Susan Pedersen

Jesus has always been an important part of my life. I was raised Roman Catholic. I attended mass every Sunday, went to confession once a month, attended stations of the cross every Friday in Lent, and honored the Blessed Mother during the month of May. I attended catholic school until the eighth grade. Although religion was a big part of my life, I did not really understand what Jesus did for me. I knew he died on the cross for my sins but did not fully comprehend the depth of his sacrifice. That came later in life.

I continued going to church every Sunday until I got married. I was not under the rule of my parents any longer, so I stayed away from attending mass. I still had faith in the Lord but going to church was not at the top of my list of things to do. My husband was not Catholic and did not attend his church either; so, that made it even easier to not attend. Although I loved the Lord, I put him on the back burner.

I decided it was time to go back to church and unload on the Lord. He was there for me. No questions asked. Attending church was the only time I could truly relax. I could breathe again because I knew the Lord was in my corner.

After the birth of our daughter, I still found it too inconvenient to attend church. Then life started sending me curve balls. I had a job that controlled my life, my parents were in despair concerning my father’s job opportunities, and my brother was going through a divorce. I decided it was time to go back to church and unload on the Lord. He was there for me. No questions asked. Attending church was the only time I could truly relax. I could breathe again because I knew the Lord was in my corner. It was such a relief. I attended the Capuchin Monastery in North Wilmington. One could feel that this place was holy.

Then, I started to realize my love for Jesus was more than just knowing him. I wanted to understand more about what he did for us when he died on the cross. One could say that this was a turning point for me in my desire to truly understanding how to love the Lord.

It was then that I realized that I needed the Lord in my life. This was my wake-up call. I started to feel more at ease. I continued to attend church, making it a priority. It was not just an obligation, but it was my salvation. Sundays were centered around the Lord. I wanted my daughter to know the Lord I always refer to Sundays as our Family Day. It started with church and the rest of the day we spent together as a family.

In 1993 we moved to Middletown. My daughter, Laura, was five. We attended St. Joe’s Catholic Church. I made sure Laura attended Sunday school and received her first communion. I taught Sunday school and became a Eucharistic Minister. 

I experienced several events that made me realize that Jesus sent messengers to us without our even realizing it.

I experienced several events that made me realize that Jesus sent messengers to us without our even realizing it. The first experience was rather profound. I was grocery shopping on a Saturday evening with my one-year old toddler. I was exhausted and frustrated. I got done the grocery shopping and was walking out to the parking lot when my one-year old toddler knocked over a dozen eggs sitting at the top of the cart. I scolded her. At that time, a woman walked up to me and said that it was just a dozen of eggs, not the end of the world. I looked at her and wondered why she was even giving me this advice. She proceeded to tell me about the death of her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren and a fire that occurred in Odessa a week earlier. I stood there dumbfounded and realized that the dozen eggs weren’t important at all. I cried and  she comforted me. I knew that Jesus was working through this woman to help me realize what was important in life.

The second experience occurred at work. I met a patient when he first came to our office with a serious eye injury. He was a large, burley, loud guy. I judged him harshly without even knowing him. He consistently arrived late for his appointments and he knew it made me angry. I had a deadline to leave work by 5:00 every night to pick up my daughter from daycare but he didn’t know that. His visit usually lasted about one hour, and he always arrived at 4:30 PM. He would yell down the hall saying, “Look, she’s angry with me.” (His language was more colorful.) He really got on my nerves, until one day I had two deaf patients that could only sign. The one patient needed to have a dye test done on his eyes. This procedure required a great deal of explanation. And of course, I did not know how to sign. On the way to the photography room, out walks my loud buddy from another exam room. He proceeded to greet these two fellows by signing with them. Much to my surprise I found out that day both of his parents were deaf, and he could sign fluently. He stayed around for the remainder of their appointment and helped me translate. I knew that Jesus was at work to help me understand that everyone has a story and not to judge people so harshly. I later found out that he had a tattoo on his right arm with the sign language symbol of I love you, and underneath the symbol were the words “mom and dad.”

Another time Jesus worked through others was with my patient at Wilmington hospital. This patient was very short-sighted. He could not see at a distance or read up close without glasses. Even with this deficit, he was able to read the Bible at arm’s length which is impossible for a highly myopic person. I was astounded. I pointed to several different verses in the Bible and he was able to do this repeatedly. I saw Jesus hard at work. I always think about these occurrences when I start to judge someone harshly. I realized that Jesus loves all of us and forgives us for our indiscretions.

My love for Jesus continued to grow, and I continued to gain more of an understanding of his love as time went on. About twenty years ago, my husband expressed interest in attending church. He was not a big fan of the catholic church. He was raised Presbyterian. That is when we started to attend New Covenant Presbyterian Church. Attending church as a family was important to me, so I agreed to attend church with him.

I did not realize at the time what was in store for me.  My faith journey continued to grow. I needed to adjust to the ways of my new church, but throughout time I started to feel at home with my church family. I never thought about having a church family. This was a new concept for me. I went through many hardships during this time including dealing with addiction problems in my family. Both my brother and niece struggled with addiction. Within two years I lost my father, brother and mother. 

My mother died in a horrific auto accident on Route 1. She was traveling north and ended up in the south bound lane. She was hit head on by oncoming traffic.  Fortunately, she was the only fatality. This is when I truly discovered my church family.  They rallied around me and helped me cope with the loss of my mother. Again, I discovered that my faith in the Lord would help carry me through. This was another turning point with my faith journey. Because I understood more clearly that Jesus’ love for all mankind is never ending, I was able to understand that my mother’s death was part of God’s plan. 

I learned more about the Bible during this time. I attended a Bethel Bible Series as a student. Pastor Burkley asked me to attend the teacher class. I was reluctant. I knew the new testament but only highlights from the old testament. There was no way I could teach this series to anyone. He insisted that I could and would not take “no” for an answer. It was the best thing that could have ever happened. Again, I turned another corner. I discovered that the Bible helped explain a great deal to me about the Lord. My faith journey continued to grow and is still growing today.

I did go through the teacher class and taught a class. This is when my understanding of the bible grew by leaps and bounds. I learned even more by teaching this class. I made life-long friends. I learned that Genesis 12:2-3 teaches that we are blessed to be a blessing. I found out that in Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

My love for Jesus continues to grow. He is my Savoir. I know that he is always there when I need a shoulder to cry on or when I need advice. He sends me life lessons when I need a better understanding of his love and mercy for everyone. I have learned that you don’t need to be affluent or well known to do the work of the Lord and that he will use all people to spread his word.

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