• Diane Ruiz

There is Hope


Have you ever felt like your life was a complete mess and there was no hope of recovery from the hurt and pain? My life as a teenager through young adulthood was a continuous cycle of bad choices. By age 21, I had hurt so many and been hurt by so many that I had completely lost all faith in what I believed was the goodness of myself and other people. I didn’t believe that good people existed. What was good anyway? After all, even the people who are supposed to love you the most end up hurting you. I was hard hearted, lived my life walking alone, thinking that I was the only one who knew what was best for me. I blocked people out, even the ones who seemed to want to help. I didn’t believe that I needed anyone. I would tell myself, “It’s alright, I’m strong & independent. I can do this on my own”. The truth is my spirit was broken, I was weak and I had no confidence left.

I had brought 2 beautiful daughters into the world out of an extremely toxic and unhealthy relationship. Leaving that relationship was the hardest thing I ever did. I didn’t want my children to grow up without a father, but I knew I had to get out for our safety and for them to have a chance at a better life. I wanted more than anything to raise them on the right path, but I soon realized I had no idea how I was going to do that. I had not even figured out the right path myself. How could I teach them anything about values and morals? So, I did the best I could with what I knew and just kept living as a single mom working on rebuilding my life. Trying my very best to do what I thought were the right things for them. Making a living to provide for them and giving them a safe home.

I met my now husband, Robert, when I was 23. Things started out great as relationships usually do. We had a lot in common. We both came from broken relationships. He had a daughter and I had 2 girls. We had what I thought was an average relationship. I mean, all couples disagreed and had fights, didn’t they? It didn’t take long for us to move in together and get married. We were normal… Yet somehow, my heart knew that something was wrong. We were missing something. Eventually, our arguments turned into unpredictable explosions that led to days without speaking to each other, then to make-ups without actual forgiveness. We were holding accounts of each other’s wrongs only to use them as ammunition against each other later. We had no idea what a healthy relationship looked like. Something needed to change or we were not going to make it.

One year, I was looking for an Easter Egg Hunt to take the kids too and I stumbled upon this egg hunt that was totally FREE. My immediate thought was, "No way! There must be a catch." Still we signed up and went to check it out, with some cash, just in case. It turned out that I didn't pay a dime for anything, not even snacks. In one of the bags that my daughter received, there was a flyer with Skyline Church’s information on it. So, I became curious and decided to go check out one of the services. I remember being intrigued by how the message seemed to speak directly to me and what I was experiencing. Everyone seemed down to earth, my kids loved the children’s program and the service music was oddly enjoyable. It was unlike any other church I had visited before. I kept coming back, attending sporadically for another 2 years or so. I was always greeted with smiles and hugs and they seemed to go out of their way to speak to me and were interested in getting to know me no matter how much time passed between my visits. It took me a while before I started to think, maybe these people really are genuinely kind. Maybe God is really working through them and can work through me too.

It took some convincing, but soon my husband visited Skyline and he fell in love with it too. Soon after, we decided to take the first step, a commitment to attend regularly every Sunday. Overtime we began to realize that for our relationship to succeed, Jesus needed to be at the center of it. If we wanted to raise our children on the right path, we needed to be on the right path. It wasn’t enough to just bring our kids to church. We needed to have God in our hearts and his word in our minds. It was then that I knew I needed to ask Jesus to enter my heart. I prayed and asked God to forgive me of my sins and for him to become the leader of my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but my husband had also been praying on his own and had asked God to forgive him and begin working in his life. When he told me that he wanted to get baptized, we decided to take that step together and from that point a chain reaction seemed to take place. We became involved in ministries and joined weekly life groups. We gained a courage to let down our guards and reach out to people to ask for help and wisdom. We took every class that Skyline had to offer and with each step that we took, our hearts grew and changed. It was evident that God was at work in our lives.

It has been seven years since we began taking steps to walk the path of growth with God and our lives have changed so much. Don't get me wrong, life is not perfect, but our relationship is now the strongest that it has ever been. We still go through challenges together, in our family and everyday lives, but the things that we have learned and the faith we now have has impacted our lives forever. We know what it means to offer grace to each other and other people because as undeserving as we are, God freely offers his grace to us. How can we not do the same? We have learned how to work through our struggles with clear principles from God’s word. We are able to have have peace during challenges because we hold onto his promises as our anchor. Whatever each storm may bring, we are confident that it is going to grow us and clarify what is most important. Every time we have fixed our thoughts on God's truth during a struggle, we have been able to see the fruit of how our responses to it have brought him glory and, in turn, impacted those around us. It's been so amazing to watch! God never promised us that life would be easy or problem free, but we have found that when we trust him, we can build a foundation that leads to a life worth living.

“Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary."

Hebrews 6:18-19

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