My Time - January 2010

by Melissa Vanover


Damaged but Delivered

By living a sinful life I was only blocking the blessings that have since come my way and going through the pain. I never understood (at the time) why I would be put through such emotional torture. The explanation of that part of God’s plan has been revealed to me.

For years I struggled with homosexuality. But it was all in secret. Then in 1998 I was sentenced to prison, where I found myself not wanting to be alone, having already been familiar with the same sex. I ventured out (as so many do here in prison) looking for comfort in the arms of another woman. Relationship after dysfunctional relationship, the only thing I was left with was a broken heart and bitter spirit.

Through each relationship God continued to tug at my heart. I knew it wasn’t right, but I ignored him and kept on. But I was only hurting myself by getting right back into something that was not healthy (for me, spiritually, or in the flesh). Finally I was broken, so hurt, and the pain was so great that I had no choice but to turn away from the sin that had me bound for years.

I truly have no desire to be that way. Yes, I care about that certain person, because once you’ve loved someone, the heart just doesn’t stop caring because you think it is supposed to or because it’s not caring about the right person in a godly way. You have to pray for God to purify that love. Turn a distorted love into Christian love.

Now, I believe God allowed me to be used as his instrument here in this prison. This was all part of his plan. I used to think, “Yeah, right, how could, why would God use me? I’m a sinner, a ‘murderer’ nonetheless!” Well, why wouldn’t he? He used Saint Paul, didn’t he? So, yes, God used me, he allowed me to go through the process to one day testify to how great he is for bringing me out of it, and to hopefully one day help someone else going through the same thing.

I wouldn’t listen to God when things were good and I was enjoying my lifestyle. No, he had to get my attention somehow. And sometimes God uses pain to get our attention and draw us in a particular direction. I know my purpose now and I pray that I can be the instrument God would have me to be.

I read and want to share with you the following: “Perseverance isn’t a lot of fun. Yet it is perseverance that allows God to take our muddled messes and turn into miracles. He delights in transforming the black carbon pressures of our life into diamonds of radiant beauty. But doing all that requires a process. A process that takes time. A process that is sometimes painful!”

It took time and a lot of emotional pain to get me where he wanted me. At the time, I didn’t understand, especially being the good person, why this kept happening to me. Well, for one, it wasn’t of God. And going through the pain I was in a way being scorned like a child being spanked. I’ve been here a long time, and out of all the relationships I’ve witnessed, none of them are healthy. Thank God the institution is allowing us to have revivals which take place on the ball field, so that individuals that don’t want to come to church can come to them with surround sound.

I simply love it. Even the ears that try to ignore the message hear it anyway. Maybe one day it will touch their hearts and they will become willing participants. I know there were plenty of times that I sat in the bleachers trying to ignore the message, but couldn’t. God was talking directly to me. It just took time – God knowing I was hard-headed. I had received 25 years to life because he knew it was going to take time.

We all have bad times; life is tough. But it’s not about getting through the storm. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. Don’t ever let life’s disappointments make you note believe in rainbows, because there is a pot of gold for everyone. You just have to find it!