THE STORY OF NAOMI
I am the fourth child in a family of six children. A clairvoyant woman once said to my mother that she would only give birth to three children. My parents, who later became Christians, learned that a life can be ‘imprisoned in Christ’. My mother wanted to withstand what this clairvoyant woman predicted and prayed with her whole heart for a fourth child. After many prayers and a pregnancy I was born.
I’m Christian, brought up in Protestant Evangelical churches, the Baptist and the Mennonites. I went to camps for Christian children, and to Sunday School. In my teenage years I regu-larly visited youth groups of the church. There I became disappointed when I noticed the narrow thinking of the children of the pastors and elders of the Church. They felt so superior in their unrighteous behavior, that I didn’t want to resemble them. If this was ‘God’, I didn’t want that god.
When I was about 15 years old, I stopped attending church with my parents. I started to have home parties with my girlfriends that lasted the whole weekend. I also enjoyed more and more physical affection from men.
I matured and started the first year at University and got my first apartment. I felt ‘free’. My father was no longer there to protect and forbid me. My mother would no longer be sad about my behavior, because she was too far away to be informed. I now lived almost 200 miles from my old home. I got more knowledgeable about drugs, of the human body and all about nightlife. I placed myself in very dangerous situations. One time I got into a very nasty situation. That happened some years after I no longer wanted God in my life. But then, as my last resort, I cried out to God for help. The situation was solved in a moment. I was relieved and went home. But after locking the door, I didn’t notice that I shut out God again. I went on with my life of joys, sorrows, failures, debauchery, appearances, lies, etc.
In 2008, the church that my parents attended, had a ski camp in the Alps. My two younger brothers also went there. It wasn’t an expensive vacation, so I went there too. The first skiing day was super: beautiful slopes, very good snow (although frozen), beautiful sunny weather. Everything went well. Even the devotional time that evening wasn’t too boring. The theme was: ‘Our God is a God of victory’. However, at my second skiing day I got a chance to take a ride in a ski-lift. During the descent of the first mountain slope I slipped and fell at a spot of frozen rain. For about twenty minutes I was unconscious. When I recovered I was already lying on a stretcher. This was the largest accident I had ever had in my life. I had luck, just a problem with my shoulder, though my face was somewhat skinned but that was all for the moment. However, a few days later my mother noticed I lost my memory. I still recalled former memories, but my present memory only lasted five minutes. I had no problems with that. I simply loved this new outlook on life. I regarded this accident to be a new opportunity. If I had died at the time of the acci-dent, I would have been ashamed of my past life. That is why I said to God, “Thank you so much for this new opportunity to start a new life, a life with a new course of action.” I took advantage of the situation to quit my studies in psychology at the University of Strasbourg and I started at the School of Visual Arts in the High Pyrenees. I now had a new life that I wanted to live with God, in a new city where I knew no one and no one knew me, the perfect environment to have a new start.
There I became acquainted with a very nice young couple. After a meal, the young lady showed me some pictures they had found on the internet, pictures of punks, hippies, metal-heads who praised God and called themselves Christians. So, one afternoon we, my comrade, his brother and a customer in their tattoo-piercing shop, tried to figure out who those people were. We spent the time talking about God which is rather an uncommon topic in such quarters. These people who were so different than traditional Christians, intrigued me more and more. I discovered there was a movement called, Jesus Freaks. In France there was a community called TCHAAP: La Tribu Chrétienne Hétéroclite Altermondialistes Autogérée de Prière (The Heterogeneous Christian Tribe for Antiglobalisation and Self- management through Prayer). In the course of time I felt the need to meet them again. At the beginning of the new year they sent an invitation which I accepted at once. This was my opportunity to know more about these people who were so different than other Christians, but who lived with and loved the Jesus of the Bible, the son of God, the Creator. I felt at ease with them. I have been there several times since, in order to know them and I have always had a great time.
During the weekend of the presidential election, they orga-nized two or three days with the theme ‘antiglobalisation-alterchristianism’. I’m not politically engaged at all. But it pleased me to meet new friends again. That weekend provided me with a different theme: ‘The Separation of Body and Mind’. All my talks resulted in this topic. This was the problem of my life. I didn’t have the intention to deal with the subject, but nevertheless we talked much about it and got a lot of valuable advice.
At the end of the weekend, a silent church service was held. We had to repeat in mind a Bible verse. It was all new to me, but it was something like, “Thank you Lord God that I am a miraculous creation”. So we repeated that sentence. When someone wanted to share another thought, word or song, that person was free to open his or her mouth and speak out. That turned out to be a rather difficult moment for me. I had Psalm 51:17 (Bible) in mind: “Unlock my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise Lord”, but my jaws seemed to be locked and my teeth clamped (and I hadn’t used drugs!). All the time I tried to relax and open my mouth because I had spoken much with God. This church service ended in silence with a song that was repeated by all in silence. The words were beautiful (“The darkness is not dark for you! The night is just like the day light!”), but the melody was very slow! Terrible! However, when the song started, my mouth was still closed. A tear flowed over my cheek. I didn’t know why, but I gently wiped it away. Two large tears flowed down my other cheek. I felt it would never stop. Silently I went to the toilets. But at the moment I closed the doors of the Hall, the sobbing started again. I had the idea to hide myself at the toilet. I decided to hide myself with the goats at the other side of the square. There, sitting on the wall, I cried and cried and cried. The sobbing went through my whole body. And I didn’t know why I cried. Nothing had happened, yet I couldn't manage to quit. Then suddenly it was over. I cried no more. I said to myself “Super!” I lifted up my head and saw millions of stars. It was full moon and a goat stood against a tree eating leaves. I realized, I too am a creation of God, just like the stars, the moon, the plants and animals. What I saw there was really very beautiful. And I started to cry again, and again it was impossible to stop. One moment I was able to talk to God, in my head, and also a little out loud. I thanked Him for the opportunity to have peace with my body, about the place of trespasses and about something which I detested. I am a creature in the midst of His creation. And how He washed me clean! These tears really cleansed my trespasses! I am now ready to accept the words of my Creator who says to me “Come as you are”, “Leave everything behind, follow Me”, “I will take care of you”. So I told Him: “OK, I’ll give you everything. Let me show how powerful you are. I am of you.” Honestly, I had nothing to lose. I was through with life and rather longed to die. At that time I chose to die, while I fully lived. I never regretted coming back this way to the basis of my existence, together with my Creator. Even now there are so many things that have changed in my life!
The life which followed was rich in encounters, emotions and surprises, although I was still a student with four dogs. Financially my income didn’t exceed 500 euros each month, but I choose to be closer to God. I ask Him to be present at every moment of my life. I know that He lives and exists. I experience His sweet peace. That will bring rest in my life. I will not lie and say that, since God is present in my life, all has gone well. That’s not true! I have a disease that affects my skin. Right now I have a lot of beautiful scars.
I have been hungry, have slept outside and suffered cold. But even when it doesn’t go (and that’s well with God), then something happens and makes my smile come back.
My life today is not easy and certainly not paradise. But my God, my Creator, knows what I love and what I need to do. I love my life more and more. I don’t regret my past (but neither do I want to go back). I dream of the future, that I hope doesn’t come too quickly. I am satisfied and happy with my present conditions.
Live life from day to day.
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