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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"My Story" Tuesday: Sandy Bryant

I grew up the youngest daughter of a Pentecostal preacher. My sister was thirteen when I was born and my brother was ten. Our Mama stayed at home with me until I was thirteen, when she returned to work. This meant that I had a LOT of attention, much of it unwanted as I grew older, since that also meant that Mom was aware of pretty much every sneaky little thing I did.

I knew from an early age that God had a special calling upon my life. However, I felt stifled, judged, like I was never good enough and like I would never be able to meet the high expectations placed upon me. As I approached my later teen years, I became rebellious and angry, bitter about many of the things I saw done "in the name of God," many of which I was pretty sure God had no part in.

When I was 18 years old, I met a man who I chose to marry. I thought I loved him, but looking back I believe most of what drove me to marry him was a strong desire to leave home and my strict environment. Marry him I did against all my family's objections, and through various forms of abuse I stayed and had four children with this man.

I was diagnosed at age eighteen, just two weeks shy of my wedding, with Type 1 Diabetes. Then two months before my thirtieth birthday, a friend of mine died in a car wreck. My friend's death sounded a very real wakeup call for me. I vividly remember standing beside her casket bawling like a baby and realizing that I cried mostly for myself. I decided that day to leave my abusive marriage. Four months later I summoned every ounce of courage I could muster and left with all four of the children.

This period in my life was a complete eye-opener. I had never been on my own before, yet here I stood, a single mom with four children ages nine and under. Still I chose to continue running from God for the next few years.

Fast forward to April 10, 2010. My then fifteen-year-old daughter said she no longer believed in God. For a preacher's daughter, that was a horrifying thing to hear her child say. I loaded the kids up in my old van for the next church service, a Wednesday night. We went to a church we'd been invited to many times, but had never gone.

My daughter, in particular, was furious that I made her go to church. After all, I had not taken my kids like I should have and had not raised them with a deep faith instilled in them. That first night at the church, the power of God came down. Whether or not it was for my children, it was indeed for me. Within moments of walking into that building, God had transformed me, made me a new creature. All of that old bitterness and anger, it all just melted off me. I literally felt the weight lifted off my body. I had three people come and pray with me that night, and I can tell you that all three of them were sent to me by God Himself.

Twenty months later, after I rededicated my life and all that I am and my children’s lives to God, I have the most amazing relationship I have ever had with my Heavenly Father! He has seen fit to bless me with a Godly husband, a wonderful church family, and one of the most loving pastors I have ever met in my life. God is still working on my children, but all of them do believe in God. I have seen each of them praying.

I know our Father is a loving God, and if it were not for His grace and mercy I would not be here today. I am so thankful for that unconditional love, for my slate being wiped clean, and for a chance to have a fresh start. To God be the Glory!
~Sandy Bryant~
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