I was that girl.
I attended church every Sunday, but as a teen, I realized I was not learning about God. I was taught to believe in Him, but I was never introduced to Him as my spiritual Father. All through my childhood and teen years, I did not know how to pray or how to properly follow God.
I got pregnant at age 20. My dad told me that I would either have to get an abortion or leave his house. I chose to leave. The father of my child abandoned me. I went through my pregnancy alone.
When my son was 3–1/2 months old, I met another man and married him. I was 22. But my husband became disabled. Each day became a constant struggle to provide food and shelter for my growing family of nine people.
Several months ago, we became homeless. Finally, we found a home to rent in Bethlehem, Pa., but since I was only working part–time, and our only other source of income was my husband’s disability payment, we would only be able to pay for our rent and utilities. How would we pay for our car? How would we feed our family?
In desperation, we contacted our local Salvation Army. When I walked through those front doors, my life changed. They greeted me with smiles and hugs and support and kindness. That day, rather than feeling alone and scared, I walked away for the first time feeling hopeful.
I started volunteering at a Salvation Army corps where someone invited me to attend church. I wanted to go, but the last time I had been in a church I was 19 years old. I thought, Would I be welcomed? Would God even want me? I had a conversation with a beautiful woman who assured me that I was welcome, that I was loved, and that I was God’s child.
I thought I needed nice clothes, but she told me that “God doesn’t care about what we wear. He loves us because He created us.”
I now attend church every Sunday at The Salvation Army and volunteer regularly. I have had time to do that because I lost even my part–time job, and we also lost our car. But with God’s love and guidance, we are getting by.
I hope to start a new job soon, and my husband found a used van at a good price. We still struggle every day, but the Lord provides. I am learning what it means to be a true child of God.
Finally at 45, I have found my rightful place in God’s house, in God’s family, and in God’s heart.
by Kathleen Wagner