This is My Story

   When I was told of the theme of the blog posts this year, I was thrown for a bit of a loop. My story? Like what part? The whole thing? You want me to write an autobiography of my whole life? I’m too young for that. It didn’t get any easier as the year went on. My mind has gone back to it over and over and I’m still not sure how this is going to go. My story is so different and I feel often that my life is so un-relatable to many. But it is my story nonetheless, and I’m praying that God can use some part of it to encourage even one other person.

   I was born the oldest of eight kids. Looking back, growing up at my house was pretty great. I was homeschooled from JK right through grade 12 and I always liked it. I know my mom made a lot of sacrifices to homeschool all of us but to this day, I appreciate it so much. There are so many lessons I learned from her that I can’t imagine ever having learned anywhere else. She taught us to ask why God allowed things to happen, not to simply accept them. She taught us to dig deeper into Bible verses to really explore what they meant, and she encouraged us to learn the lessons God was trying to teach us the first time. She said that there were certain lessons that God needed to teach us and if we didn’t learn them the first time, He would teach it in harder and harder way; not because He was angry with us, but because He loved us enough to make sure we learned them.

   I accepted Jesus as my Saviour when I was three years old. There are those who have tried to tell me that children that young can’t grasp salvation at that age but I distinctly remember hearing my Sunday school teacher telling us that everyone had done bad things and needed forgiveness. It was a Good Friday and my mom was cooking oatmeal in the kitchen. I went to her and told her that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. I remember she and my dad praying with me and then we went to church. My dad carried me in and asked me to tell Pastor Hamm what I had done. I firmly believe that children are capable of understanding so much more than we give them credit for and it is never too early to plant seeds.

   When you grow up in a Christian home, it is easy to simply make your parents standards your own without ever really making them your own. Even though I’m sure it was nerve-wracking for them, my parents allowed me to take part in training and service opportunities all over the place. I went to courses in Dallas and Indianapolis, worked in a hotel in Michigan, and volunteered at a training centre in Illinois. These times were so important for me to find out what I truly believed and stood for apart from my parents faith. This was a huge time of growth for me. I was independent enough to be able to make a lot of my own choices but protected enough not to make huge mistakes.

   When I was fourteen, I went to a counselling seminar and was challenged by a young woman in regards to relationships and my thought life. She said that often thinking about boys and centring our conversations around them detracts from what God really wants to do in our lives. She challenged us to make a commitment not to think or talk about relationships or crushes for a certain period of time. I thought it sounded very difficult but decided to try it for six months. (That was the shortest amount of time she mentioned. LOL) I was surprised  with how much my friendships were based around those kind of conversations. It felt like my friends and I didn’t have a lot to talk about then but in time, it because easier and I know it deepened my friendships in the long run. I decided to trust my dad with my heart and made the commitment to courtship (not casually dating but waiting until God sent someone that had the potential to be a life partner). I was definitely far from perfect but these things served to give me a foundation for my life.

   Part of my commitment to courtship meant that any guy that was interested in me went to my dad first. God has given dads so much wisdom, if they choose to use it, and I knew that I could trust my dad to protect me from guys that would not be right for me or would come before the time was right. I’m so glad I did! A young man that I really liked had come to my dad just after I left for Illinois and asked if he could go out with me. My dad asked him to wait as he knew how much the experience of working for this ministry meant to me. Five months later I came home both for Christmas and to help my mom as she was expecting a baby.

   On January 2nd, I had a dentist appointment. I hate the dentist on a normal day but this trip was particularly bad. When the dentist injected the freezing stuff into my cheek, he hit a nerve. It was very painful but I didn’t realize the damage until I woke up the next morning and my face was just as frozen as when he injected it. It turns out that when a nerve is damaged in this way, you just have to wait for it to heal. He said it could take anywhere from three weeks to three months. Insert horror and many tears here. On January 3rd is when my parents had decided to tell me about this guy (JP) wanting to go out with me. I was so surprised and excited. We had our first date that evening and the fact that he still wanted to go out with me even though I had a totally frozen face for the next three months was a pretty big indication that he was in for the long haul. We were married nine months later. Many people wondered if we were rushing things a bit. I was only 18. But God had a plan and He knew it was exactly the right time.

   About six months after we were married, JP’s mom was diagnosed with cancer. It was a very hard time for everyone and about seven months later, she passed away. About a year and a half later, the oldest at home got married, followed by two more getting married in the next few months and one moving out. As their father hadn’t lived in the home for years, that left the two youngest needing a home. If we had waited to get married, we likely would not have had his mom at our wedding and the two girls would have had to go to a home with a newly married couple. This way, they were able to come and live with us for the next year and a half. This was a hard time for them as well as us but a time I have often wished I could go back to, having the knowledge and experience that I do now. They were hurting, we were hurting and, being 20, I just didn’t have the proper tools to help them the way I wish I could have.

    Fast forward through the next number of years. We had really hoped for children of our own but God wasn’t opening that door so I tried a variety of jobs in different fields. After going through about two or three, I landed at Mt. Salem Christian School. I had never thought I would be a teacher. My childhood best friend was and I often told her that I didn’t know how she could do it. But after just one day coming in to help cover a class in an emergency, I fell in love with both the job and the kids. The years I have spent at MSCS (7 so far) have taught me more lessons than I could possibly count. Lessons like, kids watch way more than they listen so the way adults in their lives act matters incredibly; I learned that everything has to do with God. There is no such thing as a lesson or subject that can be taught where it isn’t relatable to God or His principles. I have seen that Christians have just as many issues as anyone else. Sometimes the ugliness of people’s attitudes and responses surprises and hurts me. But I go back to the kids and see that childlike faith and know I have to keep forgiving, stop looking at people and look back at Jesus so I can emulate Him to “my” kids. Even though I haven’t been able to have biological children, God has brought over 100 kids through my classroom as well as countless other kids through other avenues as well. Hard as it is to believe some times, He has given both JP and I perfect peace about not pursuing pregnancy or even adoption at this time. God’s plan is unique for each person and my job is to make sure I am following Him, no matter what.

   This is not my whole story. There have been many mistakes I have made, lessons I haven’t learned the first time, and intense times of struggle, including dealing with anxiety and burnout. But God has been by my side through every one of them, even when I couldn’t feel Him at the time. This story may look nothing like yours but I guarantee there is one very important similarity: the same God who has brought me through and is still leading me through desires to do the same for you, if you will let Him. Let these times become powerful parts of your story.

Sherry Peters
Beacon Bible Chapel

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