I had a very happy childhood. However, this happiness didn’t come from having all the luxuries of life; friends to play with or even the love a child craves from his or her parents. I never had any bad memories of my childhood and I couldn’t understand why that was, until recently when I was singing a song I used to sing in church as a youth – “Take Me Back” by Andre Crouch.
Church was a long way from home so often we would sing to pass the time. ‘Take me back’ was one of my favourites and I often sung it with others as we walked the journey to and from church. I also remember singing it in a group at a concert in church. As a child, I didn’t understand the meaning of the song. However, over the past year, I’ve faced some struggles like none-other I’ve faced before and found that the road was lonely and I longed to be in that place I was, as a child/youth.
What was it that made me want to return to that place in my past? Why would I want to go back anyway? School days weren’t all that fun! I was often bullied and I never seemed to fit in anywhere. My mother was never around and neither was my dad. I had two sisters who thought I wasn’t equal because they shared the same mom and dad and I was the outsider – “half-sister” as they put it (who only shared their mom). It was lonely days but I still wanted to return.
I was part of a gospel musical last year called “Gospel Glory!” and I was pleasantly surprised to find that ‘Take Me Back’ was one of the featured songs. That song became my anthem. Why? I had lost my joy and I wanted it back.
From an early age I accepted Christ in my Life. I believe I received the Holy Spirit before I got Baptised at age thirteen (13) and that’s why I didn’t focus on the negative things that were happening to me at the time. Fights would break-out at school and I would be bold enough to part those fights and get the children involved to come to a resolution. The same thing would happen at home if any of my sisters started arguing with each other or with cousins. And if anyone would disrespect any of the elders including my grandparents! I would be the one to remind them that it’s not right. If someone swore, I would encourage them not to do so. I believe I was being led by the Holy Spirit why I was so bold and seemed to have had the right attitude towards my fellow brothers and sisters and life in general. That’s why I remember my childhood as being a happy one.
But things changed. I grew up but my spiritual growth declined. I no longer wanted to help others. My thoughts would be:
“They should know better”;
“Leave them, and let them get on with it”;
“It’s not my problem anyway. I might say something and it would serve me right if they should snap at me and tell me to mind my own business”.
So I would keep quiet and let them get on with it. Life had taught me to look out for number one. I wasn’t comfortable with it but it felt like the safer option. The years rolled on and I kept quiet though I hurt inside, seeing the injustices: the mis-education taking place; the myth that fills people’s head with fear and the lies that carry on making people remain in bondage.
Having walked away from the joy and happiness I knew in Christ, I became miserable, angry and frustrated because the world offered me nothing but hate, hate and more hate. Everywhere I turned, hate was there – in the media, on people’s faces and in their voices. Everywhere I ran to, looking for love, I was bitterly disappointed. Intensified, under-cover hate is what I found. I was tormented, for I seemed to have run out of options. I wanted to hibernate but there was no hiding place.
Still, self would not allow me to run to Jesus. So I fought with every last strength I had, to get through another day. But it just wasn’t good enough. I was now in a place where I had to choose LIFE or DEATH.
Choosing LIFE meant that I would have to allow God to fix me up. Choosing LIFE meant I had to see all those haters as my neighbours. You know what the bible teaches us about our neighbours! Choosing LIFE meant that I no longer had a choice but to love my neighbour as myself. Being OBEDIENT is hard work, especially as an adult when set in one’s own way. Choosing LIFE meant that my time and resources were no longer mine to hold onto. It was time to start sharing.
Someone might compare this to imprisonment and they would be right. When you decide to give your all to Christ you are, in effect, dying to self and allowing God to have total control of your life. For God to produce beauty, He has to have control of every aspect of our lives. So He had to re-make me – habits had to be broken; fear had to leap out of me. He had to teach me how to be faithful to Him, honouring Him with my time and my finances. Self-control was needed, especially in my finances. He taught me the importance of rest:
“Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God’ (Deuteronomy 5:13,14).
I learnt that stealing was not only a crime restricted to shoplifters or blue/white collar thieves who deal in fraudulent activities but a crime against God when tithing weren’t part of my lifestyle. By this point, I doubted my ability to live the Christian life but the Holy Spirit gently fed me with the fruit of the Spirit. Now I’m consumed by LOVE.
I was waiting for Jesus to find me and got frustrated in my state of sin. The stench was unbearable so in desperation, I went seeking and I found Him. He saved me from myself and told me, through His Word, that it is in His strength (Philipians 4:13) and not mine, that I will be able to live the Christian life. He forgave me and I felt a peace within that brought back the joy I longed for.
It was then, I realised why my childhood was the place I always ran to when feeling alone and when facing hardship. What I really missed was not my childhood but the relationship I had with Jesus as a child. I had lost my joy and I needed Him to help me find my way back.
“The joy I have, the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away” (Yolanda Adams).
Janice, a freelance writer, lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with her husband, Vince and their son, Javin. She uses her gift to encourage others towards a deeper relationship with God, through her inspirational pieces while her travel articles provide general advice for the holiday-maker.