“When I said yes to Jesus, it allowed for transformation in life in ways I could never imagine. Pain, recognizing the vow made to cover that pain, and the need to confess a sin… I did not know this was all a part of my path when I said yes in April 1973, but that is where the journey went.
You may ask, what is this vow I am talking about? Those who have journeyed through Faithwalking will recognize this action. Simply put, I looked at my life and said, “Because of this, I will do such and such”. Sadly, I actually used God as my excuse to not develop a deep relationship with my family of origin. Because I felt unseen and not understood, I felt unloved.
After I accepted Jesus into my heart, I felt an acceptance I had never known before. There was a problem, though. My family saw Sandi as, well, just Sandi. I was not only fearful of not being seen but was very unsure how my new relationship in Jesus would be accepted and encouraged. I grew up in a church-based family, but there was never talk of an intimate relationship with Jesus. So again, I would be an oddball and not understood.
As a baby Christian with little knowledge of the Bible, my alternative was to seek a place where I felt seen and could grow in my relationship with Jesus. I slowly began to put up invisible protective walls. I moved to the other side of the state where my college was located. Interaction with my family was not a priority. I connected with a Christian group which felt more like my real family than my family of origin.
I grew in my Christian walk, but where was my love for my own family?
Now I am in Duluth. I am married. I have a family of my own. But what about my siblings, my parents? My vow kept me away from my family of origin for a very long time. I would see other families talk about gatherings. I would spend time with my in-laws and feel accepted, but my own family of origin was somewhere in the shadows. Sadly, this decision was denying a positive relationship between my children and their cousins.
Transformation of the heart occurs in God’s timing. I went through Faithwalking. I saw the pain experienced during my childhood labeled, but God had plans for me to participate in a deeper way.
It happened on a Sunday morning during one of Michael’s messages. My heart began to race, which meant God was asking me to respond to his love. When the call was made, I went past my husband and children in the row and went up for prayer. I recounted my family story to her, and I put into words what was keeping me apart. This word came out of my mouth: pride!
I had something, or felt I had something, they did not. I can’t say I was doing this on purpose. I just felt this was safe and used it as a protective wall. God said “No more.” I was not led to respond to this transformation earlier, but when God asked me to do it now, I did. He was in charge. An openness in my soul occurred. God filled my heart with love for my family. I could see them!
Our connection may not be the same as many families, but the freedom I have to love my siblings is wonderful. I have texted, messaged, and been involved with FB sister exchanges. My husband Pete, our kids, and I went through Iowa one Christmas and stopped for a visit. That was a big thing for me.
God’s timing is always perfect. As serious, painful situations arose with my sisters within the last two years I engaged with them in the love of Jesus and what he has given me: Prayer and Encouragement.
This is totally God’s work. I can offer love to my siblings with no expectations as to how they need to receive it. I smile. It is wonderful to be able to say: I love my family!”