As is customary, on each of my birthdays, I take the time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the coming year. It is only in recent times that I have actually been doing the same with my spiritual birthday. That awesome day when I decided at 10 years old, dealing with the issues of sexual abuse, that I needed more help than could have been provided by anyone here on earth. I was introduced to Jesus. But it was not the easiest road that I had to travel. I battled with the issue of lust for most of my spiritual life.
I spent a whopping 36 years in the wilderness. During this time I faced trial after trial, knowing that something is still missing. I have never failed to acknowledge God in my life, but my walk was not demonstrating a Kingdom life. Do not get me wrong, I do not believe that when one comes to salvation that their life automatically becomes easy. I always expected the trials and because I expected them to come, I was not easily fazed by them. By this time in my life I already had what I believed was a healthy attitude to challenges, thanks in no small part to my mother who taught me that they are meant to be faced, not shrunk from.
During this walk, the trail took many twists and turns, most of them my own choosing. From violence (I inherited both my father’s and mother’s temper), to fornication, to smoking (weed, cigarettes), profanity, I lived a life of rebellion to the fullest. All this time, I never thought that I was in rebellion to God. I was just living life the way I wanted to. I never cared what anyone else thought, I just did my thing. My life has been colorful at best. I lived a life of adventure. I learned to scuba dive, I wrote books, I performed my poetry. My friends lived vicariously through me. They were enjoying my life. I was bored. I was still searching.
What would cause a child who CHOSE salvation, who RECOGNIZED her need for salvation to live such an immoral life? What could have been the missing ingredient? In our household, it was never an issue of whether or not we went to church. My mother felt no urge to insist that we go to church. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever told her of my salvation experience at all. To give her her due, she never stopped us if we wanted to go to church.
Between 2000 and 2007 I became known for a brand of poetry that was centered around sex. Sensuality was the order of the day. Tired of being put in a box (always hated that), I branched out to speaking about sexual issues as it related to social commentary. In 2007, I made a promise to God, “no more poetry, no more performance, unless it glorifies You” For years I have advocated paid performances for poets on major shows. Too often poetry was seen as the orphan child of entertainment, and performing poets were not given even a stipend with the excuse “this will give you exposure”. As soon as I made that promise, I started receiving offers to perform for pay. I refused them all.
I had begun a new journey. I realised that after 32 years I still did not know my God. I did not immediately change my life. I lived with my boyfriend (now my husband) for 4 1/2 years before getting married. But the Lord was working on me. I have one very close friend in my community. She got saved and I recommitted my life shortly after. For the first time in many years, I took up a Bible. I started to read the Word. I was surprised that for an avid reader like myself, it was difficult for me to read the Bible and retain anything. I started to use the technology available to me – worship music, audio bible etc. I had long since gotten bored with parties, so avoiding them was not an issue. I just wanted to fill my spirit with something different. I also realised that all those years of not reading the Word, going to church was just sheer laziness on my part. Anytime you find yourself rationalizing the Bible to fit your lifestyle, you can be certain that you are on the wrong path.
One of the greatest ironies of my life, is that for years my mentor and pastor was Pastor Patrick Redwood, yet I never set foot in his church. But he was (and still is) the coolest pastor I have ever met. When I was around him, I never felt condemned. I never felt judged. I could tell him anything. He was always such a gentle presence in my life. He guided me ever so gently that I was not aware of being led. I just knew that when he prayed for me that heaven heard. When Rohan and I decided to get married, I told Pastor Redwood that if he did not marry us and counsel us, we would not get married. That was not blackmail, that was just indicating the level of trust we both had in him.
When Rohan and I got married, I am sure I heard the last piece of the puzzle that was my life snap into place. It was as if God was waiting for my life to come into order. The blessings started to flow. The more I read His Word, the more I came into a personal relationship with Him. I came into the knowledge of who He was to me and more importantly who I was to Him. It has made all the difference. Challenges and trials still come, but I walk in expectancy of blessings. I have moved to a new street called THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH and I live UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY. I rest BESIDE STILL WATERS and allow Him to RESTORE MY SOUL.
In the last three years, I am sure that I have gotten it right much more than I used to. I have a zeal for the things of God like I have never even had for the things of the world. I look back and realise how much He has preserved me from all the harm I could have inflicted on myself and others and I am grateful for such a loving Father.
Sylvia M Dallas
Poet, Author, Photographer and Teacher of the Word and CEO and Director of Creator Services at The Publisher's Notebook Limited based in Jamaica. She is married to Rohan Dallas, is a proud grandmother, loves coffee (Jamaican, of course), loves great tasting and healthy food, love to cook and is an unabashed follower of Jesus Christ. Her books AND THE PRISONERS HEARD THEM, THE RIGHT KIND OF INTIMACY and THE BED DEFILED are available on Amazon.