Can You Become a Different Person? – Ewa

My life with Christ

What you can see is not my innate personality. By nature I’m shy, reserved, not confident and not willing to show my emotions. I prefer what’s “safe” and secure; I’m not very fond of changes or anything new; I rarely have “crazy” ideas. I’m very accurate, even painstaking. I value perfection – in myself and in others. Unfortunately, I rarely see or experience it. I really need other people’s acceptance and their unselfish friendliness, if not love… And I try to deserve it.

I entered my adult years with this kind of self-image. Having such a character, attitude and expectations, it’s easy to imagine how my life looked like. It was full of unpleasant surprises, lost hopes and abandoned plans (for they might not succeed). Finally I felt that nobody loved me or wanted me unless he or she had some hidden interest in it.

On the outside everything looked quite well; I guess many people envied me so called successes. I had a wonderful, loving family – parents and a sister; I was a good student. I went to university and earned a master’s degree in a field I had always wanted to study. I married my “fairy-tale prince” and gave birth to two wonderful daughters. We led quite a normal and peaceful life; no disasters, no serious tragedies – was there anything more you could possibly want? So why that strange, deep feeling of missing something? Maybe even emptiness, the feeling that there must be something more…

Someone would say: maybe you were missing God? But I considered myself a believer (and other people saw me that way, too). God was important to me. I tried to follow His will, to follow His commandments (although many times I failed). I was really zealous in my efforts.

Now I know what I was missing – a personal relationship with God, accepting Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord (and not only the Savior of the world in general). I had to trust Him in 100 percent, not only in 80 percent – in every smallest matter, even the most prosaic; and I had to be willing to follow God’s will (not my own). It was a decision, a conscious decision of will. My answer “yes” to God’s love for me. It happened fourteen years ago during an Advent retreat. In prayer I told Christ I needed Him, I needed His redemption and salvation. I agreed I couldn’t come to God through my own efforts. I asked Him to lead my life and to turn me into the person He wanted me to be.

This decision changed my life. I immediately noticed the first result of God’s work in me: I became more peaceful, more patient with my husband and children. The household chores were no longer such a burden to me; I began to do them more willingly. I became more courageous at work, for example, when something went wrong and I had to report it to the supervisor. I felt a strong need to know God through reading the Bible.

Today I can say that thanks to the Holy Spirit and His work in me I am now a totally different person. Although, as I said, I’m afraid of changes or anything new, God managed to make me a person who feels safe (in His arms), who has inner peace and joy and who knows where she’s going. I’m also aware of my self-worth – which comes from Him – and I’m not afraid of being rejected, misunderstood or unappreciated. In the past, that fear hindered my contacts with others; I was rather reserved and unapproachable. God’s love made me more open; I reach out to people more often and I notice their needs. Sometimes I’m even courageous, like now, when I am telling you about myself. Earlier in my life, all the public speeches and exams, even before a small audience, were almost like a torture for me.

I am no longer anxious about everything, about the future, too. I don’t require perfection from other people any more – God loves me the way I am, despite all my imperfections, shortcomings and faults, and despite the fact that I still let Him down. For all these years I’ve been experiencing God’s presence and care. I’m sure He will never give up on me and He will keep on working in me, shaping me according to His will.

This wonderful feeling of God’s presence gave me support during the hard years of my mother’s illness. It was a true example of His guidance and care, of His work to prepare me for the future events and to strengthen me as a result of those experiences. But that’s a whole different story.

Today I also want to tell you about God’s guidance in my career – His work has been very clear in this area, especially that He builds my self-confidence through this. As a matter of fact, I could say that my present professional situation is a result of His work.

I’m a chemical engineer. It’s a profession of my dreams. Right after my graduation I got a job which gave me a lot of satisfaction. But there came a time when I asked myself what was the purpose of my work. At that time I worked for a scientific institute ITE – I conducted a research on settling thin layers in the production of lasers which could be used in a military field. And that was the problem – I wasn’t sure if God approved of that. When I shared those doubts with my friends from the Bible study group, one of them had an idea that maybe I could make use of my knowledge of English and French. At the end of our meeting we prayed for God’s help and wisdom in that matter. And for the first time in my life I got such a quick answer to a prayer! We barely finished praying when the door phone rang – it was our friend who happened to be looking for someone with a good command of English. Eventually I started to work for him, at first in a foundation, then in a publishing house.

But that wasn’t the end of changes in my professional life. God had for me something even better which I had never expected. After a few years I grew up to a decision of “going on my own” – as a translator. I was sure it was “God’s idea” – it required too much courage for me to do it by my own efforts. I had no linguistic education; the job market for translators was full. How could I successfully enter it? At first I thought I would mostly work on technical translations but those expectations didn’t confirm. Today I translate almost only Christian books, but during those eight years I’ve seen how God has been guiding me in that matter, choosing subjects that I especially need. He also helped me to make a decision to translate only the books that benefit readers.

During the years of work as an independent translator, I sometimes receive various “presents” from God. These are the occasions or possibilities that literally fall from heaven. They appear without any of my direct effort, or with such a small effort that I cannot take any credit for them. Like, for example, when after couple of years of a constant cooperation with a publishing house, the publisher got into serious financial problems and suddenly I lost my main source of work and revenue. As someone still of little courage, I sent my offer (instead of making a direct contact) to various publishing houses (chosen from a phone book). At that time I already had some experience as a translator, but the answer I got exceeded all my expectations. During one and a half weeks I received three offers (to eight or ten letters I had sent) and since then I’ve been seriously involved in the Christian book market.

Last year, the publishing house for which I translated short Bible stories for children four years ago, offered me to write a few words and to choose Bible passages for a special First Communion album.

I receive those presents when I especially need some kind of encouragement or support. It reassures me that God really knows my deepest needs, He knows how to satisfy them – and He does it.

A professional career that allows me to feel close to God and to get to know Him better (e.g. when I translate various versions of the Bible for children or some Bible commentaries), to me is like a compensation for shortages in other areas of life. It’s a great privilege and happiness that builds my trust and faith.

I need that kind of support because my home is divided. My husband declares himself as an unbeliever, so there is no spiritual bond between us (which could be possible if we both loved God). Of course, it results from a choice he made many years ago, maybe without being fully aware of the consequences; nevertheless, it still affects the whole family. But thanks to God’s strength and support which I experience in my professional and personal life, I still have hope. The hope for the future life of my husband, for his salvation. Despite all my weakness, God can work in this area, too. Of course, I can try to be the best wife possible and this way to show my husband how much Christ loves him. Although unfortunately I often fail in this matter, I can trust God that He will make use of my poor efforts.

Four years ago, when I told a story of my life with Jesus, I called it “a testimony of an ordinary life.” I thought there was nothing special in it, no extraordinary events, “only” a continuous presence of God which brings security and confidence. But now I think no life is ordinary when there is God in it. And today I would rather call my life “a happy life.”