We now begin a mini history lesson of Michelle (Hawkins) Cooper. 24 years ago I saw, for the first time, a boy that I wanted to meet but never stepped out because a friend of mine really liked him. Well they ended up dating and I was happy for her. I listened to her every time she said how wonderful he was. She never knew that I thought he was super cute and wanted to get to know him better. She had no idea as she told me things, I secretly was wishing she would not tell me anymore. Well needless to say they didn’t last. As he was breaking up with her, I actually stepped between them as they sat in a hallway. Inside I was jumping with excitement because I could tell what was going on! It was my time to step up before some other girl did. So the very next chance I got I gave that boy a kiss on the cheek to thank him for handing me my bag as he unloaded the van. That did it; his face turned to me and finally noticed me!!!!!!! That very night, as we shared as a group some troubles in our lives, he took notice that we shared a common hardship in life. We ended up talking for hours that night. We shared things about our lives that we had NEVER shared with ANYONE. As we talked I began to know and understand that he was the guy I was going to marry and he felt that very same way about me. He accepted me for me and it was an amazing feeling. Yep you guessed it, we got married. What an amazing day! I married my very best friend. Nothing could ever break the happiness I felt. . . . Now the next chapter. . . . . We had an interesting spiritual walk to say the least. We were so hungry to love God that we wanted to please Him in EVERY way of our lives. That hunger was abused and mistreated. How can someone take such a thirst and hunger and abuse it in the way ours was. We were never taught that God was a God of love; no we were taught that He was a vengeful, angry God. I was assigned a “discipler” to teach me how to be a perfect Christian. I was taught how to pray and read how they wanted me to. I was personally told on more than one occasion that I was hard hearted and that I was going straight to hell. Being a Christian was a very heavy thing. I never did measure up to expectations. It got to a point I cried for 3 years asking my husband, who I loved with every ounce that was in me, “Don’t make me go! I don’t want to go!” Every week I would cry and plead to NOT go to the house of God. Now keep in mind what the scripture says about how you should feel when going to the house of God, "I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” ~ Psalm 122:1 (NLT). I was far from feeling that way. I was sad and lonely. We eventually walked away from that mess and God lead us to a wonderful church. This is how I felt that first Sunday going to a new church, I cried the entire service. I was taught that the church we left was the ONLY church. If you didn’t go to this church you were going to hell. I just knew God was going to strike me down dead and I was going to hell. It was at this new church that in the very same year my husband felt his call into the ministry. I began to see my God as a compassionate, lovely, caring, and tender God. I began to find a freedom in Christ that I had NEVER felt before. God taught me that I was beautiful. That He made me just as He wanted me to be. I LOVE what He has made me into. The freedom He has given me is AMAZING!!!!!
So I had the chance to revisit that place that I left so long ago. See some faces that have long been put out of my mind. It was VERY difficult for me to walk into this place knowing how these same people made me feel many years ago. Those feelings of dark heaviness revisited me. The loneliness and sadness I had for so long. It wasn’t a good feeling but yet through this revisit, God reminded me of the freedom He gave me. I no longer walk by man’s ruling but by the ruling of God. So even though it was filled with some heavy reminders, I had such an inner peace that I cannot explain. “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” ~ Romans 6:14 (NLT). So my challenge to you……. Did you forget where you came from? What God took you out of? I challenge you to stop and remember what He did for you and rejoice in the new life you have found.