On October 28th, “Loved By God” shared her testimony here at the blog. She has been chronicling the journey she began over 180 days ago. Today, she gives us a glimpse into a pivotal experience on “Day 40.”
On the 40th day of my restoration, I read the chapter in the Thin Within book that asked me to recall a significant event. Clearly, the most significant event of my life was the day my family emigrated from Cuba.
I was 11 years old. My sister was born with a heart defect that could literally end her life in a heartbeat. Cuba did not have the technology to fix it and we were offered Russia immediately, or wait for a visa to the U.S. My parents chose the U.S.
Now Cuba is a communist country, enjoying a totally dysfunctional relationship with the U.S. When we said, “We want to go there” we became enemies of the State. We lost our citizenship rights, including the right to work and go to school. My dad was a carpenter and he would go into the country and get paid in food for building or fixing things. My mom could no longer work as a nurse, but she was very resourceful and would sew or do odd jobs for cash, whenever she could.
Food was scarce, but it wasn’t just the food. Between caring for my sister and navigating hardships, love and attention were in pretty short supply, too. Except for my brother. Of us four kids, he was the oldest and I was the youngest. And He loved me–lavishly and unconditionally.
And then we got “The Telegram.” We had waited five years for that moment. We literally kept a suitcase packed at all times because when The Telegram arrived we had to be ready to go. We could take what we were wearing and a change of clothes. Everything else we owned would become property of the State.
In those five years of waiting we all got older, including my brother. In fact, he had turned 17—past military age for young, Cuban boys. He would not be allowed to leave the country with us.
I wept bitterly as I looked through the back window of the taxi that would take us to the train that would take us to the plane that would separate me from my brother. And there he stood, waving goodbye. I did not know this consciously until God revealed it to me on day 40 of my journey. But that day so long ago, when I finally stopped crying, I closed my heart to love. At the same time, I embraced an incredible burden of guilt for abandoning him. From then on, anything I had was something he didn’t have. And my soul was tied to him.
I have always been ready to give love and support to others, but have held back that part of myself that makes me vulnerable. As I came to know the Lord, I knew Him in my head, but could not feel Him in my heart. I believed that God is love, but I struggled with the concept in the coldness of my heart. I really believed that God blessed my family because my husband and my daughter were worthy of His love… but not me. I caught glimpses of His care, but it always seemed to slip right through my fingers. As a “mature” Christian, I counseled others and they embraced these truths and found victory, which only seemed to reinforce my conviction that there was something really wrong with me.
God shone His light on all this on Day 40 of my journey. (I have to tell you, I was nothing but tears and snot that day.) He applied His love to my wounds, and released me from my self-imposed bondage. Then he showed me that He does love me, and for the first time ever, I believed Him. Not only did I believe Him, but I opened my heart and gave him permission to love me. So today I glory in the realization that I, ME, am loved by God. Really! This is HUGE!
My brother joined us in the U.S. 10 years later, at age 27, and went to be with the Lord about ten years ago. He was a humble, loving man with a servant heart. He touched many lives. By American standards he could be considered a failure, but in the eyes of the Spirit he was a rich man.
God showed me that all along it had been His responsibility to take care of my brother through the trauma and pain he endured being separated from the family. My Heavenly Daddy released me from that burden and comforted me with Psalm 73:23-24. He told me through His Word that He had always been right there beside my brother… He had held him by his right hand… He had guided him with His counsel… then He took him with honor into glory.
He took care of my brother in ways that I never could, and He reached out and drew me to Himself. I am no longer a shell… His love beats in my heart. How cool is that?!!