It's been a while since I've been so candid about this part of my life -- sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago, like I was a different person (and believe me, I was!). Other times, it's so close I can smell and feel the environment that I wish would stay "long long ago."
Without going into too much detail, I will paraphrase this story of my past by saying:
A long time ago, I lived with someone who was very sick. This person didn't love himself or anyone else and lived his life as such. Holidays were always a reason to abuse a variety of substances, and St. Patrick's day was a week long "event" due to this persons Irish ancestry. I could never prepare myself for what would happen. It was like a Mac Truck out of control.
One year, there was a baby coming! My pregnancy had been very stressful. Living with someone who had gotten so very sick, it seemed as if each day was like that out of control truck. With a little boy to take care of as well, I was always afraid of the coming doom and never felt safe.
I knew nothing of Jesus at this time.
March was about surviving. It was about laying low, trying to do everything right. Easter was only different because maybe we went to a family dinner. No gifts, no decorations, no money.
I labored and delivered alone, that March. Shortly after, I gathered my young children and a few belongings and tried to escape. After a year of hell and with the help of my sister, I was finally free.
I knew nothing of redemption at this time.
Now, bring your mind forward in time. Many years forward. All you really have to do is blink.
I have a life that is, by any standard, perfect. I live with someone who loves me, very much. I am encouraged in all of my endeavors, supported by strong hands and embraced each day by kind and understanding arms.
That baby just turned 14. She is funny, artistic, intelligent...and safe. Our lives are like a huge, palatial yacht on calm seas. I have more than all I could ask for or imagine. All because of someone, many years ago, who was willing to pay the penalty for sin.
I know Jesus now. I know redemption. I know without a doubt that He had ME specifically in mind. Twelve years ago, when I really decided that I couldn't "do" life without Jesus, I knew what people were saying about a "personal relationship." I understood in my head that that was possible. It took a lot longer to feel it in my heart.
March has always been hard. This year, Easter - the celebration of Jesus redemption, is here very early. In March. This year, I play a small part in a theatrical portrayal of Jesus life. I play - His mother. I watch as he is mocked and crucified, then laid to rest in the tomb. I rejoice at finding the empty tomb three days later.
I expected it would not be hard to muster tears of sorrow for my role as Mary Mother of Jesus. That little boy I went through hell to protect 14 years ago, hasn't been my best friend of late. He will soon be leaving for the military and will not likely say goodbye.
What I didn't expect were the overflowing tears of gratitude for a God that Redeems. All things are redeemed through Christ. Even something so small in the grand scheme of the Universe, as how I feel about the month of March.