Give God a Month—Part One
Beautiful Younger Soul,
Have you ever felt like God is not listening? Have you ever felt as if you doubt His existence? Have you ever felt like your beliefs are just a product of what your parents taught you to believe? If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, then you’re not alone.
I was raised in a Christian home with a loving family. We went to church on Thursdays and Sundays and throughout the week, we would have small groups at home. When I was 13 years old, God called my Dad to the ministry and he became a pastor. All I knew growing up was church and I grew up “believing” that Jesus was my Saviour. However, all that began to change when I was about 18 years old. The summer of 2008 changed my life forever.
My family and I lived in the United States and in June 2008, we had to return to Mexico to renew our visas. For reasons that are too long to explain and don’t add to this story, we were denied the entry back home. I had just graduated high school and I had two scholarships to attend the college/university of my choice. I had applied to a university in California and I was accepted, but I couldn’t go back. We were in Mexico and all I kept thinking was “Why God, Why? Why us? What did we do wrong? Were we a bad pastoral family? Didn’t we serve You? Haven’t we been good?” These and other questions ran through my mind as I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to be in Mexico. I wanted to go back to my life. Why was this happening to us?
Fast forward to August/September 2008. A regional overseer in Canada heard about our situation and about my family. They needed a pastor for their local church in Ottawa, Canada. They extended an invitation for us to be the new pastoral family and we agreed. In October 2008, we fly to Ottawa, Canada to start a new life, or at least that’s what we thought.
I won’t go in detailed but within months of our arrival to Canada, we realized that all the things that the regional overseers told us about the church and the things that they promised were lies. We were devastated and hurt. We confronted them and they washed their hands and said they didn’t want anything to do with us. I kept wondering, “Why God, why? Why us? Don’t we deserve better than this? We're good people. Why us?” In my head, I couldn’t understand how “church leaders” could do such things.
I tried to validate my scholarships in Canada but I couldn’t and I lost them. I tried to enroll in a college but due to my status, I couldn’t enroll. I had no friends. I couldn’t go to school. I hated Canada. I hated the snow. I hated the food. I hated everything. I didn’t want to stay, so I tried going back to the States TWICE in 2009 and both times, I was denied. Regardless of the circumstances, my parents stayed faithful to God. I admired them but deep down in my heart, my doubt grew. As our life in Canada became harder, my heart got harder as well.
In July 2010, my family and I applied to stay permanently here in Canada. We were told the process was long and it would take time for us to get a response. During the time, we could work but it was hard to start life in a new place, especially when you hate the place. In November 2010, I found a job as a physiotherapy assistant in retirement homes helping the elderly do their exercises or walking with them. I finally had a purpose. However, things changed again on June 2011 when we were denied our application. I was devastated again and the same questions kept running through my head but now I thought God was cruel. My heart got harder. Since I was old enough, I could apply on my own and I applied for an appeal on July 2011. In January 2012, I was denied my appeal. Once again, I was devastated but at this point, I was angry, bitter, and frustrated. The thoughts that were running through my mind were “Is there really a God? If there is a God, why is He treating us this way? Why is He so cruel to us? Haven’t we been good? Haven’t we served Him?” My heart got harder with each refusal.
In April 2012, I applied one more time to stay in Canada. At this point, things were getting harder. I was working five jobs and not even working 40 hours. I had immigration fees and lawyer fees and I still had to be able to survive. I was frustrated with my situation. I kept thinking, “It shouldn’t have to be this hard! Why me?”
As the year progressed, my thoughts turned into loud and angry arguments with my parents. I didn’t want to go to church anymore. I only went because I loved for my parents. On Sundays, I would find any excuse not to go. I began to pick fights with my Dad so I wouldn’t have to go to church. My poor Mom once said to me that she never expected me to react as I was reacting. I never gave her troubled as a teenager and at that point I was unrecognizable. I was angry, bitter and frustrated and I didn’t care to hide it anymore. One day in October 2012, I was arguing with my parents and I blurted out, “I don’t believe in God anymore! How could I believe in a God that is so cruel? You never gave me a choice to believe. You took me to church but I was never given a choice. Now, I want to choose and I choose not to believe. If ‘your God’ is real, where is He? Tell me. Where?” I will never forget my Mom’s face. I knew I had gone too far and I hurt her. Now, all my thoughts were out in the open and she knew that she had to do something. She knew my heart had turned into a heart of stone.
After that argument, my Mom would try to talk to me but I was so angry, bitter and frustrated that everything she said to me would just make me fight with her. After all, she already knew how I felt, so I didn't hide my thoughts.
My Mom never stopped praying for me, she prayed harder. She kept asking God to guide her so she could help me. In January 2013, after an argument with my parents, my Mom turned to me and said, “We don’t want to argue with you anymore. I spoke with your Dad and you don’t have to go to church with us anymore. However, I want you to give God one month.” When she said I didn’t have to go to church anymore, she had all my attention. I asked her what she meant by “giving God a month.” She said, "We will attend an Anglophone church for a month and if after a month you’re unhappy and nothing changes; we will never ask you to go to church again”. I made all the calculations in my head and realized that in a month, I had to endure about six hours in a church. Since the church was in English, I figured we wouldn’t last there too long. I figured I could “waste” six hours of my life, please my Mom one last time, and at the same time, get her off my case. I agreed.
January 20, 2013, I find myself sitting on the last row and by the door at Lifecentre. I didn’t care much about the songs or anything but then the sermon started. I always say that God has a great sense of humour. The church was going through a series called “Waiting Room,” how appropriate. As I’m sitting there listening to the sermon, I was so angry that I began to have an argument in my head with the Pastor. The truth is that I was fighting with God. When I get angry, I cry and I cry ugly. My Mom turned to me and asked, “Are you OK?” to which I responded, “I don’t want to talk about it.” As I sat there, the Pastor said that to receive we must give. I thought, “Didn’t we give enough already? Should I be able to receive now something good?” I sat through the 45 minutes listening to the sermon, I was so angry that I wanted to run but something propelled me to stay. When it was over, I walked out of there as fast as I could. I was angry. My Mom finally broke the silence and asked, “Are we coming back again?” to which I responded, “Yes.” Why did I want to go back, you might be wondering. Well, I wanted to hear what that Pastor would say and I had a deal to keep. The next Sunday, I was back again at church arguing with God in my head and crying in anger and frustration. My Mom asked me the same question at the end of the service “Are we coming back again?” and my answer was “Yes”. This was the case each week. At the end of the fourth week, I was still fighting in my head and bitterly crying in anger and frustration. My Mom asked again, “Are we coming back again?” and my answered was “YES.” By this time, there was a new series at church called “Simple,” which was learning to live a godly life. During each and every sermon, God began to work in my heart. Every sermon touched an area of my life that was hurting and in so much pain. But one day, everything changed…
I will stop my story here for now because I want you to tell you something important. I know you’re questioning God and you don’t know what to do anymore. You’re at the end of the rope. I want to tell you that it’s not over. God is not done. He's working even when you don’t see Him. You might feel as if you’re in the waiting room and you’ve been waiting for too long. Your story is NOT over yet. My story wasn’t over at that moment. But sometimes to have a breakthrough, God must break you.
Younger Soul, keep waiting because God “acts for those who wait for him” Isaiah 64:4 (ESV). Keep waiting. I will continue my story next month.
Older & Much Wiser You
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 64:4 (ESV)