The first thing I learned as a child was the Lord's prayer. Big Momma couldn't read but she taught me the entire prayer and every night would end with me on my knees saying " Our father who art in Heaven". That prayer has sustained me throughout my life, even in times when I doubted the existence of a just God. I would question why he made things so hard for me. I wanted to know why I didn't have a loving family. I wanted to know why I had to protect myself. I wanted to know why he let so many bad things happen to me.
They would say that God was good ...all the time. Surely he wasn't good to me. I would wonder what I did that made him not love me. If he did, surely he would not make my life so hard ...so empty.
I cried and screamed at him to show me that he was real and that he loved me. Then I would pray to be forgiven for blaspheming. I was taught to fear God.
When I was little it was hard for me to reconcile a deity that was to be loved
and feared at the same time. I already lived with so much fear in my life. How could I trust him if I feared him? It was a long time before I learned that he was a God of love and he wouldn't hurt me like the adults in my life did. The same adults would say that he never burdened you with more than you could handle. I didn't understand until I was much older exactly what they meant.
I know now that God has always looked out for me.
He saved a child from dying at the hands of drunken father who could have beaten her to death. He sustained a young girl who lived most of her life without the love of a family. He came again and saved the teenager from a neighbor who tried to rape and murder her. He sent a police officer to stanch the blood from a wound that should have been fatal. He gave strength to a reluctant young girl who through a violent act became a mother before her time.
He gave me the determination to not only finish high school but also get a college degree. I remember carrying my baby on one hip and my school books on another. I loved school and would finish salutatorian of my high school class. I remember working two jobs in the daytime and attending Mercer University three nights a week and half a day on Saturday to get my Communications degree.
Each time I fell to my knees and felt that I couldn't go any further...he lightened my load. In my ignorance I would think that I had gotten lucky or that I had gotten a second wind and taken care of myself.
I thought for awhile that I did this without any help....I was wrong....God was there. Many people don't believe in a higher power and that it their choice. Looking back on my life I know there was a higher power guiding and protecting me. That same power guides and protects me today.
As I write this my granddaughter Zorie is in the bedroom asleep. I have prayed these last three months that God would let me see my baby again. It doesn't matter now....why or what kept us apart. What matters is that he answers prayers. She is just seven years old, but when I picked her up from school today she said: "Franny I prayed every night to God to let me come over to your house again. I even prayed in my sleep". She looked up at me with those beautiful liquid brown trusting eyes and said "I love you Franny. Did you miss me? Did you pray too?" At that moment I saw the proof of God's love and grace standing right there in front of me.
"Yes Zorie, I prayed too" I replied to her. She reach up and hugged me and I felt God's presence. In that moment all the love and peace that I've looked for my entire life was right there. And it was asking for nothing from me but love in return. Lord, there are still times I ask why and how...but not today. I just want to thank you for your grace and for answering prayers.