Repairing the Potholes

We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain this year, with five inches just last Friday.  potholes2When I was driving in the pouring rain with the grandchildren, I told them we needed a boat, as every now and then, the water splashed up 20 feet or so on either side of the van. When the sun came out the next day, we saw washed-out driveways and big pot holes where the rain had washed away parts of roads. It will take some time before all the potholes are fixed.

My life has been full of potholes. Early in my 20’s, not knowing what I was doing, I ended up pregnant by someone who wasn’t interested in me. To bring a child into the world without a family and a father was the worst thing I could have done. To me it was the worst sin in the whole world. I didn’t want it to happen and was broken-hearted. Life became so difficult, I hit rock bottom and thought, “If there really is a God, I need to know and I need help.” I couldn’t keep going on my own.

While driving, sometimes I listened to the radio. One time I heard someone saying on a talk show, “Talk to Jesus, He’s your friend.” This was something I had never heard and I was interested. Around the same time, some Christians came into the health food store I was managing, and they introduced me to a loving God and the Bible. I was thinking to purchase a cross on a chain to wear around my neck but decided on a Bible, since I loved to read and didn’t wear jewelry. Then I joined a Christian congregation and was so happy to learn more about Jesus Christ and the Bible.

I loved my job at the health food store. We had a lunch counter, and I was able to give presentations on health topics. But now that I had a child to think about, I wanted to create a family and have some time for him instead of working full-time. My son was at the babysitter’s every day, and I had reached a breaking point. When I picked him up at the end of the work day, I would be crying. I knew it was time for a change.

Thinking that I would live in a supportive and friendly environment, I  left the store and the community I loved, and moved into a mission-minded Christian community. I sorely missed the store and the life I had with supportive friends. To my surprise, I now found myself an outcast. I was told that I had to work twice as hard as everyone else, since I had no husband to support me. In order to be accepted I had to say all the right things, commit no wrongs, and follow all the rules—both spoken and unspoken. We had to wear long dresses and our hair up. If we wore pants, they were under the dress. We “swam” and rode bikes with pants under the dresses. My son was a good little boy, but the leaders didn’t like him and they told me to spank him. I didn’t want to and didn’t like it, since we grew up with spankings, but I tried to please the leaders. We could only eat two meals a day. Men and women were not to be friendly, and if you were, you were accused of being interested in getting married.

Hope came from my Bible reading and promises, and I came across a book about God’s love and acceptance. Whether my choices were  good or bad, God loved me and He forgave me when I  asked to be forgiven. But others in the community and church didn’t see it that way. As a single mother, I was even a bad influence on young people since they would see I was never married. Thinking another move would help, I went to a Christian school community. My son and I had a room with our two beds, shelves, a table, two chairs and a small table with a toaster oven. I actually had a closet, which was an improvement over a nail on the wall for a closet, that I had at the previous place. I worked full time and brought my son with me.  My father no longer sent me any money, and I didn’t have much money to buy food. There was a store on campus with a limited food supply, and I never shopped in town. Cabbage, soy beans, cornmeal and canned fruit made up our two meals that we ate in our room. I shared a bathroom with a family and washed my dishes in their bathroom sink. They didn’t flush the toilet or drain their bath water – something I had never seen.

This community had more rules than the previous place I lived: the single people ate in a dining room with prepared meals but I wasn’t allowed to be part of that group or mingle with them. I could eat almonds if I counted out eight, and other foods like raisins were measured. My bathroom neighbors told me to use only three squares of toilet paper for wiping. After living there for over a year, I found it unbearable. Living this way was too hard. I knew I was a sinner, but the  thought that I could never be good enough for anyone  and the feeling of being a failure affected me greatly and weighed me down. My biggest heartbreak was not being able to be much of a mother, since I had to work full-time.  I told a couple of friends in another state that I was leaving, with no money, no car and no place to go. One of those friends brought a small U-Haul trailer and moved my son and me to another friend’s place. A short time later, I landed an elder-care job where I was a live-in and could have my son with me and had my days free. The family accepted and loved us, and life started to improve.

When my son was ten years old,  I married, and after living in other people’s homes for eight years, we now had our own home. It was nice not to have to work, and I could concentrate on home-schooling. My greatest concern was for my husband to accept and love my son. It didn’t happen, and we had years of angst. To help survive this new heart break, I visited counselors and support groups. These  people listened to me and accepted me unconditionally, which is something I never experienced.

When my son left for college, I worked part-time with the CHIP program in Rockford, IL, directly with the staff and the creator of the program. This proved to be a dramatic life-changing experience. Not only did I gain valuable experience for my future dream job, but I also met many people and found love and acceptance. This included loving families at the local church that befriended me and welcomed me into their homes and lives.

Thanks to God, my husband, family and friends, our lives have turned out all right. My dream job of nutrition and cooking instructor came my way and occasionally I get new job openings. Our son is head of design and strategy of the East coast division of an IT company. He is happily married and has two lovely children. We see each other often, and everyone in the family now gets along. In our local church, I am an active leader and teach the adult Sabbath school and occasionally give Bible studies. My husband and I work together for the church and other projects. We have opened our home to others, especially to single mothers, and tried to help their children.

God has been with me through the mistakes and bad choices, which created potholes I never imaged would be in my life. It has taken decades to fix these potholes which only God can repair. God wanted me happy, and to believe in His power in my life, rather than living by special rules. Rules and works didn’t bring any good thing, but faith in Him has allowed the repairing of the potholes in my broken heart. Life still has its ups and downs, but my life is happier and more rewarding. Every day I am grateful for His presence in my life and I know He is willing to be there for you or any who open their hearts to him.



Repairing the Potholes — 22 Comments

  1. Jane, thank you for sharing your painful and inspiring story!

    You have been through so much that was surely very painful, and even thinking about it must hurt. But you have grown through the trials and difficulties and have "come forth as gold."

    I trust that it will inspire others who are going through hard times.

    And just maybe some of our readers may be able to see that a lot of rules do not produce Christian character - or Christians, for that matter! Too often rules make people unloving as they focus on making sure everyone keeps the rules, and that's what you seem to have experienced.

    I'm so happy that you met the living Savior who has taken the broken pieces of your life and put them together again in a most beautiful way (to use another metaphor). I have extra reasons to be happy about this, since you are such a big help on this blog. 🙂

    • Dear Jane,

      Thank you for your testimony and praise God for His love and mercy that made it possible for you to endure the many "pot-holes" of your life. I am so happy that in the end, God has richly blessed you and your family. Heart warming and inspiring for sure!

    • Hi Inge,

      Thank you so much for your support and comment. You are correct that the rules were the focus and not caring about people. I think rules have their place, but not those kinds of rules. When I was growing up, we had to clear our plates, the house had to be cleaned before Dad came home, etc. And I like rules. For my grandchildren, I say, "Grandma's house, Grandma's rules", such as sit at the table to eat, no fussing, no food in the living room, etc.

  2. What a touching testimony! Do you think your situation would have improved more quickly if you would have prayed often? That's one of the biggest mistakes we make as Christians. We live in a war zone (as we wrestle not against flesh and blood) and yet ironically we don't pray enough. It's imperative, especially nowadays, for a Christian to fast twice a week and pray frequently through out the day (in addition to the formal evening and morning prayer.) Single men and women particularly need to pray twice as much. The enemy is working actively to have them commit a mistake that has a lifelong spiritual, emotional and financial consequence--like a child out of wedlock. I am a single guy. When I see a beautiful girl that I like, I spend at least a week praying before I ask her out. That's a good formula right there to block any trap the enemy might throw your way. If you're a single girl, before you go out with a guy or even give him the answer, spend at least a week praying about it too. Prayer works. It's our only weapon.

    • Dear Newton,

      Prayer helped to keep me going and strengthened me. Most often, I have kept my mind in prayer. When making big decisions, I have prayed day and night and counseled with others. Some of us have experiences like Job...God tests our faith.

      • Good reply Jane. It seems to me that some of us see our relationship with the Lord in terms of a formula. That is the impression I got from reading Newtons comments. I get that impression when I read comments like "Single men and women particularly need to pray twice as much". It is a thinking/reasoning process in terms of making bread. The reason my bread did not rise enough is because I should have given it twice as much yeast. Well not necessary. Maybe the ambient temperature was too low. Newton is doing the right thing in his development of his relationship with the Lord.

        From reading your story I was left with the impression that the Lord lead you in those uncomfortable experiences with the self supporting groups to develop a degree of self discipline that the Lord recognized you needed. These words left me with that impression "Early in my 20′s, not knowing what I was doing, I ended up pregnant ... ". Well, you knew what you were doing, the activity was voluntary, but at the same time the Lord knew where your heart was at. In His love for you He lead you through uncomfortable circumstances that would improve your self discipline Since when has His chastising become comfortable? When we give our hearts to Him he will discipline us until we bear the fruit he needs us to bear from which He can feed his other children.

        Some of His children need and thrive in the structured environment provided by the self supporting institutions. Only He can read the minds and hearts of the specific child that has reached for Him out of the His or Her pothole to know what "medicine" that child needs to take.

        I have a daughter living with me now, raising a two-year-old son who also came along in her very late twenties from an experience in which she knew what she was doing. And as a widowed (15 years now) father I am struggling with the mix of demonstrating love and discipline for my daughter and my grandson. Note that I could have written "... demonstrating love and discipline for her and her son." Notice the ambivalence in my heart? You see, the Lord is putting me through a set of classes/disciplinary actions to bear some fruit that He knows I need to produce even though right now I feel clueless.

        Thank you very much Jane for sharing your life story with us.

        • Hello Neven,

          Thanks for the comment. I wrote "Early in my 20′s, not knowing what I was doing, I ended up pregnant ... ". You wrote: Well, you knew what you were doing, the activity was voluntary" .

          Yes, I voluntarily opened the door and let the man into my apartment at 4 AM.

          There are parts of my story I didn't share and perhaps this tiny tidbit may help you understand. After graduating from high school, I left home at age 17, due to continued emotional and physical abuse from my parents. My dad beat me several times under the influence of alcohol and valium. My mother drank too. We didn't have normal conversations about anything and the whole family of eight siblings and parents didn't care or show love.

          The man I let in my apartment was much older; I hardly knew the man; he owned the health food store I managed; he was divorced with a child; he was living with a woman and had two children with her. What I didn't know was that he was using me and I learned much later that he was a big time womanizer with many relationships and sexual encounters outside of his current one.

          I didn't see how much I had lost my way in life. Proper relationships with men was something I didn't have a clue about. I knew little about sex, and when a woman can get pregnant, and I knew I didn't want to get pregnant. When I found out I was pregnant six weeks later, the man said he didn't want anything to do with me and don't tell anyone he was the father.

          So I hope you get a little insight to what I wrote "not knowing what I was doing, I ended up pregnant".

        • Hello Neven,

          You wrote, "Some of His children need and thrive in the structured environment provided by the self supporting institutions".

          By nature, I am structured and don't need it from the outside.

          There were good things such as the lovely worships and song times. Sometimes we did group hikes on Sabbath and the men would help with my son.

          But the general conditions were bad. The room I had in the first location didn't have much heat and mold grew on any plastic in the room. A nail on the wall was my closet. I asked the leaders for a rug and finally received one a short time before I left. Our meals were in another house so we had to hike up and down a big hill for the two meals and there wasn't ever a choice about what to eat. We received a small $10 stipend and it was a good thing my father was sending me money. The highest stipend was $50. The leaders lived under much better conditions.

          I think the leaders should not have accepted me as a worker since I had a child and the conditions were not appropriate.

    • Newton, I think there is a difference between living a prayerful life which I think Jane had and praying constantly thinking that in doing so it will cause an answer to come more quickly. I am thinking here of the text that says, "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James. 5:16 NKJV). The word "fervent" is translated from the Greek "energeo" from which we get the word energy. It isn't talking about long drawn out prayers with profuse amounts of sweat dropping off the person's brow or numerous repetitions that some people think has to be done for Jesus to hear us. James uses the prayer of Elijah as an example of what he is talking about and we could use the simple prayer of Peter when sinking, "Lord, save me!" (Matt. 14:30 NKJV) or the one that the tax collector prayed, "God, be merciful to me a sinner! (Lk. 18:13 NKJV) as examples. Besides, the Holy Spirit is involved in our prayers as we pray them (Rom 8:26).

      I think we also need to remember that there were times when even though a person prayed several times their prayer wasn't answered - Jesus (Mat 26:36-44) and Paul (2 Cor 12:8-9). There simply are things we don't understand and we can't pull the curtain back and see all the behind-the-scenes work that is being done. Daniel was privileged to know some of it along with some of the problems with answering prayer (Dan 10:12-13).

  3. Indeed everyone has potholes in his/her life but someone we allow to repair them is what matters most. Some will pretend to help you repair them but sooner or later you will discover that they are deepening them the more. Therefore commit all your problems to Jesus Christ who will repair your potholes and give you solutions to your problems just as our sister Jane did.

  4. What a story! Thanks for this testimony. The Lord knew where He wanted you and what experiences He wanted you to have so you could share them with all of us so we could learn from them and to believe that our Father works everything out for the good of us who love Him and wait on Him. God bless you. Thanks again.

  5. Dear Jane,

    Thank you so much for posting your testimony. Like, you, we have all suffered with various potholes in our lives. Though they have taken various forms, I am sure that if we are honest with ourselves, we have all hit our "rock bottoms" and some of us may still be reeling from the effects of the choices that we made in our former days. Having said that, thank God for His grace and mercy. Thank God for never giving up on us, and for extending His providence to sinful children. In spite of our best efforts, we still fall short of the glory of God. Only by His loving hands can we truly find joy unspeakable. I am so happy that you finally found yours. I am so thankful that amidst all of the chaos and transition, you were obediently led to the Adventist Church and more importantly, listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Praise God for you. Continue to share your powerful message of redemption with the world and allow the Lord to continue using you in whatever you do.

    Your sister in Christ,

  6. Sis. Jane, Thank you, thank you, thank you. What an inspiration to start my day. You really prove as the saying goes; it's not where you start, it's where you end. This has given hope to many people who might think otherwise. May God continue to richly bless you and your family.

  7. Appreciate this blog. Have been going through a lot myself lately, and this opened my eyes to the 'cure' for my ills.
    Thank you.

  8. Jane, amazing example of how God brings peace into our lives though trials faithfully endured, which gives us the joy of salvation. It was clear from your story, even without saying it, that much praying attended your life. There could be no such victory without it. Victory is not an accident, but comes by grace through faith. (I realize you don't feel fully victorious yet, and press forward still to our high calling with all God's faithful) Circumstances do not define our faith, but faith endures all circumstances.

    Only eternity will reveal to each of us the need for the potholes we encountered along the way. God knows what each of us requires to lead us to become perfectly in step with Jesus, yoked together with Him. We can place our complete trust in our heavenly Father no matter what prevails in our lives.

  9. Hi Jane, what an inspiring experience you went through. I would call you a Hero in a time of crisis.
    Standing on the promises contained in the Bible is what made you hero. Like David, he fought the bear and the lion and goliath. Hero are those who take God at His word. Yes, David had his own flaws like anybody else, but was called, 'a man after God's own heart' He dId not trust to himself, but relied upon God and was guided by His Spirit. He would submit to God when he sinned.
    Heroes are men amd women who make honest confession when walked in the desires of flesh.
    Read PK p 148. will find an encoragement that the Loard has hah heroes through all ages.
    This, what Jane went through, indeed should give us courage to hold on to our Saviour no matter what we go through. Even the Bible tells us that those who persevere till the end the shall be save. Jane was able to withstand the fiery furnace and as Inge said, she came out purified gold.
    Thanks be to our Lord who does not fail us. His promises are ever sure, His desire is to see us lead a life acceptable to Him. He is ever ready to Shepherd our lives and mould them according to His likeness when we surrender our will to Him.
    Once more, thanks Jane for sharing your life's experience.

  10. Jane, thanks for sharing your story. It´s independent of time and space. Were your first two "christian" communities an SDA-thing? Sounds Amish.

    God be with you and your family,

    Omar Torfason

  11. Thank you so much, i find myself in the very same position you were in then, and this is really needed and appreciated. Im seeing that when I hold on to Christ a better future is sure, however long it'll take. Thank you so much, God has already fixed a few potholes, more still are visible on the way, but i will look back and be reminded about how far ive come. Thank you for your testimony, its strengthening. 🙂

  12. Hi Jane
    Thank you for sharing your story. It goes to show that when man gives up on you God will never give you up or leave you alone.

  13. [Moderator's note: Please use full name]

    This is a powerful testimony! Why are so many people focusing on judging this brave woman instead of embracing the essence of it all? So disappointing to see this behavior constantly within our churches. If you constantly need to point out lack of reformation in others lives I (in my humble opinion) consider you may be lacking true revival.


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