Janet Laballiere's TestimonyI was a smart kid. I excelled in school without even trying. My mother was a teacher, who made every attempt to mold me into a model child. It didn't work. I was a stubborn one. I wanted my own way. My mother and I stood toe to toe on a lot of issues; and the older I got, the more her toes felt the strain of my weight. She was an older woman. She did not have the strength to deal with me. I was spoiled, throwing tantrums and brooding for days on end.
My father lived in the same city on the other side of town. He liked women and had many children from his affairs. These children made themselves known to me and my friends, which caused me endless fury. I wanted to get back at my father. When that seemed impossible, I tried to retaliate against everyone else.
By the time I reached high school, my erratic behavior had led to my being diagnosed as a "mental problem." I spent 90 days out of school each year, just sitting in front of the TV. No one dared comment, lest they be bombarded with accusations of their fault in the matter. I slept very little, haunted by voices telling me to take knives from the drawers and "do my duty." I found that liquor muffled the voices and took full advantage of that. I refused to march at graduation, thinking it would gain me recognition as a rebel. It did.
I went off to college. Was my family happy about that! Things seemed to be better there. But as the pressure started to build, I began spending my days in bed. I found some relief in making purchases, lining up and examining each item. My buying needs were greater than my budget, so I stole money from my mother and my friends. When I could no longer steal, I took out credit cards and ran them up to a debt of $13,000. I had to leave college to pay these bills off.
By the time I had worked for two years, I was ready for the loony bin. My job paid $300 less than my total monthly bills. I started talking to myself, and lost all track of time. My fantasies regularly crossed the boundaries of reality. My mother and I fought like cats and dogs. I began to threaten her, and she was ready to throw me out. So I laid low, planning to get away one way or another. The window of our 25th floor apartment had a special appeal. I liked to imagine I could fly.
I woke up one day knowing God was not pleased. I had kind of felt that God would let me into heaven on merit, but this belief came to a screeching halt! I went into such a panic that I even slithered back into church. The feeling stayed with me. I tried to be nice but I couldn't pull it off. I tried to stop stealing but I was out of control. I felt like a guy drowning in the ocean, like a lost child a million miles from home, like a convict standing in front of a judge. When was this bad dream going to end?
On one of my "I'm going to clean up my act" days I wandered into Pacific Garden Mission. I was really down and I hoped that God would be pleased if I volunteered to help at the Mission. As I walked in, I noticed that the sky was gray. The sky was always gray; this was OK since my eyes could not take the sunlight. A robust, joyful man approached me. I disliked him on sight. He was too happy. Yet there was something about this man, so I talked to him. He asked me if I knew Jesus.
"Sure." I said.
He inquired as to how long I'd known him.
I quipped, "All of my life."
He looked at me and asked, "If you died tonight, are you sure you would have a place in heaven?"
I fidgeted somewhat and answered. "I guess... I don't really."
"You can know, " he quietly stated.
I looked at this man. Squinting, I asked, "How?"
He asked if I knew I was a sinner. Oh, yes, by this time I sure did. He asked if I knew Jesus was God and that he died for sin. Yes, I believed .
He said, "Will you make a trade? Will you trust Jesus to save you and give up trying to save yourself?"
I was delighted. "Do you mean I can give up? I don't have to get it for myself?" I had tried but I just couldn't.
"Yes, you can trust Jesus today," he said.
So I did. I shook the man's hand. I was so relieved. I had found a friend. Although to this day words can not express what a good friend Jesus has been to me.
I do know this: for the first time in my life the sky was blue. Really blue. I walked out of that place to see the blue sky after all. People had kept saying it was; now I could see they were right. I felt so safe. I was finally free.
And what did I do then? I worked at the Mission for two years as a counselor.
I wrote papers, gave speeches, led studies, walked the streets sharing with people about the Savior.
More than that, I've been changed. The voices have been silenced. My mind is full of thoughts desiring to please Him. I don't need the bottle anymore. I have friends that pray for me and share my fears. My family has reconciled with me. My father and younger brother are now in the faith. Most of all, God is in control of me. Let me give an example. For the first six weeks of school, the shower in my dorm room behaved strangely. The first week it was cold. The second week, it was hot, the third, hotter. I either had to turn the shower off to wash up, which I detest; or sit in the bath, sponging myself off while pouring lukewarm water over my head. But I did not throw a tantrum.
My heart said, "This is for a reason. To the glory of God, I will persevere."
What a change the Lord has made in me! As I sit before the Lord, He speaks His love for me through the Word. I can remember how dark it was, but it is not dark anymore. I am now studying at Moody Bible Institute, being trained in those things important for the work Jesus wishes to do through me. My biggest dream is that He should live through me. Pretty neat, huh?
You can know Him, too. You can have a friend in Jesus!