Good Friends and The Good News
by Stephanie Reynolds - Founder of the Christian Writers Collective, LLC (757 words)
Moving from the “hood” to the suburbs of Milwaukee in 1969, when I was 10, changed my life. I quickly learned that nice and not-so-nice people came in all colors, especially at school. There, the White kids laughed at my ebonic accent. When busing brought more than four other Black kids to the suburbs, they called me an “Uncle Tom” for sounding White!
Even so, I managed to make several good friends at school, two of them loved me enough to tell me about Jesus. The first, when I was 14 and the second in Tucson, when I was 21, pursuing a BS in Architecture from the University of Arizona. Each time, I thought my friend was crazy, but I was perfectly “normal.”
Right after my crazy friend returned to Milwaukee, a man I'd dated for just two months before leaving for college, moved to nearby Phoenix. Homesickness contributed to mixed-emotions about this. I was looking forward to going to college “unattached” for 1,200 reasons. That’s how much the round-trip flight to my first boyfriend’s military base had cost me. He dumped me shortly after my arrival.
It took me over thirty years to realize why I wisely chose to not reconcile with my first boyfriend after he apologized, but I stupidly chose to accept everything my future ex-husband told me, even when I knew he was lying. It was pride.
Pride made me an easy target for gaslighting, a physiological manipulation tactic. From the moment he arrived in Phoenix, until I filed for divorce in Milwaukee, almost five years later, pride lead me to believe and do things I shouldn’t have when it came to this man. It was my pride, not my ex, that had cost me everything, starting with my college savings and my self-respect. Thankfully, I wound up pregnant four months after we rebelliously eloped. The despair created by being married to an unfaithful man drove me to consider suicide, but, my innocent, unborn child gave me a reason to live.
Remember my friend from Milwaukee that came to see me in Tucson? When she told me again about Jesus being able to give me a new life, she didn’t sound crazy anymore! A new life was exactly what I needed and wanted.
On Sunday, April 10, 1983, while I was at church with my future ex-husband, which was a miracle in itself considering I didn't 'do church' and he hadn't attended for years, I received my new life. God knew exactly what it would take for me to lay aside my pride and start living the life He had planned for me rather than the lie I was living to save face. A few weeks later, He used my Christian friend and her husband to transport me and my eleven month old son back where we needed to be at my parents’ house.
My son is now 37 years old. He became my brother in Christ when he was four and one half years old. The highest compliment I could pay my son is to say that even if he wasn’t my son, I’d admire the character of the godly man he has become. Founding the Christian Writers Collective (CWC) is the first fruit of my desire to reach the high bar he has set, but in my role as a godly parent. I also want to be obedient to Proverbs 13:22, which says we're to “leave an inheritance for our children's children.” (See LateBoomers.net)
My best friend, Mrs. Naomi Walker, was the only person I told that Jesus was prompting me to return to college at age 57 because of Proverbs 13:22. I had planned to complete a BS in Business & Communications. She was also the only one that knew how He was rewarding my obedience with step-by-step instructions for founding the CWC. Every essay and term papers I wrote paved a clearer path to success! For the next four years, she enthusiastically and professionally proofread everything I wrote from college papers to resumes. Words, alone, can't express what an encouragement she was to me.
When Mrs.Walker died on my 61st birthday, October 8, 2019, I knew it was God's providence, not coincidence. She had demonstrated her belief in me and the CWC with her friendship, her enthusiasm, and her tireless proofreading. I pray the Lord would allow me to honor her by dedicating our first book to her, Jesus Can...Give You A New Life!, on 10-8-2020, the first anniversary of her Homegoing and my 62nd birthday. Amen.
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UPDATE: December 24, 2020 - Our new goal of publishing our first book in January 2021 is about to come true, at last! This testimony, mine, is one of the last of 31 testimonies that I and my new Editor, Nyla Kay Wilkerson (also a CWC writer,) have worked tirelessly to complete since our original editing deadline came and went December 15, 2020. Because our Publisher, Dana Williamson, is even busier than we are, she graciously and mercifully extended our deadline to today, Christmas Eve, because her first opportunity to complete the formatting needed to submit our book to the printer will be tomorrow, Christmas Day.
I'm so grateful to these two women for their faith-filled contribution to helping me to make my dream come truth after five years of “failing forward toward success.” There are so many more people that I would like to thank and will probably take the time to do so in the next book of our series, Jesus Can...Heal Your Hurts (tentatively scheduled for release on Valentine's Day in 2021.) But for now, I just want to thank the two greatest gifts God has ever given me, second only to my salvation in Jesus Christ; my Dad, Willie C. Reynolds and my son, Steven W. Reynolds. To say that I couldn't have done this without the both of you is a huge understatement. I thank you both for putting up with this Dreamer for 62 years and 37 years, respectively. May the Lord richly reward your love, patience, tolerance, and support, from this day forward. Amen.