It’s no secret that I’ve had a troubled life. The first period of my life was marked with abandonment, abuse, guilt and repression when I was too young to realize others could have helped me if only I would have spoken up. Then, those experiences setup the second period of my life to be marked with manipulative relationships and a series of really bad decisions.
Now, things have calmed down, and the period in which I find myself now is bittersweet; happiness and fulfillment with life as a mother to three beautiful children yet discontentment and dis-empowerment with life as a wife to a man who is way more clever and calculating than me. Sometimes I feel blessed beyond imagination, and other days I feel stupid and insignificant.
During the dark times in my life, I have often struggled with my spiritual faith.
My upbringing was immersed in pentecostal church services and an expectation to continue the evangelical ideologies in which I was raised. When I was 18, I spent a year at a Bible college in Dallas, Texas because that’s what my parents wanted me to do, and life was easier if they were happy.
While there, I met a boy named Scott, and we became (platonic) friends. Scott wanted to visit with his family, so he invited me to spend a weekend at his family’s house in Houston. His father was a minister for a local congregation so of course we attended the Sunday service while there. It was a day that has forever had an influence on me and kept me hanging on when I’ve felt like giving up.
Scott’s father was preaching and talking about how God desires to “give good things to them that ask Him.” [Matthew 7:11] He explained that the scripture probably wasn’t talking about winning the lottery or flashy cars or a hilltop mansion. Instead, he compared it to when you take the kids shopping and end up buying them a small treat like a bag of candy or a small trinket. He then asked everyone to think of something small and attainable that would have significant personal meaning.
I didn’t have to think for long.
Ever since fifth grade, I had always wanted a flute. At the public school I was attending at that time, fifth grade was the time the school offered entry-level music lessons. For months prior to fifth grade, I had talked about playing the flute. However, when the time came to complete the paperwork in fifth grade, my mother worked her emotionally manipulative tactics on me.
I wanted to play the flute. She wanted me to play the violin. After berating the flute and extolling the violin, after three days, I gave in and consented to playing the violin. Well, as you can imagine, since my heart was not committed to playing the violin, I quickly lost interest in practicing. Eventually I dropped out of lessons altogether.
To add insult to injury, for the next ten years, whenever I would talk about interest in music lessons for flute, I would be reminded about how I’d never stuck with the violin. I did eventually teach myself to play a little guitar, but my parents were never going to “waste their money” on real music lessons on any instrument because I had been such a failure in fifth grade with the violin.
So, as I was sitting there in that church service contemplating a real, attainable gift that God could bless my life with, all I could think about was: A Flute.
In that moment, Scott’s father started asking a couple people to share what they were asking God for. Then he came over to me and asked what gift God could give to me, and I said, “A flute.”
A hush fell over the entire congregation. I wondered if I had asked for something inappropriate. The fact was that Scott’s father, the minister was speechless.
It turns out that several months prior, a beloved church member had moved away and had donated a flute to the church. This flute had been sitting in the minister’s office and they’d had one roadblock after another trying to find a home for it!
Also, ironically enough, the church member who had donated the flute happened to be visiting friends in town and was in attendance at the service that night.
So many different things fell into place and came together that night. I’m often struck at how fortuitous it was that I was there that night and that the flute donator was there and that they even had a flute. What if I had asked for something else?
At the end of the evening, the church generously gave me the flute. The lady who donated the flute told me her story about how it had helped her through rough times in her life and had a similar life story to my own.
That was over 20 years ago, but I still have that flute. It’s traversed cross country with me and back again. It has stayed with me through every move. When people ask me why I have faith that there is a God despite the hardships and tragedies in life, I just look at my flute.
It gives me hope, and that’s why I try to stay strong.