May 8, 2013 by Kara Nichols
There was a period of about 4 years in my twenties/thirties that I was not a Christian. I stopped going to church. I picked up some bad habits and made some poor lifestyle choices. I identified with agnosticism. I studied a bit of Buddhism. I felt bad for Christians, who were, in my mind, ignorant and silly to believe in a God who loved them enough to die for them.
It’s funny, in a sad way, how opposed to Christianity I became. It was like nails on the chalk board to talk to family members who would gush about what God was doing in their life. Growing up in a house of a Baptist pastor, I attended a lot of church growing up. I knew all of the stories, all of the lessons, and even the songs. Sure, I vaguely remember asking God to be my savior when I was about 6 but I don’t think it counts in my case.
I had worked in a number of Christian organizations throughout the years, and was still at a Christian job when I was undergoing this untying of my spirit – letting go of God and embracing nothing in particular. It was awkward and I quit. I didn’t want to feel like I had to sneak around with my new beliefs and at the same time I didn’t want to be outed as a fraud.
The year was 2009. I had my whole life planned out. I’d be a writer full-time, I’d marry Andy, and we’d live happily ever after. And then something happened. I am not going to tell you here, because my nieces and nephews could be reading this and there are somethings that I’d rather explain to them in person one day when they are older.
Basically something horrible happened and I ended up in the psychiatric ward. When I got out, Andy broke off our engagement and I had to find a new place to live, plus I was out of work. Everything I had worked for the last 10 years had been flushed down the toilet. To say that I was devastated is an understatement. Everything I wanted was ripped away and I was left feeling very vulnerable. I was experiencing a quarter life crisis.
In need of a change as well as a place to stay, I moved to Lynchburg, Virginia. I felt numb, I was just going through the motions. There was no energy or hope in my heart. One of my hardest days was when the anxiety got so bad I crawled in my parents bed and I let them pray over me and read verses to me. Something deep inside of me was unlocking.
One day an old familiar song kept coming to mind. It’s a praise song that I loved in years past. “He’ll Take the Pain Away” by Kirk Franklin. I went to iTunes and downloaded it. And then I played it dozens of times while weeping on my bed. I realized that what I needed, after all I had been through, was Jesus.
It had been so long since I had prayed that I wasn’t sure how to do it. I started with something like, “Hi God, It’s me, Kara. It’s been awhile.” And then I realized what I needed was salvation, a fresh start, a new life altogether. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and invited him to live in my heart. I think it was pretty immediate that I felt a sense of calm wash over me!
I started attending a church, and I could stand talking about spiritual things, which beforehand was off limits because of some of the content of my manic episodes. My life didn’t get better over night. I had to learn how to forgive myself and others for the pain I went through.
Now, in 2013 I am single, out of work, and I live in my parents’ basement. Not exactly the life I planned for. To me, it’s a miracle. I’ve heard the saying that if you “fail to plan you plan to fail.” But I could not have planned how the circumstances transpired. I see how sweetly God has been taking me on a journey with him.
I want you to stop feeling sorry for me, if you do. I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself. I’m not living with my eyes focused on the rear view mirror – I’m looking forward to whatever may come, as long as I get to do it with Jesus it’s fine with me. And then there’s the joy of heaven!
And I think of Jesus, when He had to really trust God with his circumstances. I see Jesus sitting in the garden asking his Father to let the plans change so he wouldn’t have to die on the cross and bear my sin, so he wouldn’t be separated from the Father.
Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”