Found by Faith

Found by Faith

A Story by Natasha Reams

I felt compelled to share this story. Think of it what you will, just know I have not exaggerated or bent the truth in any way. This was how I became who I am.

When tragedy strikes a family it can be utterly devastating. Those without a particular religion or faith either find one or use it as an excuse to keep away from faith. Similarly, people with faith will either lose it or grow strong in it. Whether you believe in God, or Buddha, or spirits this is a fact: all people go through trials, and those trials always change them. My own family was entirely Christian and had had their share of trials. Personally, mine came at the age of six. I shared it with my parents and most of the town I lived in.
On April 10th, 2003 we all lost a seven-year old boy named Erik. He was my older brother, and my only sibling. Everyone in our town knew him and loved him for his kindness and bravery. I still remember him constantly defending me and any of his friends from bullies. In my eyes he was the perfect brother; always protecting me and letting me play with his toys and his friends. Then he got sick.
For a year he had a brain stem tumor. It was inoperable, and as it progressed his movement became extremely limited. In all that difficulty and through all the pain he must have been in, my brother didn’t complain. He didn’t get angry or frustrated that he was losing control over his limbs. Instead he stayed remarkably cheerful; confident that he was dying according to God’s plan. At age seven Erik had more faith in him than most adults. His trust was completely in God to take him to a better place full of light and love, and to care for my parents and I while he was gone.
Then he was gone. There was a funeral where family members spoke and were confident he was in Heaven. My parents and I cried and grieved constantly. They had prayed to God so much to heal Erik. Their faith wavered on the edge of a knife, falling completely the moment my brother stopped breathing. Both my mom and I struggled to contain our grief so that we could appear strong. All my dad could feel was anger, though: anger that God, whom he had loved and served faithfully, had taken away his son. His rage never wavered like his faith had. My mom and I were forced to watch it eat away at him while he drank and shook his fist at God.
In that year after Erik’s death I delved deeper than ever into my shell of shyness. Friends moved away or turned out not to be good for me. I became very much alone for a long time, only hanging out with others I knew in an effort to be kind as well as occupy myself. During that time, however, I also realized I had no hate for God like my father did. In my heart I knew that Erik had believed and loved God so he had gone to Heaven, which meant my best chance of being with my brother again was to believe in and love God as well. The tragedy that struck my family made my dad lose all faith, my mother waver in hers, and made me cling to the hope faith brought with it.
After that I steadily began to see blessings come to me as well as punishment to my dad. Erik's death had left a gaping hole in my heart that I could feel throbbing each and every day. However, the day my parents stopped at a pet store to pick up ferret food was the day a small part of the hole got mended. Inside that pet shop were two puppies for sale: half Akita and half German Shepherd brothers. In a spur of the moment decision I was allowed to choose one for my very own. The clerk let the puppies out so that I could meet them properly. One ignored me and wandered off towards the fish tanks, more interested in watching them. His brother approached me with his lopsided ears and curled tail quite readily. He circled me three times, sniffing, and then sat himself down in front of me ready to be petted. That moment was the first truly blessed moment I can remember having after Erik’s death. I named the puppy Samwise Gamgee, because he was loyal and loving as if I were his Frodo.
Samwise gave me comfort, unconditional love, and the protection I missed so much in my brother’s absence. He became my perfect companion. Unfortunately there was little he could do about the bullying I received at school. The children during my elementary years were hard to get along with. There was very little I had in common with any of them. I actually used to get in trouble with my teachers because I preferred to sit alone at lunch time rather than sit with the others. With my silent nature and unwillingness to try to blend in made me an outcast: the shy, nerdy girl who didn’t want to play with others.
Another blessing came to rectify this during third grade. A girl the same age as me moved to town from Texas with red curly hair. To this day I don’t remember precisely how we met or when we became friends exactly. All I know is that the two of us became inseparable almost instantly. At the time she loved wolves, Pokemon, horses, and many of the same things I did. Being with her spurred my interests towards hers, and her interests towards mine. She became my new defense against the bullies at school too. Where I was weak and frightened she was brave and loyal. Numerous times she fended off the bullies and made it possible for me to have fun outside of my bedroom with my books.
Even as I grew older and became better at making friends Carol was always my best. Others choose different friends over me, decided to stop being my friend altogether, or simply didn’t make an effort to keep our friendship. Through all the people that came and went as my friends, Carol was my constant. Now adults and living thousands of miles away from each other, Carol and I still haven’t faded apart. She has few friends and is focused on school and work. I have friends I enjoy spending time with, but still spend a lot of time alone in my room. We both still contact each other as often as our different schedules allow. Our conversations are often similar where we simply share whatever is new in our lives, but we never grow tired or bored of each other.
Between Carol and Sam, I had all the friends and support I needed. That hole within became more and more bearable as time passed. It still ached, and I still couldn’t speak my brother’s name without having an emotional breakdown, but I was not defeated. Even as my dad spiraled further and further into drunkenness and my mom complained about him more and more often, I did not get discouraged enough to lose the faith I had gained through my brother. In fact, being witness to the descent of their relationship made me focus even more of becoming stronger in my faith.
Both my parents had stopped attending church after Erik’s death so I actually grew up in a Christian family without going to church every Sunday. In middle school I began to think about the importance of church. I knew so little of the Bible and the teachings of God and Jesus Christ that I found it difficult to claim I was a Christian. So I joined a youth group run by the pastor of a Baptist church. Every Sunday night I went to his house with a few other kids in the town. We ate homemade pizza and Mississippi mud cake and read stories out of the Bible to discuss. It was during that time of fellowship that I began to understand what being a Christian truly meant. Believing in God and Jesus Christ were important, yes, but it was even more important to accept them. Accept that Jesus was the son of God and that he died on the cross to cleanse everyone of all their sins.
Once I reached high school I believed I knew who I was and where God was leading me. I never once hid my faith from my peers or attempted to change myself to become their best friend. Jesus was my savior and salvation, and through him I would have all that I needed in every aspect of my life. However, the pastor in charge of my youth group had moved away by then, and I was left once more without a church. For a year I clung to what I had learned until a new home church group began, lead by a young preacher and his wife. They gathered the few Christians in town at their home to spend a couple of hours reading scripture and worshiping God.
Up until this point, little else had happened in the way of big blessings from God since I met Carol. Life wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for me to have hope and stay faithful. Then, the summer before my senior year of high school I was working a job pet-sitting. I was staying a week at a woman’s house with her two dogs while she was away. Around that time I had begun reading a series called Mark of the Lion by Francine Rivers. The series had pulled me in immediately as it was about a young Jewish girl who was captured and sold as a slave by Romans after they had destroyed Jerusalem. It was while I was reading the second book in the series one night in bed. I was on the last few chapters and it was past midnight. As I read about a Roman woman in the house that the Jewish girl was a servant of, something miraculous happened.
The Roman woman was on her deathbed and tormented by the sins she had committed. She begged for the chance to be forgiven and cleansed before she died, and so her brother who had already converted to Christianity picked her up off her bed and carried her to the bath. There he baptized her, and as soon as it was done the woman died in his arms. This scene triggered an outburst of tears from me. I sat in bed blubbering and began crying out to Jesus. In all my attempts to learn more about being a Christian I had often gone to Him for forgiveness. Yet in that moment I realized I had only been confessing for whatever weighed most heavily on my heart; I hadn’t actually repented and allowed my slate to be washed clean.
At most, before, I was erasing the sins after being overcome by guilt. Trying to erase them, though, left smudges behind that new sins were piled on top of. I was still unclean and in need of God’s grace. So that night I lay everything about myself before God. I admitted to all my mistakes, failings, and insecurities. My heart cried out in anguish for the things I’d done that were wrong and for not doing what I should have done sooner. For the first time in my life I felt every bit of pain I’d dealt and been dealt all at once. It was excruciating, and there are no words for the shame and regret I felt over it all.
And then I bowed before Him and begged for his forgiveness. All I wanted was to accept the salvation he had provided through Jesus, His son. I knew I couldn’t continue until I was washed away and made new by his grace and love for me. As soon as I did I felt it. This overwhelming presence pressing down on my spirit until it burst. With that burst I began bawling like a baby. Tears of pure joy came out of me and all I could think to do was praise God and thank him for his incredible mercy. It felt like forever that I sat there rejoicing in tears because God had just sent the Holy Spirit through me and cleansed me to my core. I was saved by God’s grace.
Before I finally fell asleep that night I knew what my next step was. So as soon as I got the chance to talk to my parents the next day I told them I wanted to be baptized. I wasn’t able to explain to them what had happened to be, but they seemed to understand well enough and were so happy for me. After speaking with our preacher a date was eventually set. The day before my seventeenth birthday my church group gathered at the river running by the town, and I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. From that day on I steadily grew in my knowledge of the Bible of my own accord. To this day I seek God’s guidance in all things for he is my Lord, my Father, my Savior.
My journey with God is far from over, I know, so it doesn’t make much sense to record my life story when I’m only nineteen. If there is one thing I know, however, it is that beginnings are the most difficult to understand. I doubt I will ever ever truly understand why my brother’s death lead me to pursue God rather than breaking my spirit. Or why it took a fictional story of a Roman being saved to save me. There is no logic to it, but considering logic is a manmade concept I’m not too worried about that. I am more than satisfied with the personal knowledge that my soul belongs entirely to God as long as I keep to the path He has laid before me.
In essence my faith came from tragedy. It found me at my darkest and gradually lifted me into the light. The trials and blessings I endured after that tragedy allowed me become wholly devoted to God, and only made my faith grow stronger. So I tell you who have no faith to let it find you, and when it does to see where it takes you. Hang on to it through the trials and you will find grace waiting for you. To those who already have faith: let the tragedies and the trials come. Let them batter you until you feel you are almost broken. It is when you are at your lowest that God can bring you highest.

© 2016 Natasha Reams

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Added on April 15, 2016
Last Updated on April 15, 2016
Tags: Christian, God, Faith, Salvation, Tragedy, Nonfiction, Religious


Natasha Reams
Natasha Reams

Anderson, AK

Hi, thanks for reading my stuff in advance. I LOVE wolves, and supernatural romances are my favorite books. I have two dogs (one of which is named Samwise Gamgee so I'm pretty nerdy) and I used to own.. more..

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