The power of my choice
The season of living like a pig lasted about six months, during this time my first husband and I were separated. He was never someone I could lean on sadly, so when I went down my path of destruction he followed and went down his own path of destruction. We were separated but neither one of us could have been bothered to find a new home so we still both lived in the same home. Weird, I know! After we both got bored with it all, we got back together again as husband and wife. I can’t remember the details, but somehow we found our way back to God too. We repented and continued with our marriage as if nothing had happened. A few years later our daughter Jordan was born and we lived what seemed like a normal Christian family life. Skip a few more years, a few seasons of good times and a few seasons of hard times, you know – normal life. I became bored with life and life’s struggles, I wanted a better life and I needed more adventure. My husband was without a job yet again and I was fed up of the cycle, so I suggested that we move from South Africa to England, to start a new life. The country was different, the people were different but I was NOT different. Adventure enticed me away from church. To be honest church was boring. I didn’t want another picnic in the park or another service where the preaching told me that I wasn’t good enough yet.
I wanted to feel alive!
My new job and my new friends made me feel alive. They liked me; they thought I was clever, they thought I was fun. I had found new computer skills that I didn’t know I had and respect from my colleagues that I had never experienced before. After being a stay at home mom most of my life I found this new me quite fun. I had reinvented myself. I was no longer a stay at home mother who was a great cook and good at changing nappies. I had discovered something way more interesting inside of me. I was a clever business woman now and I was attractive to my male colleagues. Again, something I had never experienced before - I had never seen myself as this sort of woman. The adventure had begun, life had become interesting and I loved it. I started working longer hours so that I could go to the pub afterwards with my work friends. Going to the pub turned into going away for weekends which turned into an intense party lifestyle. This time it was different, I wasn’t partying with unemployed bums who had no ambition, I was partying with hard working professionals who needed to let their hair down. I felt alive for the first time in ages, I was impressed that there was more to me than I ever realised.
Men noticed me.
The men at work must have found this sparkle attractive as I was constantly hit on by my male colleagues. I enjoyed the attention as I hadn’t felt attractive in a very long time. One man however, made it his mission to catch this married woman. I guess his thrill was to get something that he shouldn’t have. He came on strong and I accepted some of his invitations as they were fun. He spent lots of money on me and took me to places that I had never been to. Literally. He took me to London and up North.
I was lured by all his attention and I enjoyed living the fine life eating at fine restaurants and driving in fancy cars. At the time I lived in a shabby council bed and breakfast and coming home to this every day was severely depressing. His apartment was gorgeous and I was welcome to stay there any time. So I did. I stayed over regularly and thought that is was fine as I hadn’t ‘crossed the line’. I wasn’t having an affair because we weren’t having sex. I fooled myself into thinking that it was OK; I was just having some well deserved fun! After all, life had been very difficult in the past few years. How foolish can one girl be! This guy wasn’t going to be happy with giving and giving all this time and money while I gave nothing back.
He began to pressure me for sex and I kept saying no. He continued to seduce me and flatter me until I couldn’t resist any more. Although I really wasn’t interested in having sex with him, I did feel that I owed it to him. So history repeated itself. Same story, just different people and a different country, this time with two innocent children caught in the middle.
I clearly remember the day I chose the wrong path. It was a lovely summer’s evening and the children were tucked in bed sound asleep. Standing by the unlit fireplace, with a glass of wine in my hand, I prayed to God. In all my good seasons and bad seasons I always talked to God. I loved Him, I truly did. Looking back, I can see that He has been with me through it all and it breaks my heart thinking about how much I must have hurt Him.
On one occasion I was chatting to God about my life of partying and drinking. I was standing by a lit electric fire with a nice glass of red wine in my hand. Christina worship music was playing softly in the background as I had just finished singing my heart out to God. I loved God and I loved to worship Him. It was a special moment and I felt close to God. It was then that I strongly felt God saying that I have to make a choice between the two paths that were before me. One was to continue as I was with the understanding that it would lead to destruction and the other was to repent and go down a new path with Him. Laughing out loud, I said to God,
“I know that this path is wrong but I am having so much fun! You probably want me to go down the other path but I can’t, I feel so alive, I need to be happy.”
The words that I spoke and what I felt in that moment is permanently etched in my mind. I foolishly chose to continue down the path of drinking and destruction. I said in response to God’s kind and pleading offer,
“I know I will get hurt in the end but I can’t let go of it, so I choose to keep going down this path.”
That was the end of my conversation with God. It was also the last time I heard His voice for quite some time. My life on the path of ‘fun’ continued. I was living it up with prodigal living in London, enjoying the attention of men, fine dining and all the fun that money could buy. I had gone from a nice Christian, South African housewife to a woman with a career, money and the attention of men, men who noticed me for my brains as well as my body. I liked this as it was new to me; I had always been a stay at home mom who felt stupid and worthless as a woman. The excitement thrilled me and I was swept up by the adventure of it all.
Once again I was leading a double life which quickly caught up with me. My husband and children were in one life in Crawley and the ‘fun’ was in another life that was about an hour’s train ride away – in London. One life was based in a dodgy council home in Crawley and the other life was based in a luxury London apartment. My time in London increased from the odd day trip to every weekend. In time even that wasn’t enough, so I decided that I needed to live in London permanently. I told my children that once I was settled into a new home and new job I would fetch them to live with me.
Looking back I am so ashamed. Imagine the confusion that these little ones must have felt. One minute we lived in South Africa leading a lovely, ordinary, Christian family life and then the next minute we were in England with a mommy living like a party animal away from daddy, in London.
It’s horrible to think that when I made my choice to have ‘fun’ they had no choice at all. It’s shameful to think that while I was enjoying the attention of the new men in my life, they were losing the attention that they craved from their mother. Worst of all, it is disgusting to think that they will read this book and weep over how stupid their mother was. I weep every time I read this paragraph, even though I am free from my guilt and shame, my girls have still not yet discovered the truth of what happened. My girls are so precious to me and they didn’t deserve this at all. It is so very sad that little ones so precious are so often left with no choice at all. Lorah and Jordan, I am truly sorry that I was so selfish most of my life – you really did deserve so much better than this.
The next time I heard God’s voice was a few months after I decided to take the path that was most fun. I was sitting on the floor in the home where my husband and children lived. This was before I made my final move to London; I was still living in two places between two lives. With a bottle of wine in my one hand and a razor blade in the other, I sat contemplating suicide. I no longer felt alive and life was not fun anymore. My life was a complete mess and I had lost all hope. Sitting on the floor feeling hurt, alone and drunk, I desperately wanted a way out of it all. As I sat on the floor, slicing my wrists with the razor blade, I heard God’s voice say to me,
“Angela, the next cut on your wrist will do the job. If you cut yourself again you will die. Is this what you want? It is your choice but I am warning you that the next cut will be your final one. What do you want?”
What happened to all the fun? Alive was not what I felt now. My sin had caught up with me and it was time to pay the price. The bible is crystal clear about what the price is.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That night God gave me the very powerful choice that He gives all of us in the Bible,
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
I quickly sobered up as I realised the reality of my situation. Lorah and Jordan’s faces flashed before me in my mind and I realised how much my death would hurt them. Realising my selfishness, I decided that I didn’t want to leave them in this way. Nevertheless the urge to die was still strong. A tug of war was in progress deep within my soul as I sat contemplating the consequences of leaving my children through suicide. Satan wanted my life to end this way but God knew that I still had a future and a hope . I fought in my mind, I wrestled in my heart and then finally the decision was made. I let out the deepest cry I have ever cried and I said to God;
“I want to live but I don’t know how to, please help me!”
In all my wrong choices and all my flings and affairs all I really wanted was passion and adventure! ‘What a stupid thing to say’ you might be thinking to yourself. You are probably either a really “good” person who has never done much wrong in your life which means you certainly don’t want to read any more of this book, or you are someone who is as screwed up as I was and totally understand what I am saying! In fact even if you are the “good” person, I’m sure that there is something inside of you that loves the adventure and drama of my story or else you wouldn’t still be reading this book to see what happens next! That, my precious friend, is you longing for passion and adventure too. We were made to be passionate, some more than others, and clearly I was blessed with an extra dose of this desire! Sadly in my case, the desire for passion that God had given me was channelled into all the wrong places because of my lack of purity. Passion and purity together can lead to the most extraordinary, deeply satisfying life. Passion without a pure heart before God can lead you into all sorts of trouble. Passion is not bad; it is how God made us. Passion without purpose is where the danger comes in. I have plenty of passion but what I lacked was purpose and purity.
After my encounter with God I made a firm decision to sort myself out. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I knew I had a lot of work to do to get myself back on track. Making the choice was half the battle won. Even though I knew I had loads of ‘fixing’ to do, I knew that I had already won a part of the battle by simply making the right choice this time. God clearly warned me that this would happen that evening that I made the wrong decision as I stood by the fireplace with my nice glass of wine in my hand. He warned me of the consequences but still he gave me the freedom to choose. It must have grieved Him deeply when I made that choice. He must have grieved over my rejection of walking with Him and He must have grieved knowing the pain I was going to have to endure. Looking back, I recognised what I fool I had been choosing that path! Things were going to be different now, for the first time in my life I made the right choice. From that moment forward it was one hundred percent all the way on the ‘God path’. I made a firm decision that this was the only way for me for the rest of my LIFE!
Something inside of me had changed, I could feel it. It was the power of my choice. For the first time in my life I really meant business with God, I wasn’t interested in dabbling any more, I wanted the real thing and I wanted all that I could have. My search for passion now was going to be focused on the search for a passionate love affair with Jesus. The decision was made and there was no turning back ever again. I longed for passion. I knew this was my ultimate weakness. All my life, since I was a little girl, I had been so desperate for love and adventure. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel this way. God made me this way. He made me passionate so that He could be caught up in a beautiful romance with Jesus. Sadly, I had no idea that this was what it was all about. All I knew was what I felt and that what I felt was never satisfied. One thing I knew for sure was that the devil was not going to trip me up with this weakness of mine. Never again, NOT EVER! No longer was I blind to his trap and was determined to steer clear of it no matter what this meant I had to do.
Months passed and the rebuilding of my life became agonizingly painful. Pain which could have been avoided easily if I had chosen a different path to start off with! God was tender and merciful to me in so many ways as I struggled to rebuild my broken life. After what I had done to Him, I knew that I really didn’t deserve any of the grace and mercy that He was giving me.
My mother was a pillar of strength for me and without her love and support I don’t know how I would have made it. She had no idea what I had been up to and what I had been through. I guess she simply thought I was hurting because my first marriage failed. The truth is my marriage hadn’t failed, I had. My first husband was happy to work things out yet again. He was willing to pretend like nothing happened AGAIN and carry on from where we left off. I knew that it just wasn’t going to work; I had to sort myself out on my own. Clearly there was something very wrong with me or else I wouldn’t have gone through exactly the same situation twice in one marriage!
My most amazing mother flew me out to her in home in Denver, Colorado where I spent a month going through an intense healing process with God. It was as if God had placed me in his heavenly operating theatre. Oh how I didn’t deserve any of what He did for me and any of what my mother did for me. I was the filthiest, vilest, most selfish person on the planet and I only deserved to be stoned to death as the adulterous women were in Bible times (and in some countries still today).
During this time God cleaned me up and showed me the way forward. I spend a lot of time crying and repenting. Many days I wondered how God could love me or even look at me. I had intentionally chosen paths in my life against His will and His clear warnings. How on earth could He still love me? Why was He being so nice and kind to me now, after all I had done? Oh precious grace! I never quite understood what grace meant until I had experienced it. This is grace – His love poured out over me despite what I have done and where I have been. It is His mercy given freely to me even though I don’t deserve it. Most of all, His son, Jesus, spilled His precious blood for me so that at this very moment in time I can be forgiven and given another brand new start. I never thought the story of the prodigal son was very fair, and I still don’t, but I can tell you that I am so glad that it exists. If it weren’t for that story I don’t know what would have become of me.
While God tenderly healed me and worked on my messed up heart, He also gave me a vision for the future. He told me that it’s OK that I longed for passion but it needs to be expressed in His way for His purposes.
More chapter snippets about how I found passion and God's purpose will follow soon, find out more about the book here.