HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

FAITH UNFADED

by Jeanni Ritchie

A “For Real” Testimony

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

I used to hate my past.

I wanted to trade places with someone, anyone, who didn’t have the mistakes I did. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and filled with regret.

I wanted to be anyone but me.

Stepping into God’s purpose in your life changes all of that.

I now marvel at how He’s woven my past together so seamlessly for His glory.

Beauty from ashes.

Talking with a group of teens recently I mentioned my upcoming book. We were searching for common ground; they couldn’t see any overlap in the Venn diagram of our lives.

“What kind of book is it?” one asked.

“It’s a Christian memoir,” I’d replied.

“Praise Jesus,” he’d replied, a cross between sincere and sarcastic. My answer had caused the others to immediately write me off as out-of-touch given the lives they were having to navigate. They were done listening.

“Well, yeah, praise Jesus,” I’d said, wanting to acknowledge the truth in his words. But then I continued.

“Who else could save me after being shot at while buying crack in Detroit at 16? Or bring me back from the dead after a cocaine overdose at 19 to find bricks tied around my ankles as I was about to be thrown in the river in Louisiana? Or help me survive someone trying to smother me with a pillow in Jackson who told me if he couldn’t have me, no one would?”

Their eyes widened as their ears reopened.  “You have a ‘for real’ testimony,” someone exclaimed.

Indeed I do.

This testimony has gotten me a seat at many tables from homeless camps to prisons. They listen because they know I understand without judgment.

I’m no victim. While I’d done no wrong in the hotel room in Mississippi, I’d clearly opened the door in the other two situations. Drug seeking can cause great harm and I put myself in danger on many more occasions than this.

Here I was, once again, a seemingly unrelatable woman, who’d now been invited inside the hearts of those who desperately needed to hear a message of hope.

I would’ve never gotten there without all of the superfluous garbage I’d been through in life, the broken parts of a jagged mirror refashioned into a sparkling mirror ball.

I’ve revisited the places Satan literally and mentally tried to take me out. I’ve sought out places where my sorrow was so great I’d vowed never to set foot in them again.

I dance in those places now. I laugh; I stand tall. I show the devil he lost.

I am a child of God. Satan never had a chance.

… and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10

Besides, I’ve got a “for real” testimony now. He’s the one who should be scared of me.

Jeanni Ritchie shares her faith journey so that others may find hope in Christ as well. She can be reached at jeanniritchie54@gmail.com.

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