in the life of Carol Adams

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God@Work in the life of Carol Adams

I will always remember that Saturday night.

As a child, I attended church because my grandmother insisted upon it. She loved the Lord with all her heart and mind. She would take me with her. As I got older, I didn’t want to go any longer. I was very strong willed and I think the adults gave up. At some period in my high school years, I was again pushed to going to church. I must have gotten in some kind of trouble and my parents probably tried that as a last ditch effort. I was walking in the opposite direction of God and had no heart connection to Him at all. But God didn’t give up. He was very faithful to my Grandmother who spent many hours a day praying for us all.

To say I was searching for something is an understatement. At 19, I was married; by 22, I had two miscarriages; and at 23 was divorced. From that time through my 30’s I was determined to be in charge of my own destiny. I worked hard so I wouldn’t need to depend on anyone else. I partied when I wasn’t working and did things that were destructive to my well being ― drinking, smoking, and many broken relationships to name a few.

What I didn’t realize was how hardened I was becoming. My communication with others could be described as “caustic sarcasm.” If things didn’t go the way I thought they should, I would do all I could to change it. I was very quick with my degrading comments that I thought were just funny. How we fool ourselves! I had no idea how much harm I was causing others or how hurtful I could be. I heard over and over that I was very intimidating. I would say I was direct and people just couldn’t handle that. During these years I would go to church from time to time, but I just never got it. And those visits wouldn’t last long.

But God was always there. I just didn’t know it. I knew something had to change because I was very unhappy, tired of being alone, and I didn’t want to go to bars anymore. One of my friends told me I was angry all the time. Although I laughed a lot and wasn’t always outwardly angry, her words struck a chord.

I decided to go to counseling to sort it all out. The counseling started to help me see some of the reasons I was having relationship issues. I became aware that my behavior was rooted in trying to control my circumstances.

Around the same time, my coworker Charlene started talking to me about Jesus and her church. She invited me to a Christmas concert at Shawnee Baptist, and I attended. Months later, I mentioned to Charlene that I was going to try out FAC’s Saturday night service. My initial motive for going to church was to find a nice man, and I hit the Jackpot ― I fell in love with Jesus!

I will always remember that Saturday night. I was the first car to arrive in the FAC lot that Saturday evening. I felt nervous. Then a second car pulled in. It was my friend Charlene and her husband. They came to keep me company. Amazing how God works. He truly loves us through others, but, of course, I didn’t know that then.

I instantly felt that the pastor was speaking to me. I came every week alone. I didn’t get to know many people because it seemed everyone knew one another and they would stand in groups and catch up. But I kept coming back. God was in full motion now. Marty talked about miniChurch ― over and over and over. I ultimately joined a miniChurch because he was so passionate about it. I attended a large informational meeting and before I knew it, I was in a group. That’s where I learned about
God ― how He loves us. I learned about caring for others and allowing others to care for me, and yet there was an underlying desire to be in control. If I didn’t feel as if I were, the sarcasm was released, and on many occasions I caused hurt feelings.

But God just kept working through me by teaching me new ideas. I was learning I needed to renew my mind. How does that happen? First God prompted me to serve in the church. Over the years, I have helped with youth groups, table leading in women’s groups, teaching a couple of classes, the Feeding 5000 ministry, Deepening Groups, and greeting before services. I don’t mention these to say, “Look what I’ve done”; instead, to tell you these are the places where God taught me how to love others. These groups didn’t need me. I needed them.

All of the people I have met while serving taught me not to judge but love; not to covet but realize how rich and full my life is; not to be upset with the person driving so slowly in front of me making me late for work, realizing everyone possesses different driving skills; and, oh yeah, I should leave my house earlier. I learned that I needed to be responsible for my own actions and stop blaming others for my short comings. The people in my first miniChurch taught me the most about love. They showered it on me. Today I know I could call on any one of them, and they would extend a hand.

Recently I have become part of a miniChurch that is full of people who are on fire for the Lord. Their passion for sharing the Gospel matches my own. My excitement has been rekindled. Jesus came to show us how to live right. The Bible is full of how to live right instructions. Reading and studying the Bible is key. Through learning about God, He has transformed my mind and the condition of my heart. We can try to be good, but only a changed heart will allow us to do good. The goodness will come from our hearts. And I learned this from the people God put in my life.

Today I am free! That’s how I feel every day. I do not harbor resentment towards others; I don’t feel revengeful; I don’t feel burdened with wanting everything my way. It’s hard to describe; it’s just plain old “freedom.” My personality hasn’t really changed, just a lot of the way I use it. I’m still direct ― but I don’t hear the words, “You are so intimidating” like I used to.

Today, Jesus is my master. He is my friend, my provider, and protector. He helps me find my keys in the morning when I’m late. He reminds me to back away from the car going so slowly in front of me. The biggest challenge is helping me hold my tongue when the sarcasm builds up. Sometimes it just comes flying out, but I have seen a change in the tone. I am noticing it doesn’t sound as mean so I’m making some progress. The Holy Spirit uses my Christian friends to help me in this area. When I cross the line with an unacceptable outburst, they simply say with a loving, but convicting tone, “CAROL.” That’s all they need to do, and I stop immediately. I laugh at myself. I’m still learning the lesson.

I still have struggles, and sometimes people are just plain annoying. When I feel anger, I just call out to Jesus, and the anger dissipates. I see people from a different view. I am very aware that if they don’t know Jesus, they cannot stop how they behave. So, usually I just tell them what I do when I get upset, and the situation becomes a platform to share the Gospel.

Jesus said, “Come follow me and make disciples.” Teaching this to others opened my heart to all people. Everyone needs to know who Jesus is, and telling all I meet about Jesus is my purpose. I wait for the Lord, and I see opportunities all day long. Now at work, instead of people running the other direction, they come to my office to tell me their story. I just point them to God. I could never have gotten to this place without His people.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you out there for what you taught me by the way you live your lives. Yes, I mean you.