His Love Gently Fathering Me

Hello, hello!

Why don’t you grab a cup of hot coffee and settle into a comfy recliner as I share my story with you today?

Hi, I’m Nancy Guenther. I was born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite family, as many (maybe most??) of you were. It was a large family. Isn’t that surprising? ;) By the time I was born, there were 7 of us: two girls, boy, girl, two boys, and me. I was followed by 4 more boys. I love having grown up with a ton of sibs.

Looking back, I see that my life has been nothing short of amazing, although not easy. It’s not been absolutely awful either, but rather an incredible mixture of awesome and awful. Good and bad. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. I see the marks of God all over it, from the day I was born (quite literally) until today, the day I sit here and attempt to tell you about it. I really wish I could share the details of many of the events and circumstances, simply cuz God’s been so good and gracious in all of it, but I hear the clock ticking and you have to get onto other things yet. And so do I.

So, my childhood...I was a crazy emotional child. So dramatic. Happy-go-lucky one minute; angry and feisty the next. Very moody and such a cry-baby. I got teased by my bros a lot. I hated them so much, but loved and adored them way more. I have many good memories with them, playing and working together as kids. But even as a kid, I had this keen awareness that life wasn't all that it should be or could be.

I went through all of school in private schools which really shaped me and planted tons of seeds in my heart about God, His ways, and righteousness. Having a very conservative school setting and curriculum, I had high standards for myself. Plus, my Mom had many standards for us. Especially me, I think. I’m grateful for all of it, even though I developed a self-righteous and legalistic mindset. My main prayer as a kid was that God would help me be good (of which I, later on, had to repent of because I realized that my desire to be good was short of Grace). Despite my pleas to God, I was so not good at being good. I was very conflicted and wanted to do good, but also wanted to do so many bad things. Then, I’d feel so bad doing the things I wasn’t supposed to do. My heart and soul was in such turmoil. To make it worse, I learned one thing at school, but experienced a whole ‘nother thing at home. It was confusing.

I entered my teen years inwardly confused, miserable, and upset even though on the outside most people couldn’t tell. Thanks or no thanks to my naturally loud, talkative, extroverted personality. I hid a lot of things from people, but my journals knew as my pen tried to keep up with my brain. Not many would’ve guessed that I was processing all kinds of deep and painful things. I often had dreams that scared me to tears, but never shared them with anyone. Now I see that they were demonic manifestations of what the enemy was trying to do in my life. Emotional pain seemed to come out of nowhere. I battled feelings of rejection, pain, and anger. School was a haven during all the crazy of home life.

By the age of 13, I had a pretty clear picture in my mind of what my life would look like: I would go through HS, get my diploma, go to college, and then get married to the guy of my dreams and have kids. In my second year of HS, the Lord convicted me so strongly to give my heart to Him and surrender my plans. I did. I was 15. I found sweet rest and peace in my soul, trusting my life into His hands. For awhile. Then, I began to struggle and question and freak out.

Loong story short, I tried to take control and messed up a bunch of things. Then, I blamed God. Eventually, I tried to convince myself that He doesn’t exist. “Even if He does exist, He obviously doesn’t care about me!” I thought bitterly. Relationships with all my closest people were suffering. I was angry, cold, insensitive. I wanted so badly to die. All I saw and felt was darkness. Suicide looked like my only relief. One evening, at the age of 17, realizing how messed up I was and how messed up I’d gotten everything, I broke down. I cried for the first time in a really long time. I had so hardened my heart that tears were a thing of the past. But now, the walls broke and a torrent of emotions burst through in the form of sobs and tears. Pain. Fear. Sorrow. Regret. I sat there weeping and Jesus gently spoke, “Give it all to Me.”

I hesitated. Then, when I couldn’t bear it anymore, I cried “Oh Jesus, I give everything to You. You can have it all.” I rededicated my life to Christ that day. November 2010.

There was Light.

Peace. Relief. Joy. Rest. Slowly, it settled in. Many things changed that day. I really was a new person, but had many things to learn, unlearn, and relearn. I’m still on that journey, really.

It’s been an absolutely crazy journey and I used to wonder (not so much anymore) why it was/is so hard. I can’t pretend that everything was sunshine and rainbows after that and I won’t either. One thing I have learned though, is that following Jesus is absolutely worth it. I've tried time and again to do things on my own, but He is so much better than
anyone or anything I could orchestrate for myself! I learned that through heart-rending surrender of my own will, dreams, and desires, Jesus is so good!

(By the way, you may want to grab another cup of coffee before I get into the rest of this.)

Having surrendered my will to Christ's, the war begun and the attacks were getting strong. Hope seemed to be losing and God was not at all who I thought He was. Once again, darkness settled in. So many things were changing as I hit adulthood. Loss. Change. Pain. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Failure. Defeat. More nightmares and demonic visions. (Some of this may seem really crazy to you, but I'm just gonna be super real with you) It was a downward spiral. Disillusionment and defeat turned to spiritual oppression and depression I was beginning to conclude I’d just forever live with. I now suffered from an eating disorder/unhealthy relationship to food. I was addicted, helpless, and with only a thin shred of hope. I wanted to die. “Just take me home, Jesus” was the cry of my heart. But there HAD to be hope and freedom for this life. I heard of others who’d been set free of similar and some much “worse” issues. God just began to pour so so much love on me during all of this. It's so bittersweet to think back.

So, anyway, I went for help. I sought out a counselor and then moved away from home. That was in April 2014. I was baptized at LGC the same month. I went to conferences and read books. I soaked in worship music, pouring out my heart before God, day in and day out. Slowly but surely, as I shared struggles and experiences, acknowledged lies I was believing, and learned Truth, healing began to happen. I had people minister to me, pray over me, lead me in prayer in renouncing the enemy..there’s a bunch of things that came into play, but, bit by bit, I was being changed, transformed, and set free. God gave me words and visions of new life. It was a tough battle between Light and darkness. Healing and self-destruction. Life and death. But Life prevailed. Hallelujah!!

Some changes were slow and seemingly minor. Some changes were immediate, massive, and major. One of the most life-changing things has been to hear and experience the love of my heavenly Father. I had many gaping father wounds that had been there ever since I was a baby. That story really is another whole story on its own. It’s one thing to know in your head that God loves you and is a father to you; it’s another whole thing to experience that love and have it flow over you and seep into the deep and hollow places of your heart and fill you. And change you. It's been the single most life-changing experience.

All in all, it’s a story of in and out. Good and bad. Up and down. High and low. Ugly and beautiful. Painful and glorious. But, more than that, it’s a story of how God’s been gently fathering me. He's giving me all things needed for life and godliness and is equipping me, day by day, to partner in His work. I have the incredible privilege of being a part of His Kingdom come...

“The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.

He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.”
-Psalm 23

And this is my story... Blessings and love!♥
Nancy Guenther
Lighthouse Gospel Church

P.S. Click here to follow me on my personal blog of stories of my life and things God is teaching me ☺

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