Since accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior I have always been very active in the Church. So in 1996 when I was divorced I went through a period of time, nearly 3 years, in which I felt ashamed and hypocritical. I was plagued with the thought that I had failed everyone around me and therefore was no longer worthy to be part of the family of God. I threw myself into my schoolwork, my full time job, and my kids. I put the Lord and the Church out of my mind; being a single mother, I had more important things to concern myself with. But, I had a friend that never left me. She would occasionally call me and let me know what was going in the Church and tell me how much everyone missed me, and stuff like that. She was never pushy. She never told me what she thought I ought to do or condemn me for my choices; she was just there at the time I needed her most. If I’m honest, they were the times when the Holy Spirit was prompting me to recognize that I needed to return to the Lord. But I was just so ashamed. How could I explain to everyone where I was spiritually and what was going on and would they really care?
After one of those days when you just want to disappear, never to be found again, I got a phone call, it was my friend. She was all excited about a spiritual retreat that the church was planning. She was just so convinced that I should go. I reasoned with myself that I could use some R&R and after some gentle persuasion, I agreed to go for the weekend. I am so glad I did! It was at that retreat that the Lord spoke to my heart and healed me from a 21-year nicotine habit. God took me where I was and welcomed me home without hesitation. I felt a little like the prodigal son; except that all my brothers and sisters in Christ received me with open arms. Nobody said, “Where you have been?” or “What have you been doing?” We shared and we laughed together as if no time had passed between us. I am reminded of Isaiah 57:18 “I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.” I thank God for His mercy and for the friends that did not give up on me.