Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My journey (LONG POST ALERT!)

Thank you, everyone, for the emails. I was completely blessed by them. I cannot tell you how much of an encouragement it is to me to know that there are others out there who are on the same road I was/am on. It gives me strength to know I am not alone!

First off, let me just say that I am always open to questions from anyone! Please don't feel like you will offend me by asking about my lifestyle. I love to share about this amazing journey God is taking me on. When I was starting out towards the lifestyle I lead now I would have loved to have someone to ask questions too. So, please, feel free to email me any time!

I had one reader ask me if I wouldn't mind sharing how I got to where I am now. I can't believe I've never thought of writing that out before! Great idea! My story is not one of joyfully embracing God's path for me. Although I wish I could say it was. Mine is a story of rebellion and stubbornness that God was patient enough to put up with.

A little background first, I became a Christian while I was in high school but really started growing in my relationship with Him when I went to college. God led me to an amazing campus ministry and a group of people who encouraged me and taught me so much about God.

The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college was really pivotal in the convictions that I hold now. I was hired to work as a camp counselor at a christian summer camp in the-middle-of-no-where, Alabama. What an amazing summer! First of all it is where I met my husband! (But that is a whole other story) While working at the camp there was a family there that offered to hold weekly Bible studies for any of the counselors that were interested. Those Bible studies turned out to be the meat that this milk-fed child needed! I was challenged to think outside of what others were telling me and my preconceived notions of what a christian was and really dig into the Word and see what it had to say for myself. During that summer I became convicted to cover my head during times of prayer from reading 1 Corinthians 11. My first step into weirdness, as I like to say! When the summer was over I headed back to college. And I have to admit I felt completely at war with myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my new conviction that no one else (at least not that I knew of) seemed to share. There were many times I tried to talk myself out of it but not only was I still feeling completely convicted about it...I was actually starting to feel convicted to start covering my head all the time! Oh boy, I really fought that one! But it seemed to me that there were times when I felt I needed to pray but didn't because I didn't have anything to cover my head with. Also, the Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing" and how could I do that without covering all the time? But, as I said I fought it hard. I was not wanting to draw attention to myself in that way.

At the end of my junior year of college my husband and I were married. He was completely supportive of me covering my head. What a blessing! Our next venture into weirdness was choosing not to use birth control, another very unusual thing that made us stick out. And it didn't take long for people to realize that we weren't using birth control because I got pregnant 2 months after we were married. We got a lot of mixed reactions from people about this. Some people didn't care and others thought we were being pretty irresponsible. I still had a year of college left. My husband was working a minimum wage job. But our convictions were so strong there is no way we could go against them. John and I both felt that when we became christians we gave our entire lives to the Lord. We agreed to trust Him with everything. So we felt like this was an area of our life that we needed to give Him control over. Plus, children are a blessing! (psalm 127) We were ready!

As we dug more and more into the Bible our way of life continued to change. We got rid of our T.V., we began listening to only christian music, etc. About 6 months after our daughter was born we received a phone call from the same family who had led our Bible studies back in Alabama. They were moving to Arkansas to attend a Mennonite church there. They invited us to come down and visit them. John went down for a weekend by himself the first time (I was out of town). He called me on his drive home and told me how much he loved it and how this church believed the same way we did and how great he thought it was. When I got back into town we drove down as a family to visit again. (Just to clarify- at this point in time I was not wearing dresses or covering full time yet.) I felt SO awkward on our first visit!! I thought for sure everyone thought I was some kind of heathen who they needed to have pity on. Looking back now, I think I was really at war with myself. In my heart I knew what God was telling me, what He had been trying to tell me for the past year and a half. And so to be around people who were living that way was a big slap in the face. My husband ate it up though. He felt very much at home and within 2 months of us driving down to visit several times he decided we needed to move there.

Now, you can ask anyone who I was good friends with at that time, I was not excited to go. In fact, I was terrified. What was going to happen? Was John going to start dressing like them? What was that going to do to our marriage? Not to mention what if I started dressing like them? What would my family and friends think? Could I handle being stared at all the time? All of these questions were in the back of my mind even though I tried to play the part of the good, submissive wife.

The first two months of living in Arkansas were probably some of the hardest of my life. The church members were great. They made us feel welcome and knew we were seeking answers and were sensitive to that. But a war was raging so strongly inside me that I knew I couldn't avoid God any more. It was time to decide if I was going to obey or disobey, no more running away. The thought of choosing to walk away from God made me sick to my stomach. How could I? But the thought of obeying Him was equally as terrifying to me at the time. I was 22 years old. One year ago I had a completely different life planned out for myself and family. Could I really lay that all down?

One of the ladies gave me an article to read (of course, I can't remember the name of it now but if anyone is interested, let me know and I will try to find it!) about the christian woman's veiling. It was a turning point for me. It explained the scripture and reasoning so well that I told my husband I was going to wear a dress and covering for one week and see how it went. Ladies, that week changed my life. I felt so free and peaceful. I could literally feel the division between me and God healed. And when i say that I don't want anyone to think that I mean it was the dress/headcovering that did it. It was the obedience to his command that healed our division. I had been stubborn and rebellious. I had cared more about what others thought then what God thought. So from that week on I've been wearing head coverings and dresses.

I haven't regretted it. Not one single day. There was a lot of awkwardness at first. Facing my friends and family for the first time, who, while were a little freaked out at first, are all now very supportive. Getting used to the stares. Answering questions that I wasn't really ready to answer yet. But God has been so loving and so kind to me.

Of course there is more to it then just the headcovering and the dresses. Those were the baby steps for us. God has taught us so much since then. But, that issue seems to be the one that most women struggle with in the beginning.

Since then we have moved to Georgia to a new church and continued to grow in knowledge and understanding.

One thing I want to make crystal clear is that wearing a dress and a headcovering is not going to save anyone. Those acts by themselves are just acts. God says, "If you love me, keep my commandments" John 14:15 . It is out of love for Him that I wear these things not because I feel they save my soul. The only things that can do that is the blood of Jesus Christ.

I really hope that this post makes sense and that it is coming out with the tone I intend it to. I have never actually written out my story before so I am kind of thinking as I go! I don't want to come across as judgmental or with a "high and mighty" attitude. I simply want to share my story so that others who might be going through something similar might be encouraged.
If I have said anything in this post that you have questions about please let me know. I am not perfect. And I don't pretend to have things all figured out. God, in His goodness, is constantly teaching me.

If you have read all the way to the! I'm sorry this post wound up so long. I probably rambled on about a lot of things I didn't need to. But it is hard to know what to share and what not to share!

May God bless you!


Marie said...

Thanks for sharing your heart Amanda. I had no idea at the time that you had such inner turmoil about these things and I'm sure it was intensely difficult to deal with that when no one around you had the same convictions. I've seen you "settle into yourself " these last few years and it's been really neat to be your friend while that happened.

I know you and I have different interpretations when it comes to head coverings and modesty and we have talked them to death, but I will always support you and am so incredibly grateful to you for your patience and forgiveness while I was trying to accept this stuff. I love you!

simply His home said...

Thank you Amanda, for sharing! It's nice to know that there are other woman who have struggled with the things I am struggling with now! Blessings to you!

Paprika said...

Amanda, I see in you a heart that is surrendered to the Lord because you genuinely believe that obedience to Him is what's BEST! God looks at the heart and I think He LOVES your willingness to obey despite awkwardness and sacrifice. Sure love you!

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing this! Your story is encouraging. It is awesome to see your love for the Lord. I love it when I can see God shining through others and I aspire to be like that too. :-)