Time For Healing Begins...

He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. 
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
Matthew 12:20 (New Living Translation)



I returned back to Ontario in the Fall of '93. My parents were renting a home in Alexandria ON and I moved in with them. The little town is quiet and peaceful and the people are very nice. There are a few churches in the little town but no Pentecostal church. The church that my brother and sister-in-law were attending was called Alexandria Alliance. Again; beautiful people, beautiful spirit of worship, and all the while I am still confused and to a big degree, running scared. Comfortable and yet not comfortable. A part of me is scared of going to hell because I am not attending a UPC church and the other part of me is confused because, while I am sitting and worshiping with these sincere folks, I just don't see what my indoctrination has told me; that these people are not saved.

I was settling in very nicely, when my brother decided to start a Southern Gospel trio. This trio would consist of my brother ~Dan, his wife ~Sylvie, and myself ~Paula. We were known simply as; The Ryan Trio. We sang in our local church, traveled to sing at other local churches, went a few times down East to the Marin-times, and eventually, with the help and encouragement of our parents, produced a cassette. All this was good for me, the practices, the traveling, meeting new people; singing became my outlet. I can tell you this; even when the wick of your candle is but a mere flicker, God in His good grace can still use you for His ultimate purpose and glory.

Through a series of events my parents and I started attending a UPC church in Cornwall ON. Again the people were very nice and we settled in nicely. And for now the hell bound feelings were gone but the feelings of not being able to live up to standard still plagued my mind. Soon after my brother and his wife started attending with us and I can assure you my mum was a happy camper so to speak. All her children were back "in the church". This was very important for my mum.

As a side note; may I share here, that I find it very sad the needless tears that have been shed by parents, especially mums, who live with the UPC indoctrination that their kids are hell bound simply because they do not attend a UPC church. They may well be attending another church and on fire for the Lord, but because they are not attending a UPC church, they are hell bound. I can remember many occasions when some of my mum's sisters would come up to visit. They would be sitting around the table talking, reminiscing of days gone by, when soon the tears would begin to flow. They would get talking of their "unsaved children" and how they pleaded with the Lord to save them. What that really meant was; bring them back into the "right church" a UPC church so they would not be lost for all eternity. I remember this one occasion when one of the sisters got to telling of when they moved into this little town in New Brunswick, that there were no UPC churches around but felt that her children should go to Sunday School. She had no car and the only church within walking distance for the children was a Baptist church. And so the children started attending Sunday school at the little Baptist church down the road. Though these children grew up to love and serve the Lord, one even becoming a minister, this was not the point, in the eyes of the UPC, these children were unsaved and hell bound. The tears were streaming down my aunt's face as she made her way up the stairs declaring as she went; "If I had it to do all over again; I would keep my children home, I would not send them to another church". How sad for my aunts and my mum; to shed needless tears, for hearts to break, all because the UPC church had established in them a fear for their children's salvation based on the mere fact that they weren't in "the church".

I quickly became friends with another single lady from the church and the two of us decided that we would travel down to St John NB for the Singles Retreat. We arrived in St. John and we met up with a lot of people that we both knew. I was still nervous being around crowds and keep in mind, I am still functioning in that "shut down" mode. Not allowing people to get too close and only being around those with whom I felt "safe".

The evening services were filled with high energy, the worship was awesome, and the altar times were powerful. But to me, I felt like I was the person looking in. I felt like there was this high fence that went on forever with no opening in sight. So no matter how much I wanted to be on the other side of that fence I couldn't find an entry point in.

The day sessions were also amazing and I especially enjoyed the teachings of Sis. Ruth Ann Kerr. In this one particular session, towards the end, she gave us each a blank piece of paper with the following instructions. We were to draw on this piece of paper how we saw ourselves. We were not to put our names on them and we were to hand them back to her at the end of the next secession. Well here is a description of what I drew on how I saw myself...

In the lower right hand corner of the paper I drew a heart that was broken. I then drew a chain with a lock around that heart, to which I placed that chained broken heart into a box with yet another lock. In the upper left hand corner of the paper, as small as I could, I wrote the name, GOD. While the rest of the paper contained the word; CHRISTIAN written all over it in various sizes.

At the end of the second secession, when the papers were being handed in, I held onto mine. Somehow I felt that I needed to hand this to Sis Kerr myself and I didn't care that she would know the person behind the drawing. I guess in a way, it was a cry for help. I handed the paper to her and she took one look and then said the following words to me that I will never forget. Taking me by the hand, she looked at me and said; "I know just what you are going through, and the miracle in all of this is, that you are still here. I know of too many who would have taken their lives, but you are still here. That night when the altar call was given, Sis Kerr came down off the platform and walked me to the altar. Did all the pain and memories go away in that one night? No. But the healing process had begun. And I can assure you in the days to come, there would be set backs. But God continued to be faithful, even with the walls that I had built all around me.

Returning back home in Ontario the Trio was scheduled to sing at a little country church. During the concert I happen to notice a young man, who seemed to be on fire for the Lord. I loved his worship and his enthusiasm for the Lord. After the concert he came and spoke with me and a short time after that he called upon me to go out for coffee and I agreed. The encounter was very pleasant and it seemed things might be looking good in my favor, though I was still keeping my heart closed off to any emotional attachments.

It was the month of November and the Trio was asked to sing at a dinner held by the Business Men's Christian Fellowship. Once there I was asked to share my testimony of how God had healed my body as a child, ( you can find this back in my second post titled; This Is My Story; From Birth to Five Years) as well I was then asked if I would pray with those who wanted prayer at the end of the service. Remember;  though you may be scarred from the battle, God can and will use you for His purpose and glory.

Now I must tell you that when I arrived at the restaurant where this event was being held, my brother was waiting for me outside. When I did arrive he wanted to let me know that the young man I met was there with his two children and that the young boy, about 5 years old, had been in a fire and was completely disfigured. His little face, head, arms, hands, legs,feet, and back were scarred for a fire he had been in when he was 17 months old. I sat with the family that night and I guess from so many years being in hospital myself, I was not frightened away by the sight of this little boy. Matter a fact I fell in love with this little boy and his sister. And when I saw the interactions with their dad, my thought process was, if this man can love a little boy who once was physically perfect but who now is badly scarred, then I know he can love me...or so I thought.

We started dating and things were going really well. I really loved his kids and soon we were talking marriage. We became engaged on my birthday and began planing a wedding for October 11, 1996. This was also exciting for me as October the 11th was my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Our wedding plans were going to include my parents renewing their wedding vows. All was going great and I was happy. But one thing was still not yet known, my hidden secrets of pain. And I was still very broken and very insecure about myself.

It wasn't very long and things began to change. My fiance was becoming more and more controlling and possessive. He was also becoming emotionally abusive as well. When the Trio would go out to sing and if anyone, especially a man, came up to me after to shake my hand or to talk, I would get questioned later on my actions. There is a lot that I could say here but suffice it to say; that besides the emotional abuse, he was putting pressure on my to cross lines I was not yet ready to cross. My brother tried talking to him, my dad tried talking to him, but in his mind a marriage was 90/10, he being the 90.

There were many red flags going off but I was ignoring them. I felt like a failure. To break this engagement would mean, not one broken engagement, but three. I felt like there was something wrong with me, that for some reason I could not make a relationship work. So in spite of all the red flags I continued in the relationship knowing it wasn't going to improve. All the while not saying a whole lot to anyone of what was happening.

It was one week to the wedding when I got the usual 4am phone call from my fiance. Again it was a lot of the same old things, a lot of badgering. He wanted more children and we had been to both my doctor and his and they both said that because of my Spina Bifida, becoming pregnant would be risky to, not just the baby's life, but also mine. I was not willing to take that risk and this became an issue between us. By the time I got off the phone I had told him that I was going to talk to my parents.

I got my mum and we went into my dad's bedroom. I sat on the edge of the bed and told them what was happening. The room was dark but soon I felt something warm running down my arm and it wasn't just my tears. My mum turned the light on and I was having a nose bleed, and this wasn't the first time for this. My nerves were finished. Not only was I having nose bleeds but when I would comb or brush my hair, my hair was falling out. When I got done talking to my parents they told me that they would support me in whatever decision I would make. I remember my dad saying that; you don't marry someone to change them, you marry them to love and grow with them.

I called my fiance back and asked him to come down to the house and I told him to leave the children at home. When he arrived we initially went downstairs of my parents home. As we sat downstairs I told him that I had three fears about going ahead with the idea of marriage to him. The following were the three fears along with his answers:

-Fear number 1; That before the ink was dry he would eventually have me cut off from my family and friends. He kept silent.

-Fear number 2; That before the ink was dry he would require of me to give up what I enjoyed the most, singing. Once again he kept silent.

-Fear number 3; I feared what life would really be like living with him. To this he spoke and asked me if I thought I could find any better.

Well...we joined my parents, my brother and his wife upstairs and that is when I let him know that everything was off and just how much he owed my folks, as up to this point he had not offered a cent. Where I had made all the arrangements up to that point I figured it was only right that he notify the necessary people to let them know things were off. What was very interesting in the week following the break up was when I went to the post office. To my surprise a wedding reply was in the mail. At this point to my knowledge all the replies had come in. When I got home and opened it, with my mum by my side, there was a note telling me that I had done the right thing. They said that God had answered their prayers. They said that this man had ruined one lady's life and he had no respect for his mother, even though he called himself a "Christian". To this day I have no idea who sent me that note.

Well as you can imagine all of this only added to the internal pain that I was keeping inside. If I was feeling inadequate or like a failure before this, I was really feeling it now. On top of the break up; I was admitted to the hospital to have a tubal. Where my doctor had advised against pregnancy; I decided just to go ahead with surgery. I thought I was ready for this as I had known ever since I was about six years old that I could not have children of my own, that my option in life was to adopt, and I had no problems with that. But when it came right down to it I was not ready. For a few years after surgery I didn't do so well at baby dedications, I usually got up and walked out.

I built my walls thinker and higher around me. Though I continued to serve the Lord I felt so far away from Him. I cried a lot. And every now and then I could feel myself "slipping" as I called it. Like a hole was going to swallow me up. I remember visiting with a friend, she was sick and lying in her bed. On her wall she had this mural of a dirt road going through the forest and it looked like it went on forever. Sometimes that's how I felt, like I was going down and endless dirt road. I felt like my candle was almost spent. God's Word says: " He (God) will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle". Something just kept me going back to Him. Sometimes I felt like Job, I just wanted to die. I would pray asking the Lord to take me home with Him. As many times as the thought would cross my mind to throw in the towel, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. But there would come a point when it would be close...

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:3,4



Comments

  1. Enjoying your story of faith, hope and deliverance, Paula. We are lights on a hill, and our Light is not hidden. God Bless.

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