Welcome to Songs of Salvation, a Sunday feature. Each week I will feature a different Christian author to share their "Song of Salvation", a post that is intended to uplift, encourage and glorify God.
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11 NLT
Authors, find out how to share your Song of Salvation here.
I used to say that I didn’t have a testimony. This seemed abundantly apparent during a mission trip I went on to Puerto Rico. Person after person, I heard these remarkable stories of how God had saved them from abandonment to abuse, drugs and alcohol to dropping out of school. My life seemed predictable at best, and my testimony, short.
I grew up in a godly home, one where both my parents were active in church ministry and later on in my childhood they both became pastors. They married young and are married still and raised my two sisters and I in a home that knew no abuse, divorce, drugs or alcohol, affair or lack. There were many years we didn’t have much, but we never went without.
I followed in-toe, as many do after their parents. I loved church since childhood, know all the Bible time stories, can quote scriptures in the NKJV and even went to private school until 8th grade. I stayed on the straight and narrow through high school, losing every friend I had except my sister. I didn’t party, drink or date really. And when I did date I stayed pure. College was the same.
Standing in front of a room full of Puerto Rican teenagers, this just didn’t seem to be relatable at all. I’m a church kid. They say “tell your story” but that didn’t seem like a “story,” it seemed like a one-liner, a brief description, or simply a tag line. Shelley Black, pastor’s kid, good girl. Boring.
It wasn’t until after that trip, that year, even that season ended that I realized… that was my testimony.
For two reasons.
One. Because I grew up in a godly home, I have never known a day without knowing God’s love, His presence and the reality that if I would simply call upon His name He would be there. My life has been built upon godly values, biblical standards and strict parenting, all which kept me from seeking life in the world because I already had one in God. That doesn’t mean that it’s always been easy, but it does mean that I’ve always had a foundation to press into when the waves crashed. And they did crash.
As the poor girl at a rich school I was bullied heavily (like most it seems) in the years before I went to public school. I was daily laughed at, ridiculed and shamed. Head held low I learned early not to base my identity on what others said about me, simply because I didn’t like what they had to say.
High school was lonely (for most again, though few will admit it openly). I held few friends as I pursued God and chose a life different from those around me. I went to school, worked hard and was already dedicated in many areas of our local church. So goes college.
Then both my sisters got engaged (2 weeks apart), married (a few months apart), and a few years later they began having babies (again, only a few months apart from each other). Life seemed to race by for them and I was… waiting. It was hard. Hard is an understatement at best. My soul ached with loneliness that drenched my life in grief and depression. For years.
So though I knew God from an early age it wasn’t until almost my thirties that I realized it was more religion than relationship, more about doing right than knowing Him and it left me empty, desperate for a different way.
Which brings us to reason number two. I was a pastor’s kid, which meant my parent’s faith was my faith almost by default. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I’m just saying it wasn’t mine. I believed what they believed, prayed how they prayed, went where they went, but when I found myself alone I didn’t seem to have the depth I thought I should and found myself to be a shallow shell of the girl I used to be. I went to church every Sunday with a smile on my face but was dying inside. I felt completely alone as if the heavens were sealed shut and God had gone silent. I knew He was there, but it seemed He was opposite an impenetrable wall and I could only believe with fading hope that He was still there.
This is where the story of me savoring single begins, not because I was writing my story, but because my life needed an awakening and the “Savoring Single” book became the testimony after the storm cleared.
Though I didn’t have the words that day in Puerto Rico, today my testimony is now this:
Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and resurrected so that I could know Him through a more intimate relationship than I am capable of knowing outside of Him. He then sent His Holy Spirit to forever abolish loneliness and so that I would be confident that no matter the circumstance He would still be near. But like any gift that must be first received and then opened, I knew God by heritage but not from a personal walk with Him. See, I lived knowing about Him but really not knowing Him. I pursued other relationships to silence the pains of loneliness, while He was waiting to comfort me. I lived as if I were unloved and unchosen, having forgotten that I was already both even before I was born. I thought He died to wash my sins away, but He died to wash my sins away so I could walk with Him in the most important relationship of my life.
So yes, I may have the old “Hello. My name is Shelley Black, pastor’s kid” label that represents a rich heritage born into and raised from, but it has since developed into a personal faith that transcends the belief of those before me into a rich relationship with God of my own. This has made all the difference. This is where my life truly changed. And this is why I am now savoring single, no longer alone but satisfied in Him.