Leslie Brotherton's Christian Testimony

 

Why I have chosen to follow the Christian life & be baptized...

 

I have for the most part always believed in a higher power.  Up until recently, I wasn’t quite sure what it was that I was believing in.  I knew vaguely of God.   I had no clue what Jesus had done for us in giving his life so that we may be saved.  I had no clue the holy spirit even existed, much less who he is & his purposes.  I had never even heard of the Trinity.  I basically believed that if you treated people the same way that you would like to be treated & lived what I thought to be a good life, hopefully when the day came, I would go to heaven.

 

I have always been known for my peppiness, my endless energy, and my positive outlook on basically everything hence my work nicknames, happy & smiley.  Something happened to me this past winter that brought all of that to a grinding halt.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened.  I think it started in January.  Up to this point, I had never been depressed a day in my life.  When I would hear about other people in depression, I couldn’t comprehend it.  Well… I now know that yes, it’s real… nobody was pulling my leg.  I’m not sure what caused it.  I think it was a combination of many factors.  Career, finances, family, personal relationships, poor decisions… you name it, I was going through it.  Numerous things that I had been putting off came crashing down all @ once.   In the midst of all of this, I started drinking… probably more than is healthy for any individuals liver or bank account.  I had no regard for my health… I stopped working out & began eating everything I shouldn’t.   I stopped going to church.   It became a chore to get myself out of bed.  I never wanted to leave my house.  I shut most of my friends & family out.  Unless you were w/ me when I would drag myself out of the house for a few drinks, you didn’t see or talk to me.  I had completely lost my drive in life. The Leslie I had always known had died.   I felt like I had no purpose.  I questioned why I was even here!  What good am I?   I was so embarrassed w/ myself, I didn’t tell anyone what was happening to me.  I was waiting to wake up one day & everything be back to normal.  I needed a miracle.  I remember wanting someone to step in & save me.  Months into my depression I finally opened up & told my best friend Becca.  Over the course of a few weeks I told her some of what I was going through & that I thought I needed help.  She had gone through depression while we were growing up.  I asked her what she thought about anti-depressants.  She was completely against the idea.  I have never been one to condone prescription med’s.  I have seen what they can do to destroy lives.  I so desperately wanted to fix my problem that I was willing to try anything.  She made me promise that would be my last resort. Even my mom knew something was wrong.  She would call & call.  I wouldn’t answer and when she would finally get me on the phone, I had nothing to say.  I helped her a few hours a week w/ her business and when confronted face to face, she would ask me what was wrong.  All I could do was cry & tell her that I didn’t know.   I wanted to tell her about everything that I was going through, let it all out, but I could never bring myself to it.  If it wasn’t for her unrelenting concern & support, I know things would have gotten much worse.   I woke up one day realizing that no one was going to just walk in & save me from what had become of my life.  I had gotten myself to this place & I had to find my way out.  If I wanted change, I had to do it myself. I turned to my last resort.  GOD.  I think it was the first week of May.   I challenged myself to 30 days of sobriety. (something I hadn’t done since High School) & I made the executive decision to start reading the Bible.  I went to my nanny & asked her for a Bible, instead of one she ended up giving me 5!  I also found a book that had been sitting on my shelf for a year or two.  I had taken it from my mom’s house.  She had bought it by recommendation of our Mary Kay director & had never read it herself.  The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.  I was looking for a reason, a purpose to live for & was hoping to find it in one of these books.  One of the first pages of The PDL, you sign a covenant.  It states, “With God’s help, I commit the next 40 days of my life to discovering God’s purposes for my life.”  I signed & dated it May 11, 2008.  The first few chapters of The Purpose Driven Life were simple concepts, but something that I didn’t see myself giving into.  It’s not about me?  Since when?  It’s all for him?  What… why is that?  I continued to reluctantly read on.  It is a 40 chapter book.  You read one chapter a day.  There were days that I missed, but my will to find whatever it was that I was looking for kept me coming back. The Old Testament was very hard for me to understand, but I kept @ it.  I would try to read 20 pages a day.   After a couple of weeks, things started to make sense.  My ground was still very, very shaky, but I was beginning to have some hope.  I felt like Paula Abdul.  For every 2 steps forward, I’d take 1 step back.

 

I started my 6 week Turner gig the first week of June.  I was trying so hard to get my act together beforehand. My job w/ ESPN, I am only obligated to be in contact w/ 10-15 other people.  I had done a pretty good job of hiding what was going on up until this point.  With Turner, I would be in contact w/ @ least 200 people throughout the work week.  If I didn’t pull it together & pull it together fast, I would be letting down a great opportunity. I prayed & prayed to find the Leslie I lost somewhere along the way.  The first week was tough, but I pulled it off.   I was starting to develop faith… a concept I had never understood.  I attended church for the first time in a long time that week.  The first 15 weeks of work, ESPN only covered Nationwide races, so I was always traveling home on Sunday.   I hadn’t been to church since December!  It was such a breath of fresh air.  I also made a connection with Ashley Washington that week.  I met her the year before, but we never really got to know each other.  I am lost for words trying to describe her.  All I can say is she is truly a Godsend. 

 

Week 2 with Turner was much better.  Somewhere in b/w Pocono & Michigan I came back to life.  I don’t know where I had been, but I was going to do whatever it took to keep things moving forward.  I’ll never forget… my connection flight out of Michigan.  I think it was in Cleveland.  I had some time in b/w flights, so I got a seat sitting in the sun  & was catching up on my reading in The Purpose Driven Life.  I was just finishing up when Lorne Ottinger began to walk up.  He also lives in the Richmond area & was on the same flight.  Lorne & I have always had a great connection.  I don’t know what started it, but we’ve had a game of tag going on for about 3 years now.  As I see him walking up, I throw my book in my bag.  It was like I was almost ashamed of my beliefs.  I didn’t want anyone to judge me for what I believed in.  Lorne, immediately asked what I was reading.  I try & blow it off & tell him nothing much.  He saw the book.  He knew what I was reading.  He then informed me that he had read the same book more than once.  We sat for the next hour or so discussing faith & beliefs.  It was a huge turning point in my life.  I had never discussed spiritual beliefs w/ anyone like I had with Lorne.  I’ve had the occasional do you believe in God… the big bang, etc.  Nothing quite to this extent.  I would never have expected him to have the faith he does either.  Lorne answered many of my questions that day & has been a guiding light of mine ever since.  He taught me what fellowship is all about.

 

Then California came around. Week 3 with Turner.  I’m in total disbelief.  It’s like I had woke up from a bad dream.  Everything I had been missing, I had found.  The void I have felt my whole life, like something was missing, was now filled.  The Funny thing was, it was here with me all along.  Sitting on a shelf in my room collecting dust, patiently waiting to be read.  I am no longer ashamed of my faith.  I don’t feel like I have to hide it anymore.  Dawn, whom works for Turner sees The PDL sitting @ my desk… she comments, what  a great book.  She recommended that I read the Shack by William Young.  Throughout the week I have @ least 10 people tell me how they have also read the PDL & what a profound difference it has made in their life.  I had no clue that so many people believed.  It’s like when you buy a new car.  Once you get it, you see them everywhere.  My eyes had been opened to a whole new world.  Ashley, Angela & I were developing a friendship while working together that I know will last a lifetime.  They are both strong believers in their faith.  The next few weeks fly by faster than I would have liked them to.  We are in Loudon, Daytona & Chicago.  My faith is continuing to grow & the “great depression” is now just a memory.  Thank GOD.

 

I see Becca going through some of the things I was during the beginning of my depression.  The last thing I wanted was for my best friend to have to go through any of what I had just triumphed.  I buy her The PDL & ask her to read it.  Even if she didn’t understand or believe what she was reading, I hoped it could help her like it did me.  She accepted.  Lorne’s brother Darren had told me anytime that I wanted to read the book again, he would like to do it together.  He had read it a few times & was up for it again.  We set a start date of July 7th & all begin reading the book together.  We set it up so we had a daily email discussion of what we read & what our takes were on it.  I also forwarded the email to Ashley daily for her insights.  The next several weeks defined my life.  I think it is safe to say they had done the same for Becca & hopefully Darren too.  The 2nd time around reading the book was completely different than the first.  I wasn’t reluctant to believe in what I was reading.  I understood it.  Where I had only underlined a sentence here & there the first time, now I had highlighted nearly the whole page.  My life will never be the same after this experience.  We picked up a few people along the way.  One of my best friends MaiLyn, whom I go to church with when I am home asked to be a part of the emails. While I was forwarding her the chapter discussions we had already done so she could catch up, I accidentally forwarded the email to everyone in my address book!  I remember thinking, great… now all of my friends & co-workers are going to think I am a religious, babbling nut!  Then, I really began to think about it & realized, who cares!  Shame on them if they judge me.  Each chapter has a question.  The question for this chapter was: “Since I was made to last forever, what is the one thing I should stop doing & the one thing I should start doing today?”  Ironically, this was my answer:  “As far as the question goes the one thing that I should start doing & am trying very hard to do so is to not care what others think or say about me.  It is alot easier said than done.  As far as what I should start doing, it's a road that I am already traveling down, changing the way I think.  "When you fully comprehend that there is more to life than just here & now, & you realize that life is just preparation for eternity, you will begin to live differently.  You will start living in light of eternity, & that will color how you handle every relationship, task & circumstance."  I need to start applying this.”  After sending out this mass email, I immediately followed up w/ an email titled “please disregard the last email.”  Obviously, I piqued the interests of a select few.  Within minutes I  was receiving emails saying how they liked it.  Some had asked that they be a part of the next time we read the book.  Dan Garbacz sent me: “Why on earth would I disregard the most relevant email you've ever sent me!!”  Weeks later I was still getting the occasional response.  I had someone whom never responded walk up to me a few weeks ago saying they enjoyed reading it & that I shouldn’t be embarrassed for forwarding it.  This is one powerful book.

 

One of the greatest lessons I have learned the over the past several months is patience.  My whole life I have been the most impatient person I know.  I wanted things now not later.  Always trying to force my agenda.  A quote that I found when I needed it most, “These things I plan won’t happen right away.  Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass.  Just be PATIENT!  They will not be overdue a single day! –God”

 

I thank God for all of the people he put in my path to help me understand him & his plan & the support of my family & friends in this transition of mine.

 

To answer the question, why have I chosen the Christian path & to be baptized?   Beating depression was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I look back on where I was & where I have been & look @ where I am now & what lies ahead & know that I have made the right decision.  God truly saved my life.  In a sense, I had died & am now reborn.  I never, ever want to go back to what once was.  I can’t imagine my life w/o the faith I now have.  Life is amazing.  The problems & troubles we all face are still here, & always will be.  However, they are much easier to face knowing that I am not facing them alone.   I choose to get baptized to show you all & our father above my relentless commitment to my unwavering faith.  It’s not a secret I have to keep anymore.  I am far from ashamed.

 

 

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