My Road To Surrender

We all have our story of what brought us to the feet of Jesus, that defining moment in our lives that just lead us to surrender it all. Or maybe you were raised in church and always felt the presence of God in your life, and never had the desire to turn away. Personally, I've always loved hearing testimonies of the life changing miracles God has done for people. To know he showed up in their lives at the perfect time, and they began to follow and serve him. It's so uplifting and encouraging to not only know what God can do, but to hear of it from others.

Growing up, as a family we'd occasional attend a local church. I can't say I was raised in church and in the ways of the Lord, however I was taught to believe in God and I did. I always knew he was real, even if I hadn't yet experienced him or his presence. I am the youngest of 3 siblings. As a young girl I was very attached to my mom, I looked up to her, and of course I was a daddy's girl aka the favorite, lol. As a family, we'd take annual trips to the beach and Disneyland. We looked forward to spending holidays together. Unfortunately, nearing the end of my 7th grade year my parents filed for a divorce. It was a huge shock to us as children. Not fully understanding, I did my best to be optimistic. With the childlike mind that I had, I thought, "Hey, we'll have two houses now instead of one, that's pretty cool." It never dawned on me the changes and obstacles I'd encounter along the way.

My parent's divorce honestly didn't hit me until my sophomore year of high school. I found myself thinking, "Wow, it really happened.” My relationship with my mom had shifted, she remarried and well, it just wasn't the same. I was hurt. Not knowing how to deal with the hurt, lead to frustration, which became anger and overall resentment towards her. I lost respect for her to the point where I didn't even call her mom anymore, I called her by her name. I'm not proud to say that, but it's the truth. I was in a place where I didn't know how to deal with all my emotions and internal battles. So my reflex was to try to hurt her or somehow show her I was hurt without saying it.

My Junior year of High School, my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It hit me like a ton of bricks, it was so sudden. I couldn’t help but to feel that it was my fault. Why was I so selfish? Why didn't I try harder? My mom was quickly scheduled for brain surgery, as well as radiation and chemotherapy treatment, although it wasn’t cancerous. Thankfully she overcame, the tumor was gone and we moved on with life. I wish I could say I fixed everything after that, but I didn't. After high school I began to drink, party and get involved in things I never thought I would. About a month before my 19th birthday, August of 2009, my mom was diagnosed with another brain tumor. It had returned, bigger and cancerous. I didn't even think that was possible. Cancer? What do you mean? How serious is cancer? How big is this tumor? My mom was scheduled for her second brain surgery, I was in disbelief.

Due to the size and placement of the tumor, only a small portion could be removed. At this point they gave her about 6 months to live. It was then that I began attending church regularly with a childhood friend. Did I turn away from my lifestyle? No, but I remained in prayer for my mom's situation. I remember the prayer I'd pray often, "Lord if you take her, prepare me to live on and comfort me. If you are going to heal her, prepare me to help her through recovery. Lord it's in your hands, just give me the peace." Although I wasn't an expert at prayer, I knew God would answer.

The next few months consisted of frequent visits to her house, long talks, and mending what had been broken between us for years. We shared moments I'll never forget. One day in particular I came across this song by Lee Ann Womack "I Hope You Dance". I remember going over to my mom's house and saying, "Mom, I’d like to show you this song", as I put my phone to her ear. I remember she raised the volume and we listened together, while holding hands. That was such a precious moment, that had us both in tears. On December 22, 2009 my mom had a severe seizure and was rushed to the hospital. From that day the doctors said she could pass away at any moment. They advised us to contact family members and friends to come see her immediately. My pastors at the time, came to pray for her. I witnessed my mom give her life to Jesus, in her last days. It was so beautiful to witness. I saw the tears slowly fall and felt the presence of God all over her. I'm grateful I was in that room that evening.

We spent our last Christmas together as a family at her bedside. That was honestly the best Christmas ever. I know it sounds crazy, considering the circumstance, but spending Christmas together, praying as a family, took me back to my childhood for a moment. It was truly a gift. I appreciated and viewed Christmas in a whole new light from that day forward.

On Sunday, December 27th, 2009 I was at our evening church service, when I received a numerous amount of missed phone calls from my dad and siblings. My heart dropped, I knew what it was. I called my dad back and he calmly said "You need to go to your mom's." My response was, "Why?" And he said "Just go." My heart was racing, I couldn't even drive. My friend drove me to my mom's house. As we pulled up to her house, my brother rushed out to meet me at the car with tears rolling down his face as he said, "she's gone, mom passed away." I took steps back in shock and said "what do you mean?" I literally froze up, my whole world just stopped in that moment. My mom was really gone. I slowly walked into her house where I was greeted by my sister's good friend. He hugged me and said "I'm sorry." My reply was "Don't be, you say sorry when she's in pain, you say congratulations when she made it to heaven." He paused and looked at me stunned as he said "Congratulations.”

Immediately I felt a sense of peace and relief. My mom was no longer in pain or suffering. God had called her home. God truly had answered my prayer, he prepared me, just as I asked. Was it the way I wanted? No. Of course to have her here today, would be my true desire, however I know she's in glory. God has given me dreams of her in glory and I've woken from those dreams with such peace and joy.

I hadn't yet given my life to the Lord. It wasn't until about a year and a half later that I began to feel God tugging at my heart. I knew it was time. The lifestyle I was living just wasn't satisfying me anymore. I wanted something more and I knew exactly what I needed. At the end of April 2011, I began to attend church and this time, it was for myself. I needed God, I needed healing, I needed deliverance and a new beginning. May 22nd, marked the beginning of the rest of my life. I surrendered my life to God completely, and got baptized that day. I came out of that water overwhelmed by the presence of God and in tears. It was truly a life changing experience. From one day to the next, I dropped everything. The cussing, partying, drinking, listening to wordly music, and separated myself from the world. I accepted Jesus into my heart and became a new creation in him. The old had passed away!

I share this testimony to encourage you. Although our prayers may not be answered in the way we choose, and we may never know why things play out the way they do, God is still good. God gives us peace that surpasses all understanding. We may never understand certain things but God's peace will cover us along the way. I'm grateful that God gave me those last precious moments with my mother, I will forever treasure them. I'm blessed to have been able to mend our relationship before she passed away. I chose to take all the good she taught me, instilled in me and gave me. Her love for others, personality and humor brings me joy, when reminiscing. She was strong, a true warrior through her struggle. She is an inspiration to me today as I pursue and follow my passions. She believed in me as a young girl and I know she's smiling, in heaven knowing I surrendered my life to Jesus and living a godly life.

In my sin, God covered me, in my brokenness God comforted me. In my weakness God strengthened me. God brought me to my knees, willingly. I will never turn back. Christ saved me, when I couldn't even save myself. -Erika Gomez