Born Again! (But Not How You May Be Thinking)


Three years ago today, God grasped me by the nape of my neck, yanked me from an environment I had no business being in, and tossed me into almost two years of uncertainty and fear. He had to go to these extremes to get my attention, but then He answered my simple, but repetitious and pleading prayer, “God, please deliver me.” I thought I was finished writing about and re-hashing this episode of my life, but it’s not quite ready to let me go.

One of Jesus’ sayings, one that I never quite understood, was, “You must be born again.” Today, looking back at the past three years, I totally understand it, at least as it applies to me. I don’t think Jesus had me and my circumstances in mind when he was teaching his disciples about the Kingdom of God, but the message resonates with me and addresses me on a very personal level.

When I was escorted in handcuffs to the Walton County Jail and invited to spend a long night in a cold holding cell, being born again was the last thing I was thinking about. I didn’t know what was going on, or how this was going to impact my life. As events unfolded over the next several months, my fears multiplied with each new nightmare and surprise thrown my way. I was drowning, trying to tread water, but all the while feeling like I was gasping for air and grasping for something to hold onto.

I look back to my new birth as the day Brian and I danced in the July rain at my friends’ home, where I had found a safe haven and had “escaped to.” I still had many obstacles to maneuver and trials to face, but getting soaking wet while dancing with my son and with a glass of wine in my hand was in fact a kind of symbolic baptism for me. I truly feel like I was born again and given a new chance during that summer shower.

Today, I feel like a new person. My life is fresh and vibrant, and I look at myself through a brand new set of eyes. I thank God continuously for answering my “deliver me” prayer, and I am grateful for all that happened, because it has brought me to who I am and where I am today. I look back at my past, and ask myself, “How could you……?”, but I know there is no clear answer. I had to go through that to get to this.

As I compile my journal entries from those two years, along with emails that I sent to family, friends, and lawyers on a regular basis, it is becoming a strange kind of travelogue. In typing my thoughts, which were handwritten on legal pads each day, I can see my own metamorphosis from who I was to who I am. While it brings back memories of the pain and exposes frailties about myself, it also maps the path I was on and marks all of the grace gifts given to me along my way. I don’t know that I’ll publish this account once I have it all put together, but I want to have it organized and in one place in case someone some day should want to read it.

Mainly, I am doing it for myself.


One thought on “Born Again! (But Not How You May Be Thinking)

  1. Scottie Atkins Spry

    Writing can be a powerful thing, Jennie. I, too, have often written – especially about problems in my life. If I’m angry or hurt, I have found that writing about my feelings allows me to go back and read later what I was feeling, and so often I am glad I wrote instead of spoke words to someone in hurt or anger. When my husband died ten years ago, I went back to teaching full time again because we had no money left due to medical bills including a lung transplant over a two year period. Teaching itself gave me purpose in my life when I was floundering, but it didn’t help that deep down grief. One day I was in the teacher’s lounge where about once a month one of the publishing companies would put out a display of books and gifts that were sold to us at a discount. I happened to stumble across a gratitude journal and it made a huge difference for me. I wrote in it every day when I came home – reminding myself how much I had to be thankful for despite my grief and loss. I was able, with time, to realize that I still had so much to be thankful for and it was definitely a blessing. It’s easy sometimes to feel adrift, and writing often helps to clarify things for me.
    I’m glad to know that it has helped you, too. That and faith can get us through some difficult times.

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