Joan communicates the truth that as Christians we are not exempt from pain and tragedy but that God uses this pain to get our attention. Joan knows about pain … a marriage breakdown … a suicide attempt … a daughter shot … a daughter injured by a bomb and a son in jail for manslaughter.
A downhill slide
I grew up in a Christian home on a farm and moved to the big city a few years after I was married. I grew up knowing God and attending Church. Life was pretty uneventful while growing up but I discovered that no one is exempt from heartache and pain.
In the late seventies, I was excited as I was married and had three wonderful children. I was working for a prestigious company. My oldest daughter had just landed a few modelling jobs. Life was good.
But like a car skidding on the ice, my life quickly began sliding downhill. My teenage daughter had begun making some poor choices and I was learning that a mother’s love isn’t always enough to reel a child back in. She was hanging with the wrong crowd and one night she was shot and taken to the ER. A year later she was assaulted, held at gunpoint and eventually released. At that point we made a family decision to uproot and move to a nearby town where I thought we could start over.
An explosion, attempted suicide, divorce and a son in prison for manslaughter
Of course I prayed but at times I had more questions than answers. I began missing more and more church services and my prayers became fewer and fewer.
Shortly after the move, my nine year old daughter was hospitalised after a homemade bomb exploded when she was taking a break from one of her races. (She was one of the youngest ‘quarter midget’ racers in the city.) Normally the weekends at the track were relaxing and enjoyable. This took us all by surprise and we were in shock as we watched paramedics whisk her off in an ambulance and transport her to the nearest hospital. Doctors worked furiously to pry the shrapnel from her body.
I remember thinking; “This can’t be happening to us, we are an average American family … we live right … we didn’t ask for this …” On the way to the hospital, I began praying, asking God for help for my daughter. She was released from the hospital within a week but it would take years of plastic surgery before her scars would become minimal.
Just when I didn’t think I could take any more, my marriage crumbled and fell apart. Devastated, I attempted suicide. My picture perfect life was disintegrating. My only son (Darin) was on drugs. He was drinking and, to make a long story short, he was eventually sentenced to prison for manslaughter.
Crying out to God
When I had lost it all and had nowhere to turn, I cried out to the heavens. At times I unfairly blamed God. But in spite of this, during all my trials God was there waiting for me to call upon Him. Miraculously with God’s help I was able to discover a life worth living.
Jesus is compassionate … learning compassion
I think my experiences have caused me to have more compassion for others. God did not cause my pain and I love the following Bible verse.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30).
Jesus understands my disappointments, my hurts and my pains. He had compassion for me. He did not cause my pain but He was there to walk me through it. I am stronger because of my trials. Jesus suffered more than you or I will ever be able to fathom, so that we might be forgiven and have eternal fellowship with God.
God restoring the years that the locusts have eaten
Our walk with Christ is a personal one but when God transforms us and changes us from the inside out this gives us a reason to shout from the rooftops. I want the world to know that God is faithful and that when pain comes, instead of blaming God; we are to reach out to God. God has restored the years that the locust and cancer worm has taken away.
What is going on with my family now?
My son (Darin) and his wife are now pastoring a church. My oldest daughter (Teila) and her husband have raised six children and have fostered over 21 children. Teila is a free lance writer. Read articles written by Teila
Read extracts from Torn Apart / Restored (Darin’s book – co-authored by my daughter, Teila)
My youngest daughter has been such a blessing and she is busy raising a family. As for me, I remarried. Eleven years into the marriage my husband died from a heart attack but he left me with many wonderful memories. I now share my story at churches, conferences and I’ve even gone overseas to speak. I am currently working on a Christian Devotional titled “Bowing Before God”. My goal is to encourage others in their walk with Jesus. My relationship with Christ is stronger than ever.
God is good!
I can attest that in times of trouble there is no greater friend than Christ. God uses life experiences to turn our attention towards him.
I grew up with the misconception that once we become believers and surrender our will to the Lord that we are exempt from suffering and hardship. The truth is as Christians we are not exempt from pain and tragedy.
There is a future
I experienced first-hand the deceptive tactics of Satan and will tell you that “yes, Satan is out to kill, steal and destroy but our God is mightier”.
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Come to know your Creator (animation)
The Reason (music video)