Day Seven: A Dozen Reasons
There are a lot of reasons for why I believe in God. I’ve chosen a few reasons that have helped to strengthen my faith along my journey of life, to share with you. This is one of those stories:
I was twenty-four. I thought I was so grown up at the time, but I was still hardly more than a child. I was free for the first time in my life, and my choices could have been better, but I know that there were certain things I was meant to go through, to learn, to grow, and to become who I was meant to become. I’m still becoming.
The summer I turned twenty-four, I made the decision to finally leave my ex-husband. It was a decision that took longer than it should have, because I had guilt associated with it. I was not in love, and my juvenile decision to get married at eighteen had haunted me for six horrible years. We were not compatible, to say the least. He was into drugs and alcohol at that time, I was not. Our marriage was not happy, and it was time for me to move on.
I had recently started a job at a cool little restaurant in town, as a server, and the food was great there, and so were my tips. I was feeling confident of my ability to take care of myself, I had even purchased my own car, a used Grand Prix that I loved, and I was feeling pretty independent.
After deciding on divorce, my initial plan was to save up a little money so that I could get my own place. The plan was good, but the situation I was living in was not. Before I could blink, I had packed up a few things into my car and checked into a hotel. I had no savings, just my job, my car, and some clothes. Still, I felt amazingly confident in my ability to handle the world all on my own. I was happy.
Nobody at work really knew my situation, a few knew that my marriage was ending and that my ex-husband was a little off, but nobody knew that I was staying in hotels on a nightly basis. It wasn’t something I talked about, I suppose I was embarrassed.
I worked a lot. The restaurant was closed on Mondays, and I worked everyday except Monday. Only one day off a week, but honestly, had they been open on Mondays I would have worked then too. I wasn’t prepared for how much a hotel cost every night, I was staying at a Best Western that was just down the street from my work. I had no idea that I could have possibly worked out a weekly rate with them, nobody had ever told me that. I just made my tips everyday, and when it was closing time at the restaurant I used what I had made to get a room. Nightly. This went on for about a month.
Slowly, I began to realize I was in a losing situation. Most of what I made was being sucked into a place to lay my head at night. I was trying to save for a deposit, first and last months rent, but my savings were not accumulating very fast. Hotels are expensive, and I was quickly becoming frustrated. Still, I kept myself optimistic.
As the days went by, I made friends at work. The restaurant I worked at sold alcohol, and a lot of the people I worked with drank alcohol, some socially, some regularly. They began to invite me out. This was relatively new for me, my social outings before this had been few and far between. I had moved away from my hometown, and had not been able to stay in contact with some of my old friends.
Well, I was making new friends, and began going out socially after work with them. Before I knew it, I was drinking with them too (kind of ironic since drinking was a big reason I was getting divorced). The alcohol seemed to help in overcoming my shyness, and seemed to relax my worries away. At the time, I didn’t see it as an issue, but I know now that this was the very beginning of an alcohol problem for me. Often, after a night of fun and a few drinking games, I was invited to stay on somebody’s couch so that I wouldn’t have to drive home. Each time this happened, I was secretly elated because I wouldn’t have to pay for a room that night, and I would save the money instead. I felt that I was getting closer to having my very own roof over my head.
So, I saved. A little here, a little there. I looked at apartments, and found a cute one that I could afford. I almost had enough money, I loved my job, I was making friends, and I was still feeling like I could handle everything all by myself. I neglected to talk to God about any of this, which was my biggest mistake. I was just too busy working, saving, sometimes drinking, sometimes playing. Summer was half over, and I was sure that in two more weeks my goal would be met.
It was not.
My car broke down. It required major repairs, and almost every dollar I had saved went to fixing it. I needed that car to get back and forth to work, and to haul around my meager belongings. I was crushed. Still, I had my job, and a little bit of hope.
Then it seemed as if I had a series of events that put me further and further behind. The hotel raised it’s nightly rates, work had become a little slower than normal (people were doing summery things outdoors instead of dining out), and before I knew it, the night came that I didn’t have enough to even cover a single night in a hotel. I was seven dollars short.
Still, I never told anyone. I’m sure somebody would have let me borrow seven dollars, but I was too proud to ask. I slept in my car that night, or at least tried to sleep. I’m scared of the dark, and this was terrifying for me. I no longer felt free, or optimistic, or in control of my destiny. I felt afraid.
This only happened once, sleeping in my car. Once was enough, and instead of relying on myself, I realized I needed help. I was not too proud to turn to God, and so I did. I should have done that from the very beginning.
I feel very fortunate that God loves us enough to help us, even when we have been neglecting Him. I also wish that it hadn’t taken me hitting rock bottom to remember how much I needed Him. I know that sometimes He uses the hard situations in life to bring us closer to Him, and as I prayed to Him one night in my little hotel room, I felt as if He was saying, “At last, you’ve come to Me.”
And I did. I talked to Him about my situation, and how I didn’t see a way out of it. I asked Him to help me to get a home, to please help me to find a way.
Soon, the miracle happened. I say miracle, because I absolutely do not believe in coincidences when it comes to God.
There was a girl at work. She was a few years younger than me, pretty, smart, and ambitious. We had become friends. One night she asked me where I lived, and I honestly just felt God telling me to tell her the truth. He told me to speak up, and though I was embarrassed, I told her that sometimes I stayed in a hotel. She knew I was getting divorced, and she just spontaneously, without hesitation, asked me to spend the night at her house that night. Like a sleepover, she said. She told me she lived with her Aunt and Uncle, and that they wouldn’t care.
I was hesitant. She was insistent. I was desperate for a change. I felt God telling me to go. I listened to God, and I agreed.
That night, I spent the night. This sweet, outgoing girl shared her small room with me, and we talked the night away, listening to country music on her little radio. I absolutely adored her.
The following day, I met her Aunt and Uncle. I was nervous, felt shy, and a little out of place, taking a shower and getting ready for work in their home. They turned out to be the friendliest, most amazing, welcoming people you could ever meet. I quickly fell in love with this family.
My friend invited me the next night, and the next, and before I knew it, I was staying with them on a regular basis. It was no longer a question, I was just expected to come home every night with her.
This family made me feel at home, and that I had a home. They, who didn’t have a whole lot to give, opened up their house, and their hearts to me. They gave me a roof, a place to shower, and they fed me. I learned soon after beginning to stay there that they had a tendency to help those in need. I definitely needed them. The world needed them, and more people to be like them.
For the first time all summer, I felt safe. I saved all of my tips, because this family never took a single dollar from me. They made me feel like family, they cared for me, teased me, joked with me and helped me to get on my feet. By the end of the summer, I was moving into my very own apartment. My friend even helped me to decorate. My prayers had been answered.
One night, after coming home, I locked up my new apartment, and turned around, leaning against my door. I looked around my small home, and felt such an explosion of gratitude. I was grateful for God leading me to that family. That He pulled me out of a desperate situation, one I couldn’t find a way out of on my own. I was grateful to now have a home, food in my belly, a car to drive, and a job to pay the bills. I had so much! I promised God I would always be grateful, because I knew there were so many people who did not have these very things. I was, and am, very blessed.
That night I prayed. Every night since, I have prayed. I no longer saved my prayers for desperate nights, or the occasional thank you. I made it a habit to talk to God daily. As the years went by, I began to grow in my faith, to talk to God more and more, just as I did in my childhood. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. The more I prayed, the more I wanted to listen for His voice.
Being homeless was the beginning of something great for me, though I still had a long and hard journey ahead of me. It was the beginning of a faith adventure with God, an adventure that was leading me somewhere new. This was the greatest adventure of my life, and is still unfolding today.
My world, my life, my heart, my soul, was so much better with God involved. Being homeless was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It was a step towards here, the place I am now, the place of finding complete and total faith.
Thank You, God, for answered prayers, and thank You for that family you placed in my life, just when I needed them. Please bless them and keep them, and all the others that are just like them. Amen.
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For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.
If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7