The Personal Testimony of Gina Bramlitt

                   All my life I have attended church at GraceBaptistChurch, Pontotoc Mississippi.Most of my fondest memories revolve around my church and church family.I can remember as a small girl I used to lie down on the pew with my head in my mother’s lap.I would lay my face against the cool pages of her Bible and fall asleep feeling like I was in the safest place in the world.I grew up hearing the men of God preaching the Gospel and the church praising God with all their hearts and souls.Believing in God was not a question that I had to think about.He is real.He is alive, and He walks among his people.              As a young girl I can clearly remember praying to God. Sometimes He answered and sometimes He did not.I can recall that I was never afraid during huge storms or even tiny ones.One might ask why?I believed in the big God who held the whole world in his hands and He loved me.All my life, I have never questioned whether or not God loved me; yet, the question of His wanting me was another I struggled with. To understand why I struggled with this, one must understand how I grew up.My mother always attended church and she took my older sister, my twin sister and I with her.My father and brother did not attend church and I wondered why.My father was a man who was not approachable.I knew he loved me, but he was not a loving man.He was distant, and because of many health problems in a lot of pain.But, he did teach me a lot about running a household.My mother worked long hours in a factory, and my father wanted my sisters and I to have supper cooked when she returned home.He wanted us to keep the house clean where my mother would not have to worry about it.One might think that was a little harsh, but now looking back I am thankful for every lesson learned.Growing up with a father like mine, I just assumed God would be the same.I knew He loved me, but was He approachable? To help explain why I questioned God’s wanting me, one must understand my personality and the contributing factors that molded it.I was born the second child of identical twins.My parents had lost a baby girl a year before my sister and I were born.My mother did not know she was having twins until three minutes after my older sister, Tina, was born and the doctor said there was another one.My mother always said that people told her that God blessed her with two to help with the loss of one.Tina and I were a miracle because we are the only set of twins in our family that survived. As I grew up, Tina and I were inseparable.We were the best of friends and thought so much alike that words were unnecessary much of the time.It is hard to explain our relationship because ordinary siblings have no clue what it is like being a twin.We were very protective of each other, and no one had better mess with the one without the wrath of the other.There was a period of time later in our lives when we were separated, and I thought it was the end of the world.But, that will come later. I have been shy most all my life.At school I would not say a word and I had very few friends.I was not a girly-girl and did not like dolls.So, most of the girls at school did not like me.I was picked on and made fun of.Therefore, I began to read a lot.I was a loner and was just fine with it.I could spend hours by myself and it was okay.I thought that since I was not “cool” like the rest of the kids, I could be smart and then they would like me.I was wrong and this avenue just brought on more teasing.But, I soon discovered that I liked school and was good at it.Thus, I began to focus on my schoolwork and began making A’s.I always felt left out and I thought my grades would bring me the recognition I wanted.It did in a sense, but the kids at my school still did not like me.At this point in my life, I decided that I did not care what they thought of me.I kept up with my grades and books became a great comfort to me.I was just fine being alone. As Tina and I entered junior high, things started to change at home and school.Tina became popular and began making a lot of friends.I became the sister who had to be invited also because I was her twin.I began to notice that no one really liked me and I became even more withdrawn.I started reading all the time and began to draw.I guess one could describe me as feeling like I was background music.I was there all the time, but hardly ever noticed because the volume was low. Around this time, I was about thirteen and my parents began to have trouble.My father did not believe what my mother believed about God and it was apparent he was not going to change.He became very angry and gave my mother a choice of him or God.By this time, my older brother and sister had moved out of the house.Therefore, my mother, Tina, and I left my father’s house.There was no question in my mind of which parent I would live with.I loved my mother with all my heart.She was my hero and the strongest person I had every met.I loved her fiercely and the thought of my father hurting her began a growing dislike of him in my heart.All my loyalty shifted to my mother and I followed her every time we had to move.I still loved my father because he was my father, but I no longer could trust him. The next year and half were very hard on my mother, Tina, and me.We had to start over.We moved around about nine times in the span of eighteen months.During this time, my oldest sister moved back home with my father, and Tina decided to move back with her.I felt betrayed and lost all in the same day.It was like a huge part of me went with her.A part of me died when she left.All the love, loyalty, and trust that we had was gone.So, it was my mother and I all alone.She became my best friend and I loved her even more if it was possible.During this time, we were still going to church, and I tried to fill the gap Tina left with books, school, and anything we did at church.I began to distrust God at this point.How could He take my best friend from me? Why did I have the father I did?Why did I not have the amount of love in my life that I saw in my friends at church? I began to lose the love I had for God from when I was a child.I still believed in God and his mighty power to see me and protect me, but I no longer wanted him with the same zeal.I still loved my church and everyone there, but I just could not love a God who would take the things I loved.I began to focus more on school and my never-ending search for acceptance. I entered high school and a whole new world.About this time, Tina moved back in with my mom and me.I was very glad she did, but the connection that we had had was gone.My freshman year I decided that I wanted to be valedictorian and strove to achieve that goal.I also took art classes and discovered a new passion.I actually had some talent when it came to drawing.I could not play any sports because of asthma and my working as a waitress, but I could draw.I became very prideful at this point.I mean I was smart and I could draw.I had never really thought about what I wanted to do with my life, but drawing made me want to think about it.I did not necessarily want to be a famous artist, but I did want to go to college to further my skills.I thought God would not let me have my dreams; after all, I had heard all my life that one had to give up everything to have God.Well, he had taken so much from me; He was not about to take the one thing I really loved to do.So, I became rebellious in my mind.I was going to take my art as far as it would take me. The summer before my junior year in school, Tina was saved.During that service, God moved on me but I really had not been searching for God like Tina had been.I remember that I knew I was not going to be saved, but I prayed that God would save Tina.And, He did.I was thrown into another world.Tina was once again someone I could not be.The old feelings of being left out took hold of me and I shut down once again.I focused more on school and art.I began to develop my skills and started to win prizes in local art contests and even state contests.Another school year passed by and I was still lost and having no thoughts of turning to God. The summer before my senior year came around along with our summer camp meeting.God had been dealing with me in certain sermons that would catch me off guard.Believe me, I was on guard constantly because I did not want to even think about what God would ask me to give up to be saved.There was one sermon that my pastor, Bro. Terry Owen, preached at a meeting on Pilgrim’s Progress.He preached on the slough of despond and how the devil could just drag one down and keep me there forever if they let him.He said that one had to use the promises of God as stepping-stones to get out of the mire.God moved on me during that sermon and I realized that I had been doing exactly that.But, afterwards I did not let the sermon take hold and it was soon forgotten.Before the summer meeting, I went into it thinking that maybe I could get saved this time.But, I had been placed on the nursery list for many of the night services.I was mad because I thought that would be the only chance that I could have to hear God and now I could not even do that.The meeting passed and I did not get saved.I talked to my pastor afterwards, and I asked him why I could not get saved.He told me that I really had not even been searching for God, and God would draw close to me if I would draw close to him.I told him that I felt like if I did not get saved before I went back to school I would just concentrate on school when I went back.The summer passed and I did not get saved. My senior year started and I was once again focused only on school.A strange thing happened that year.A guy from Tennessee moved to our school and he was reportedly really smart.I was thrown into a tailspin.All my plans, dreams, and hard work of wanting to be valedictorian came crashing down.I still tried my best to keep high grades, but it was not enough.At this point I realized that all my work had been in vain.No one cared that I was that smart.No one cared that I could draw the best at school.I had never really wanted to leave my home and become famous.So, my dreams changed.I wanted to teach art, be a mother and wife, and I still had trouble loving God.I was faced with the decision of where I wanted to go to college.I really did not feel like I was going against God’s will with my teaching art, but I decided to talk to my pastor about it.He told me it was okay.I graduated second in my class with plans of attending the local community college. Throughout the summer before I started college, God started to work in me about my pride and my strong will.There were sermons that I felt were preached directly to me.Strong people do not need physicians.There were sermons preached on God’s love for the humble.I really began to see just how prideful I was.There was still the matter of God’s wanting me though.There was one sermon in particular that helped me believe that God would want me.My pastor preached on having confidence and that helped my unbelief.One night I was talking to one of my friends, and he told me about how he grew up.It hit me that I had a lot to be thankful for and just how ungrateful I had been all my life.That night I prayed to God and thanked him for my life and how good he had been to me. Our church’s winter camp meeting came around.I went into the meeting believing that I could get saved.Thursday night came and God really did not move on me.Friday came and I was not expecting God to move on me.During the one another service, Tina gave me a picture with the verses of Daniel 5:23 which states, ‘’The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified,” and I Peter 4:17, “What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”God spoke to me through these verses.That night I came to church believing that all I had to do was ask God and He would save me.Bro. Tim Rutherford began to preach on the crippled man who was brought to Jesus by his friends and let down through the roof.At the beginning I felt God move on me and in my soul there was lots of turmoil.I could hear other lost people crying and I almost let the thought of unbelief set in that maybe it was not my time to be saved.But, I shrugged that off and thought it would be nice to share a birthday with them.In my heart I began to pray that God would just come by me.I wanted to go to the altar, but I did not want to just to be going.I wanted to talk to Bro. Terry, but felt like I could not without disrupting the service.I was thinking that I just could not do anything else, and the thought ran through my head that I could not do anything anyway, that it was up to God.Then, Bro. Robert sang a song he wrote called “He’s My Everything.”Every time I have heard that song, God has always told me He wants to be my everything, but in my heart I was telling God that I wanted to be His everything.I did not want the life that I had imagined.I just wanted God to know that He was my everything.There was still a lot of turmoil in my soul at this point because I did not know where to go from there.At that moment Bro. Terry stepped up to the pulpit and said that he thought someone just needed to rest, to lay their head on Jesus’ chest.I started to cry all over again, but I believed that I could finally rest.I immediately stopped crying and all the turmoil was gone.I could have heard a pin dropped in my soul it was so still.And it scared me half to death.But there is no denying the power I felt and the peace that came over me when God saved me.