I recently connected with Linda Bello-Ruiz on Linkedin. She’s the author of the multi-award-winning memoir, From Tears to Triumph-My Journey to The House of Hope. This story she is sharing with us today is how God changed the direction of her life when she cried out to Him. It’s truly a beautiful story and I know you will love it as much as I do. Linda has also agreed to write a few more stories about the many other times God has changed the direction of her life. She has been on an incredible journey with God and I can’t wait for you to get to know her more.
I asked God for a sign & then I resisted it ~ By Linda Bello-Ruiz
At the age of twenty, I sat on a San Francisco beach and looked honestly at my young tumultuous life. As the waves broke on the beach, a vision rose before me. I felt as if my identity, dignity and dreams had been plunked into a blender and now lay at my feet, shredded beyond recognition. And although I couldn’t articulate the depth of my despair, I knew the consequences of my life choices were staring me straight in the face.
In a two-year period, I had left home in a rush to be free and independent, been kicked out of a boarding house for breaking rules, hooked up with a man I hardly knew, listened to no one’s advice, allowed the man to humiliate me time and time again, stood on a street corner to prostitute, been beaten up and run for my life, and, had even aborted an innocent child. Where could I put all of this hurt and shame?
I saw myself running around the rim of an empty jar, wanting so much good from life, but never jumping in, never totally committing myself to good. My hope for a life as I’d once imagined it collapsed under the weight of my bad choices.
My eyes followed a young man as he walked into the waves and my thoughts turned to death. Wouldn’t it be easier just to walk out into the ocean and keep walking until I drowned? Wouldn’t it feel better to die and silence the accusing voices in my head—those voices that called me a no-good loser, a nobody, a baby-killer?
At that moment, I cried out inside, God, if you’re real . . . show me.
Over the years, I periodically thought about God, but shut the thought down—too scared to even think that God might be real and not just a childhood fairy tale. For years, I had walked alone trying to find my own way, only to end up battered and shattered on that San Francisco beach.
I stared out into the vast ocean, feeling small and insignificant. “Please, God, show me you’re real. I want to know,” I cried. Having hit bottom, with no place to go, I dared Him to show me His existence.
Within moments, I heard guitar music and young people singing. I opened my eyes and looked around. A group of eight hippie-looking kids were walking down the beach in our direction. They drew near and in groups of two or three talked with people on the beach. A dark-haired man in shorts and tee-shirt, along with a smiling young woman wearing a granny skirt and a colorful peasant blouse, sat down on the sand next to me. She took off her sandals, scrunched her toes into the sand and smiled. “Hi,” she said. “My name is Joy.”
To put the record straight—I didn’t like Jesus people. Christians and Jesus people, to me, were people who were boring and too good to have fun. I didn’t want to be a square, no-fun person. It was bad enough being tall and overweight. But to be a Christian on top of that? I’d never have cool friends.
Now here I was in the presence of Jesus people, and was keeping an emotional distance. The couple continued to sing song after song and recite Bible verses. “Jesus came to heal the sick,” Joy said. “He came to save you.”
Their eyes and faces glowed with a bright light and deep inside it hurt to look at them. Even so, I sensed they cared, really cared about me. But Christianity wasn’t the answer I was looking for.
I bowed my head in shame. “If God really is real, then He knows all the bad things I’ve done,” I said. “I’m not worthy . . . of anything.” I felt the warm tears on my cheeks and noticed a few of them falling onto the sand, making tiny wet spots.
“Jesus came to save the sinners, not those who believe they’re perfect,” Joy said. “Jesus accepts you just the way you are.”
The sun began to set as the remaining members of this band of merry Jesus-people gathered to form a circle around me.
Finally, the intensity of their message broke through. I began to cry and then sob. The emotional dam that had held back so much sadness and despair broke wide open. I was ready for change.
Something magical happened. Those eighteen words from the sinner’s prayer brought immediate comfort to the searing pain inside me. A weight lifted from my body and soul and I could breathe. The heavy blanket that had been covering my entire being disappeared. I raised my head and smiled as eight young hippies clapped their hands.
We ALL have a story. What’s YOUR story? I’d love to hear it!
Linda can be contacted through her website at: http://www.lindabelloruiz.com