE….is what it is all about! What a wonderful reminder!
What a magnificent testimony! Thank you for sharing so vulnerably of God’s grace and restoration and the love you received from His people when you expected the opposite. This encourages my heart. Even more grace and peace to you in Jesus!
Greta, I’ve read many of your blog posts and have been moved by your words countless times. But right now tears are streaming down my face and I’m not even sure why. Because I didn’t know you then and I love who you are now and I see the power of grace in your life? Because I wish that I felt His love as much as I see it in the truth of your story? I’m not sure, but I obviously needed my soul stirred and I’m so thankful for your heart in this post.
What I’m Reading says
[…] This is a really powerful testimony and a reminder of the kind of Christian I want to be::: Never A Straight Line […]
Amy Sullivan says
Oh, I liked this post, a lot, a lot, a lot. Hope you don’t mind, but I’m leaving a link at my place so people can find their way back here.
Deanne Bevan says
I have been following your blog this year and have been an admirer of your writing and wit but this testamony has been the best. Thankyou for directing me to it through your blog. I am also a commited Christian and my most exciting revelation was when in the depths of depression I read the passage about how God loves us so much that he knows every hair on our head. How awesome is that when we don’t even know how many hairs are on our childrens heads. Imagine the sacrifice of his son who died for us. I just find the love of God to be so all encompassing and comforting. thank you for sharing your story love Deanne Bevan
lisa j. haase says
You are amazing! Your writing always speaks to me! Our Father always brings it! Thanks for sharing your story!
Thank you. Thank you for your genuineness. Your children are blessed to have a mommy like with your story, your experiences, your authentic faith.