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A Faith To Move Mountains

posted Jul 12, 2017, 7:51 AM by Eli Roberts
By Maria R.

Sharp, pointy, three-inch thorns intertwined into a complex halo and held up in the air by Sister Cecelia for the whole class to see. She then gave a student the brown thorny crown to inspect and pass around the class. I listened as she described having this crown placed upon her head with her entry into becoming a nun. She explained that unlike Christ’s crown, her crown had been softened by submersion into water. When it got to me, I couldn’t believe that this crown was ever soft with very hard and painful points. My mind drifted off with thoughts of Christ and how painful it must have been to have a crown like this pushed into His scalp. He loved us so very much to sacrifice Himself for our sins. Sister Cecelia continued to convey her calling to become a nun and desire to become a saint. By the end of her show and tell, all the girls were in awe of her and wished to join the convent.

I too decided to become a nun that day. I read all that I could about saints. I checked out every book the library had about female saints and their lives, and when I had exhausted the Catholic school’s library, I had my mom buy me an encyclopedia of saint’s lives. I was drawn into their devotion to God, suffering, and challenges. But most of all I was hungry to feel His presence like they had felt. How awesome it must be to be able to hear Him speak to you and feel His love around you. I related so much to the saints. Some of them didn’t have the best relationships at home. Mary would be my mother, like other saints had done, who didn’t feel love or acceptance from their moms.

In Catholic school we learned all about God’s judgment and wrath of those He was displeased with. I remember going to bed angry at my parents one night. I don’t remember what it was they had said or done that I was so upset about. I crawled onto the sofa in the room I shared with my brother. I could feel my cheeks were on fire with anger towards my parents as I rested my head on the pillow. A thought dashed through my mind. Was God angry with me for not honoring my parents? I then saw an image in my head of my Snoopy doll’s head being cut from its torso. I wanted to hold on to the anger I felt towards my parents to justify what I was feeling towards them. Slowly I sat up and reached out for Snoopy which was laying at my feet. As I picked him up, shock and remorse washed over me. Snoopy’s head was cut at the neck! As I held his limp body, I immediately apologized to God and asked His forgiveness for letting my feelings get the best of me.

Growing up facing life challenges and hearing names tossed my way due to my short stature was difficult. My nemesis, which was the daughter of my mom’s friend, took great delight in picking on me from elementary school through my sophomore year in high school. My long hair, height, grades, etc. were all targets. It seemed that whatever I had, or desired, she sought too. I really disliked her, and it was hard not to strike back. I kept the Snoopy lesson in mind. I tried my best to turn the other cheek and remember that “vengeance is the Lord’s.” Seeking a fresh start I switched to an all girl school my junior year. My mother came to me with some news one day. A car wreck occurred resulting in my nemesis being thrown through the windshield and hitting her head. She had lost her memory and sense of smell. Reluctantly, I accompanied my mom to the hospital. Seeing her bruised face all bandaged up had a profound effect on me. I would never have wished this upon anyone. How could I hold on to what she had done to me when she couldn’t even remember who I was? That is when I truly learned the lesson of forgiveness. In His way God had given her a new start void of all she had done in the past.

My first real boyfriend breakup couldn’t have come at a worse time. My mother had just had a hysterectomy and couldn’t use the stairs. My brother and father were fighting in the kitchen. My mom was screaming at me to come downstairs to make sure the fight wouldn’t turn physical. My brother was abusive, so the threat was real. Angel, my boyfriend, decided to belittle me as a course of breakup. I heard my brother’s words to me echoing from my past. I went to bed believing all the hateful things about myself that Angel said. I went to bed crying myself to sleep and hoping not to awaken. I hated myself for all the bad things that I had done in my life. A voice woke me saying “I love you,” but there was no one with me. My self-hate, also known as depression, didn’t go away. I met with a pastor who said, although I prayed for forgiveness, I wouldn’t feel forgiveness until I forgave myself. That revelation was so profound in my life. It was like a weight was lifted off me. Once I forgave myself, other feelings were taken from me too. Feelings of anger and bitterness were gone. I felt free.

I continued my quest to have a deeper relationship with God. I met Gordon while at UT. He loved to run which I was getting into. He was this energetic force that was fun to be around. He looked to me to help him finally get confirmed in the Catholic Church. Later, we decided to share an apartment together. That is when I was able to see the real Gordon. A few times when he drank the Jekyll came out. One night he shoved me out of the apartment in the cold. I only had my keys with me. He chain locked and blocked the door with furniture, so that I could not get back in. I tried to sleep in my car, but it was so cold. I was able to push the furniture back enough to grab a blanket from the couch. I cried out to God to get Gordon to realize what he was doing to me was wrong and then fell asleep. Knock! Knock! I awoke to Gordon telling me, “I had a dream that God was telling me that I should not treat you as I had and to come get you from the cold.” God had answered my prayers.

We would go to concerts, run, and snow ski. I would like to say his mean behavior towards me stopped, but it didn’t. On a skiing trip we had a discussion regarding God. Gordon started belittling my beliefs in a hateful way as he was speeding down the highway. I didn’t say anything to refute what he was saying to me. I prayed to God for a sign. If I was right in my belief in Him that He would have a police car around the bend of the mountain. I didn’t want Gordon to get a speeding ticket. I just wanted him to be quiet. As Gordon took the turn around the bend, a police car was right there. Gordon stopped mid-sentence and said, “That is a sign that God wants me to shut up about what I am saying to you.” Never in my life had I ever had prayers answered so instantaneously than when I was with Gordon.

Seeking a deeper relationship with God, I would go to a hidden chapel across the street from UT, and I met a lovely lady named Jenny. She listened to me talk about Gordon. Although I felt pain, I wouldn’t let myself get angry. I would just forgive. She told me, “God created everything for a reason including the negative emotions. Anger is a healthy emotion that enables us to act. God helps those who help themselves.” I finally allowed myself to get angry at Gordon and moved away.

After my first marriage ended in failure, I asked for God to bring me a man who would bring me closer to Him. God answered that prayer too, but not in a way that I would have ever imagined. I met Judas at a restaurant. He knew the bible inside and out. He wanted to be a minister before he joined the Marines. As he was talking, I saw a picture in my mind of an old porch. We were old but together. When Judas hugged me goodbye, it felt as if our hearts had connected and mixed together as one. Judas and I spoke of marriage together and started making plans to move in that direction. My children loved him. He seemed to be the Godly man for me. He found a house for us to live in together. I used the equity in my house to put an even bigger down payment on the house to be built. We were wed in February but couldn’t move in together until after the house was built. As we were moving in, I realized I had made a mistake. Maybe it was the stress of moving in, but Judas was angry and threatening divorce. He took his anger out on some of my things. Once the move was done, his daughter, Sybil, started showing her alternate personality. She had been self-mutilating for years without detection. My attempts to get Judas to help her only ended with him verbally abusing me. Like the real Judas he did a cowardly act one night when I laid down to sleep. He took my full 32oz Aquafina water bottle and hit me over the head then poured the water over my face. I knew enough about domestic violence to know that it would only get worse if I didn’t tell anyone, so I called the police that night. I was spiritually conflicted. I made a vow before God to stay married to Judas. I sought help from the Catholic Church. To my shock the marriage counselor told me, “God does not call one to be in a marriage like this.” She asked me if I was only in the marriage to help and protect the kids? Her words hit me like a ton of bricks.

While I was married to Judas he revealed to me that he was agnostic. He disliked and distrusted ministers of all types including the minister whom I liked the most, Joyce Meyers. The bible is very clear that one cannot divorce a non-Christian unless they leave. I held on to the marriage and got confidence from Joyce Meyer’s book The Battle Belongs To The Lord. Judas continued to verbally berate me. It didn’t matter if the kids were around or not, or where I was. He would shout every foul name he could at me. He would explode my voicemail box with nasty messages until he could no longer leave any. I kept my thoughts and words to myself. I only responded to his “no one likes or loves you” to which I replied “God loves me.” I knew that nothing I would say would get him to stop. Our marriage counselor observed first hand, even if I said nothing, Judas would berate me and would be incited unless I agreed with him fully or adored him completely. Our son came to me one day and asked, “When are you going to divorce him?” I was shocked and asked him, “Do you want me to divorce him?” He replied, “Yes.” The fear of not having a fulltime teaching job next year to provide for my kids and myself kept me from filing for divorce then.

Days before our wedding anniversary Judas moved out, not paying the mortgage or the homeowner’s dues like he had done in the past to get me to be nice to him. Since Judas moved out, I was free to file for divorce. His friend must have gotten sick of having Judas stay with him, because one morning I woke to find that Judas had moved into the basement at night while I slept. He continued his behavior. Weeks later I realized that Judas had made good on his threats to get me out of the house. A letter from the HOA arrived informing me that they were going to proceed to put a lien on the house and start foreclosure procedures. I knew I had to act, but still questioned if I was doing the right thing as I drove into work that day. Jeremy Camp’s song, “Healing Hand of God”, came on through the radio. The song spoke of reaching out to grab God’s hand for help. To my surprise when I arrived at work, my student was not going to come into school that day. Another sign or door opened to me to act. I took the day off and filed a restraining order against Judas. Every time I needed act to be free of Judas, there would be Joyce Meyer, ministering to me via the TV, “Healing Hand of God,” and my student absent from school. Jenny’s words came back to me: “God helps those who help themselves.”

I was afraid but had faith that the Lord would provide. Mathew 21:22 says: And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen.” “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” He did provide for me and my kids. I was awarded the house, found a job, and rescued my house from foreclosure. As for that Godly man that I had prayed for before, he finally came into my life, but that is another story.