My Testimony

I started drafting this the week before I went on my Walk to Emmaus, in mid-March.  It’s been a document in flux since then.  I think I finally finished it tonight.

Okay, here goes…

My journey in life constantly reaffirms what I learned in Sunday School as a little girl:  that Jesus loves me and that God is good.  I want to share with you a few examples of how my faith has been challenged and yet, how my faith has grown.

I was baptized when I was 5 months old at Stockbridge Presbyterian Church in Stockbridge, Georgia, so my first images of church are from when I was a toddler.  We sang “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” in Sunday school, and we had Easter egg hunts and Christmas programs.  I learned very early that the church is a loving, warm, safe place to learn about God’s love.

When I was 10 years old, my parents and I joined Carrollton Presbyterian.  That church and its fellowship was an incredibly good influence for me as a child and teenager.  I have severe scoliosis that I had surgery for when I was 13 years old and that summer of 1993, that congregation wrapped its arms around me and my family.  The entire summer, the members of that church visited me, sent cards, sent things to keep my spirits up and to keep me entertained through my bedridden recovery.  My faith grew through fellowship as a youth member of this church.  J.P. helped me bridge that understanding of Jesus’s love I’d already known as a child.  He was a real life example of radical discipleship, of true servant leadership, and of how God’s love works around us.  I still miss his guidance.

Just after my seventeenth birthday, I had a major psychotic episode.  By the end of my two-week hospitalization, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  My psychotic symptoms come out to this day whenever the “perfect storm” of a manic mood and severe external stress happen at exactly the same time.  After that first episode, I stopped coming to church and started avoiding my friends at school, sure that everyone in Carrollton knew I was crazy.  So I isolated myself, only hanging around with my boyfriend of the time, who was suicidal and into self-mutilation.  The relationship and isolation only fostered my illness for the worse.  It was probably the darkest time of my life and I know it was the first time I became angry with God.

I was able to go on to college, thankfully.  At Georgia State University, I majored in religious studies.  My faith in God grew as I studied and came to understand a little bit of the world outside my Protestant Christian upbringing.  The survey I received in those brief years of college just skimmed the surface of the religions I studied, but it was a powerful lesson in tolerance of other cultures. For example, the survey I took on Islam was early in the post-9/11 era and there were some very candid discussions which led to growth for a lot of us in that class during a time when there was serious fear throughout this country.

The Fall after I graduated from Georgia State, I met Jared Alan Price.  We discovered our many common interests included religious studies and we spent many hours talking about how those interests could be applied.  We dreamed together of travel to other countries.  Dating became a challenge as Jared lived in Iowa and I lived in Georgia, but somehow, we made it work.  Through his kindness both to me and the way he continues to demonstrate his love for his family and friends, I discovered that I’d met the most compassionate person I’ve ever known.  I was lucky to get to marry Jared on April 2, 2005 at Epworth-By-the-Sea on St. Simons Island, Georgia.  Jared continues to be a real model of constant faith for me.

The little family Jared and I have created has brought me a very, very long way toward thankfulness to God and real health, though I must admit it didn’t start out that way.

We lost Jared’s mom, L., two weeks after our wedding, when she lost her long battle with breast cancer.  L. was the most faithful woman I’ve ever known and I am extremely blessed to have gotten to know her, even for a short time.

Then, there was a late first trimester miscarriage the first Fall we were married.  It was another devastating loss and there are days when I’m still not over it.

When Porter Wesley Price was born on August 24, 2006, I had my proof positive that God is good.  For those first few days of Porter’s life, it was enough that our little premature one was alive.

But there were problems with Porter’s lungs and nervous system.  We sat there watching and waiting helplessly while life went on for those we love.  Summer turned into Fall without me noticing.  For what seemed like an eternity, I sat there watching and waiting in that hospital for Porter to get better, feeling very alone.  God seemed to disappear as Porter’s heart rate and oxygen levels continued to drop to dangerously low levels with no warning.  I can still hear the dreaded monitor alarms today.  But five weeks after he was born, Porter grew out of his problems and we finally got to take him home.

Jared and I joined Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa in November of 2006, our first church home as a family.  That warm and very caring congregation accepted us with open arms from the first visit and we got involved with Sunday school and the bell choir from the start.  One of the nursery attendants had a special needs son herself and through fellowship with her, I lost some of my anger at God over Porter’s rough start in life.  That congregation helped to restore some of my faith in God’s love during a time when I was really hurting, lonely, and bitter over losses, homesickness, and rough starts.  Porter was baptized at Westminster Presbyterian during a blizzard that shut down most of the state.

When I had enough of the snow, Jared, Porter, and I moved back to Georgia in 2007.  I had been homesick for far too long and the only answer was to move back to the Carrollton area.  I especially wanted to get back to my precious Carrollton Presbyterian Church.

There was a wonderful surprise addition to our family a few months after we settled in our house here…Liam Turner Price was born just after midnight the morning of May 21, 2008.  He was another preemie, but thankfully, he was born just fine.  My silent prayer was answered; we got to have a “normal” baby, with no neonatal intensive care nightmare.

I got into treatment for my bipolar disorder after ten years of no treatment when I had serious postpartum depression after Liam was born.  I still live in fear to this day of the psychotic episodes that continue to happen when that perfect storm of mania and stress come together and my particular case is severe enough to be disabling.  But the psychosis can be prevented if I learn my triggers well enough and take good care of myself, through medication and therapy.

I still go through phases of anger at and apathy toward God because of my experiences with isolation, with my illness, with losses and difficulties along the way.  I will continue to get depressed from time to time, as bipolar disorder is a chronic illness.  Even at the height of my apathy, though– even in the height of the psychosis I fear so much, I’ve always known deep down that there is a God, and that “Jesus Loves Me,” just like the song I learned as a little girl.

So, that’s where I am right now in my faith journey.

 

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