A Glimpse of Hope
By Cindy Moore Wooten
As I sit here reflecting back over my life, I can’t help but recognize how God’s hand was always present, even at times I may not have realized it then. Though I can think of many instances, both past and present, I’m drawn to share one particular season where God first revealed Himself to me. It was at the age of 16, while going through what was by far the hardest, most troubling time of my life.
To give a little background so that you get the most out of this, let me elaborate. Growing up I basically gave most everyone the impression that I was fully confident in myself and who I was. Although, in reality, I was anything but. No way was I about to let you see anything different, though. I sure wasn’t going to let you think that I was in any way intimidated by you or anything this world could throw at me. I honestly didn’t think there was anything I couldn’t do, fix, or handle.
Throughout the first 14 years of my life, I had gotten pretty good at building up walls that allowed me to operate in this “tough girl” identity without giving it a second thought. Don’t get me wrong, I did have friends, despite myself. Lord knows, I’m still thankful for each one of them. See, the truth is, I love deeply, so that means I hurt deeply, which naturally means I just had to “protect” myself from getting hurt. Easy, right? Those walls sure did come in handy for that!
Over the years, I grew pretty hard. You would think that meant I was fully equipped to handle the battle I was about to enter for the next year and a half, but you’d be wrong! As teenagers we all had our own struggles. I always tried to be the friend that put my friends’ struggles before my own. After all, most of them seemed to have more reasons to be struggling than I did.
Truth is, this “tough girl” did have a heart for helping others. Deep down, I genuinely cared about people. It was just too risky to let anyone see that, so I sure wasn’t about to advertise it to the world. You had to really get to know me before I’d let you see that part of me. The main problem with being like that is that others don’t realize you sometimes need someone too. Of course, I knew my family was always there for me, but so much of what I was dealing with was family issues that were going on. How was I supposed to tell them the way I truly felt deep down inside when they were dealing with all that too? So, I just kept bottling up my feelings. I convinced myself that I was just fine. After all, I can handle anything, remember?
Turns out, going from being one of four kids at home, to being the only child there, wasn’t as much fun as one would think. It was a really big adjustment, since they all moved out pretty much at the same time. I was also adjusting to the new school I couldn’t wait to get to, because I was hoping it would be the start to the basketball “career” I sincerely desired. However, shortly after school started, just before our basketball season was about to take off, I ended up getting put out of basketball altogether, due to a foot injury. That was a huge “blow!” Already feeling pretty beat down and very unsure of myself, I went from feeling like a somebody to a nobody because most of my identity was wrapped up in basketball – the game I lived for and truly thought made me who I was. Some of the people I thought genuinely cared for me, now barely even noticed my existence.
Thinking that nothing could possibly get any worse, I knew I could no longer put off doing what would cause yet another heartbreak. The only difference was this time the heartbreak was necessary, and by choice. I had to end a year long relationship that I never should have entered in the first place. It was one of those breakups you thank God for later, but right then it was painful. After bottling up so much for so long, naturally the stress took a toll on my body, and it seemed I stayed sick all the time. Literally one thing after the other, including a few surgeries. I went from being an honor student, to a student now struggling just to pass because it was almost impossible to keep up after missing so much school due to all the sickness, and having no idea how to actually study.
Just when I thought things were about to start looking up, since “up” seemed to be the only way left to go at this point, I then lost a grandparent, and a few others I very much loved and cared for. Yet, none of those losses prepared me for the hardest loss of all – an extremely important person in my life that was by far more like a sister than a friend. I seriously thought that loss was going to take me under! It seemed everything and everyone I loved was either leaving me or being taken from me. To top it all off, I looked around, realizing I had no idea who I was anymore. I really never did, actually. I was only left wondering if life really was worth all this pain. It was all just proving to be too much for even me to handle. Despite everything, I did make it through, but BARELY!
By the age of 16, I had finally figured out a way to fix it all. The thought just came to me in the middle of the day, completely out of nowhere. I now know, it definitely came from somewhere, and it wasn’t from anywhere good. At that moment though, it really didn’t sound so bad. I mean, it was a way that I could “fix” everything myself. I was worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally. I just so desperately wanted peace. Peace in my heart, my mind, and in my life. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was worn out spiritually too. Spirits are real, and whether you choose to believe it or not, there is a spirit realm out there! After everything I had fought my way through, here I was about to enter the biggest battle yet.
When the thought of how I could “fix” it all came to me, without hardly any hesitation at all, I headed to get the pistol. When I tell you that once my hand reached for that gun the real battle was just beginning, you better believe it was. I just thought I had been fighting to keep my head above water before. The thoughts, the voices, the noise inside my head – they were all so loud! “Don’t be scared, just do it.” “Think of the peace you’ll have.” “It will be for the better.” “They’ll move on with life.” “They’ll be ok.” “If you really are as tough as you say, you’ll just do it.” “What are you waiting for?” “Do it!” “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.” The list could go on! However, I will never forget the last thought that the enemy tried to use as a final straw. “Your parents didn’t even plan for you. They didn’t want you, so what difference will it make?”
Wow! It was no secret that my parents didn’t plan for me. I already knew that. It had never really bothered me before, though. For a brief moment, this time, the thought actually started getting to me. Let’s just say that I got close enough to death that day, and I am forever thankful for the voice of God that rose up in my Spirit at that exact moment. That voice spoke softer, yet louder, as it began to drown out all those other voices in my head. God then started reminding me of what my momma had always said. “You may have been a surprise to us, but you weren’t a surprise to God.” Hmmm, so I WAS planned! Even if not by them, I was by God. That meant even more to me, because that proved one thing. I MUST have a purpose! See, as a Christian I knew deep down that God created everything and everyone with a purpose. Which would only later send me on a journey to find mine.
I wish I could tell you that I witnessed, with my own eyes, some sort of great angelic move happening in that room that day – like a bright light appearing or something – but I can’t. What I can tell you is, as I sat there on my momma’s side of the bed, just seconds away from pulling the trigger, there most definitely were angels moving as they fought on my behalf. I don’t think it was mere coincidence that out of all the rooms and places I could have gone, I ended up there, in my parents room, sitting almost exactly in what I later learned was the same spot my momma knelt everyday to pray for her family. So, though I may not have seen anything with my natural eyes, there was, in fact, an angelic move that took place. During which I even had a full on vision of my family finding me in that tragic scene.
It was HORRIBLE! My mom was sobbing and screaming as she held my lifeless body. The rest of my family surrounded me while their heads hung, and tears poured down their faces. For a brief moment, I was overwhelmed with the grief and hurt they would feel. Then, with their love. It was like all of a sudden I “snapped out of it.” Almost like waking from an extremely vivid dream, except this time it was more of a nightmare. One of those it takes a few minutes to determine if it really happened or not. Suddenly I realized what I almost just did. I just NEARLY attempted suicide! I’d never been more scared in my life than at that exact moment. If one thing had ever become more clear to me, in my life, it was that I most definitely didn’t want to die! I still can’t praise God enough for coming on the scene that day. After everything that had just taken place in my life, I finally caught a glimpse of HOPE. That hope led me on a journey that I’m still walking out today.
From that day forward, I began seeking after God and that purpose in which I was created for. In Jeremiah 29:13 God says that when we seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him. I’ve found God’s word to be true, as every time I have sought deeper after Him, I’ve most definitely found Him – and you can too.