I’m excited to share with you a powerful story from a new friend of mine, Amy Smith. I heard Amy give her testimony a few months back. She had such an exciting and enviable career in fashion, traveling the globe and experiencing places and events most people never have the privilege of witnessing. Yet, as you can read below, this lifestyles was fascinating, but not ultimately fulfilling.
Many thanks to Amy for her willingness to share her testimony on my blog.
“Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places” was a popular tune some years ago and aptly describes my spiritual journey.
I grew up in a religious family, the eldest of six children. Competing with my two brother’s for my father’s attention, we traveled extensively exhibiting our horses each summer. I attended church every Sunday and heard all about sin and grace, deciding it was not for me. I was afraid if I accepted Christ into my life that I would have to go to Africa with a suitcase full of Bibles and that was something I definitely did not want to do.
I spent my young adult years working and playing hard in my career in fashion merchandising for a major department store. I was fortunate to travel regularly to New York, Paris, London, Florence , Milan and Tokyo on buying trips. It was an exciting and glamorous time.
One night I woke up and had no idea where I was. It dawned on me that there had to be something more than work to satisfy my longings for peace and fulfillment. That summer, I had a blind date with a very charming and attractive man in the Bahamas. We dated and married 18 months later. I thought that all my dreams had come true. I was living a fantasy, spending part of my honeymoon in Buckingham Palace for an awards ceremony that my husband’s family’s foundation sponsored.
But my fantasy came to a screeching halt soon after I became pregnant. I discovered that my husband had been unfaithful to me and had begun drinking heavily. He had told me he was an alcoholic while we were dating but since I never saw him take a drink, I thought he was “cured.”
After our daughter was born, my husband went to rehab and I discovered Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. Step Eleven encouraged me to improve my conscious contact with God. I remembered that one of my girlfriends had invited me to a Bible study a few months before. I thought it sounded like a cult and refused to go. But I found myself so lonely and afraid that I picked up the phone and called her.
More than two hundred women gathered to study the Gospel of John (also called the “book of love”). In John 14:1 Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Then in 14: 27 Jesus goes on to say, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (KJV).
I went home immediately and dropped to my knees, firing myself as CEO of my life and asking God to take over, confessing that I had come to the end of “me” and that my best efforts to run my life had failed.
From that moment, I could not get enough of the Bible. Why hadn’t anyone told me this is what it said? Of course, they had. I’d just been too blind to see.
For a season, my life consisted of Al Anon meetings, therapy and Bible studies. One morning while I was driving to my third Bible study of the week, I asked God if I was overdoing this Bible study “thing.” Three months later, my husband died in his sleep from an accidental overdose of pain medication. My Christian friends came and took over, handling the details for the funeral and praying for my 3-year old daughter and me.
Two years later, I became convinced my daughter needed to find a Christian school with strong academics. I searched through Money magazine’s “Top 100 Cities” and focused on Atlanta. I prayed that if God wanted me to move, I would need to sell my house and my daughter would need to be accepted by a good Christian school with strong academic requirements. My house sold in less than a month at full-price and my daughter was accepted to the school. We moved where we were warmly embraced by a wonderful Christian church, school and group of friends.
I studied the Bible every morning before my daughter woke for school and prayed Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (NIV). I never dated anyone seriously but spent many hours learning about God’s love, His character and His will for my life while conducting my business as a Financial Planner, keeping office hours to coordinate with my daughter’s school schedule.
One day, my daughter, then 13, pulled me aside and asked me what I was going to do when she went to college. I told her very matter-of-factly that I was going with her. She said, “No, Mom, you need to get a Life. You need to get on E-Harmony.” Shocked that my 13-year old was telling me how to run my life, I thanked her for her concern but told myself I could never do such a thing. The very same week, three other people told me the same thing about E-Harmony! I knew that if heard something three times independently from Christian friends, it was probably God speaking. I heard this advice a fourth time, so I reluctantly decided to give it a try.
One month later, I received an e-mail from an attractive-sounding attorney in Northern Virginia, who had recently lost his wife to cancer. After one month of e-mails I told him I was not looking for a pen pal and asked if he’d like to meet in person. After a few days, he replied that maybe we could meet at the Atlanta airport.
I found myself standing at the top of the elevator in the Atlanta airport, waiting to meet this gentleman for the first time. He had sent me an e-mail the day before mentioning that he had gained a lot of weight since his E-Harmony photo was taken and required two seats on the plane. He came up behind me and touched my arm, saying I must be Amy and what should we do? I was so relieved that he was a normal size, I told him it did not matter! Ten months later, we married in my prayer partner’s garden in Atlanta and I moved with my daughter to Northern Virginia.
Now in our 5th year of marriage, I am learning what it means to be a godly wife, mother, step-mother, and grandmother. Most of all, I am learning about the God of second chances and his unconditional love for me.
What a comfort it is to know that “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16 NIV).