“Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 3:15
In today’s The Reason for Hope we hear from author and teacher Jane Baker (a.k.a. Mom), whose story is evidence that no matter how hopeless your situation seems to you, God is waiting and will give you more of Himself than He gets in return, and will help you to do the same if you let Him.
Maryann: What was life like before you were a Christian?
Jane: Before I was a Christian I went to church very little, but I wanted to know about God. I thought church was a fashion show, mostly. Until I was a teenager, I didn’t hear the message that Jesus is God, He loves me enough to die so that I can have a relationship with God, but it takes me making the decision to accept that truth, and give my life to God. Life had been good for me, mostly. I heard that message in a little mission, where the people dressed clean, but not fancy, after my parents were divorced and ugliness set in. It took a real crisis, though, for me to realize that I had to do something about Jesus.
Maryann: What factors in your life did God use to draw you to Christ? Describe the turning point when He began your relationship with Him.
Jane: One night when I was considering committing suicide over the mess my life was in, all the things I’d heard at church about Jesus came into my mind. I decided to ask Him to take my life, mess that it was, and I prayed a prayer something like, “Jesus, you know I’m in a mess. Please come into my life like the people at church say you will, and I’ll live the rest of it for you.” I put away the sleeping pills and returned to my bed, with nothing more than a feeling of peace. In the morning I told my mom the truth. I had thought she would die over what was happening with me if she found out. She didn’t. I believe the conviction and strength to do that came not from me, but from God. Within a year I was married to a pastor. God was making sure I kept my promise.
Maryann: How has knowing Jesus changed your life and the way you look at life? Is it all sunshine and roses? What has He called you to do—has He given you renewed purpose? Share any doubts you had that have been resolved.
Jane: I think Jesus knew what a hard head I am, and He let me fall clear to the bottom to make sure I’d remember what happened. Despite that, now and then, when I couldn’t feel Him or life was in a canyon, I’d wonder if I had really lost my mind to believe a man was born of a virgin and rose from the dead. However, over time, God has changed me. I am not strong by myself, but with Him I am all that I need to be. He has answered so many prayers in bigger ways than I even prayed them that I don’t consider the unbelievable about Him anymore, because it is totally believable. Fear still slips in and rules my decisions now and then, and He’s working on that (Max Lucado’s book on Fear is a great place to start if you have the same problem). He’s called me to be a mom and grandma, teach kids, write and paint – a really cool thing He does is use us for the skills and talents He’s put in us. Now when things are tough, I flop back in His hand and say, “I can’t influence this, and You are on.”
Maryann: I did a little shameless googling and noticed there are some copies of a book you published in ’92, My Father’s Love, for sale at Amazon. What would you say is the single most important thing you learned about God, from the life of the woman you wrote about—most important to a person reading this who is going or has gone through what that woman went through?
Jane: The most important thing I learned is that when a child is abused it is not their fault, not their fault, not their fault. It doesn’t matter what they think they may have contributed. It is not their fault. We said that to the women and men in Stepping Stones thousands of times, because abusers tell you it is your fault. You were too … fill in the blank. You did … fill in the blank. Whatever they said to you it is a lie from the pit of hell.
2. I learned that until you share what happened to you when it is appropriate, you haven’t really recovered.
3. I learned that people who’ve been abused as children need to learn to give opportunities to build trust in small bits.
4. I learned that forgiveness is for the person who forgives, not the forgiven. The abuser may not even admit the need to be forgiven. However, if the survivor forgives, it releases the hold the abuser has on her/his emotions and security.
5. I learned that forgiveness doesn’t mean trust or avoiding responsibility in terms of seeing that the abuser is put in a position where s/he can’t abuse anymore.
6. I learned that people abused as children want, very much, to control the rest of their lives, and have to find a balance.
I could go on and on but these are probably the most important.
Jane Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org