Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)
TITLE: KEEP YOUR CHIN UP
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
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At the young age of 18, I discovered I was pregnant. I had just started college and my boyfriend was still in High School. I think we both knew we were too young to have a baby. I was frantic at the thought of being responsible for another living creature. I could barely take care of myself. Soon after I found out I was expecting, my boyfriend decided to hit the road. I was heartbroken and terrified.
It became quite easy to blame God for my situation. I was young and naïve enough back then to put the blame on anyone but myself. I became so angry I decided I’d teach God a lesson, by not believing in Him anymore. That would show Him! I even went so far as to call my friend Father Dave to inform him that I had absolute proof in the non-existence of God. I jutted my chin out and pulled my shoulders back as I proclaimed, “It says in the Bible that God will never give you more than you can handle. Well, I’m barely 18, pregnant, my boyfriend dumped me, and my parents are disappointed in me. It’s way too much. I can’t handle it. Therefore there is no such thing as a god. Case closed.”
My friend hesitated for a mere second before he said, “The only thing that proves is God has more faith in you than you have in yourself.” The words hit me like a bucket of cold water. Was it possible I was wrong? I really wanted to believe in God, but the fact that God could believe in me was a totally foreign idea. I had never believed in myself, but God believed in me? Wow!
After much soul searching and talking with my parents, I decided to have the baby and raise her with my parents’ help. My mom realized how important it was to have faith. She encouraged me through every challenge with her words, “Keep your chin up and your eyes on the Lord.”
It was the first step in a very long journey; but with Jesus by my side it was a trip worth taking. Before my daughter turned 5, I was stricken with a life altering illness. I had contracted a shingles-like virus that slowly damaged many of the nerves in my body. I’ve had the blistering sores over my entire body; from the lining of my brain to the soles of my feet.
The worst part of the illness is the unbearable pain. I’m afraid to fall asleep because I lose control and tend to scream in agony. It is heart wrenching to have my kids shake me awake and offer me words of comfort. I’m the parent; I’m suppose to comfort them. But then I’m reminded that God has faith in me. So I gather all my strength, repeat these words “Keep your chin up and your eyes on the Lord,” and carry on.
However, just when I thought life couldn’t get any worse, I was dealt the most devastating blow to date. My beloved mother died suddenly at the age of 57. She had been my supporter, my spiritual mentor, and my best friend. I didn’t think I could ever survive this loss. Thoughts of suicide flooded my mind. I didn’t think I could handle so much pain at one time. But God gently reminded me that He believed in me. He promised me He would give me the strength to endure. Slowly I came out of my depression and got back on my feet again. I reminded myself over and over “Keep your chin up and your eyes on the Lord.”
I still have the agonizing pain that rips through my body leaving me shaking so hard I fall down. I still have the nights where I scream so loud I’m afraid the neighbors will call the police. Many days, my body fights against the pain so hard sweat pours off me and runs down my legs. I still get the blistering sores several times a month. On most days my heart feels like it’ll explode because I miss my mom. But best of all, I still have faith, not just in a powerful God, but I have faith in me. So I will carry on through the pain and greet tomorrow with the words, “Keep your chin up and your eyes on the Lord.”
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