Tamara overcomes her past to become a daughter of God
Tamara overcomes her past to become a daughter of God
As a child, Tamara Forde’s experience of churchgoers was that they were inconsistent. “People wore masks,” she says. “How they behaved at church was not how they behaved at home.”
This was also reflected in her own home. “We [my family] presented well at church. Behind closed doors at home, it was a very different story,” she recalls. “I stopped regularly attending church around the age of 12, following my parents’ divorce.”
In 2015, Tamara started thinking about giving church another go, if only to give her two boys (Jonah and Levi) a Christian upbringing. She had some friends who were connected to Townsville Riverway Recovery Mission, so she started talking to them.
“My friends mentioned about coming along to the Christmas Eve dinner at the corps. I had a few weeks to think about it and, on the day, I asked if I could come along and serve. My husband (Mark), children and mother-in-law came along, too,” she says. Early in 2016, Jonah and Levi began attending the corps Kidz Club, which was usually followed by a barbecue dinner and ‘Night Church’.
“My boys would often stay for the dinner, and I would chat with the corps officers and other Salvos,” says Tamara. “They would invite me to ‘meetings’, but I didn’t realise that was church. I grew up in the Anglican Church and had a very different idea of church.
“After months of invitations, I decided to stop letting fear have control and attended church one Sunday. I remember listening to Major Beth Twivey preaching, and during her sermon, she referred to herself as a sinner. I was astonished. A minister calling themselves a sinner! It was true honesty. There were no masks.”
Although she had grown up in the Church, Tamara admits she had never accepted Christ as her Lord and Saviour: “I always had God, but I never let him have me.”
Wanting to “try a different way of living”, Tamara took the step to hand control of her life over to God, which led to her being enrolled as a senior soldier in September this year.
“For me, it’s another step of faith and trusting in God’s plan for my life,” Tamara says. “I was so tired of carrying the weight of my past and the fear that was overshadowing all the good in my life.”
The biggest obstacle in my life – and God’s biggest miracle – has been learning to trust. Handing everything over to God was literally terrifying at times, but he was with me every step of the way, and He continues to be to this day.”
Tamara was enrolled as a senior soldier on Sunday 12 September, in a ceremony conducted by Corps Officer Captain Helen Whittle.
“I wrote this letter [below] to God to say thank you for taking me on this journey,” she says.
Well, today is no surprise to you
I stand here in a uniform of white and blue
Surrounded by my family and many friends
Who have journeyed with me through my twists and bends.
Lord, I thank you for each and every one
Who has shown me you and encouraged me on.
Five years ago, it was part of your plan
That I walked through those doors and into your hand
I was so broken, so scared and felt on my own
But I now know you were right here with me, I was never alone.
Each step I have taken you have been there
Healing me, lifting me, showing me that you care
You took my issues with trust that had roots very deep
And dug up each one and replaced it with seed to grow and reap
You walked me to the ledge, my fears I had to face
Even then, I thought I’d step and land in the darkest place
But you were there, shining your light
Healing my pain with your transformative might
You taught me how to forgive even when the pain was too much
You held me tightly and released the strongholds with your touch.
You are not who I thought you to be
A punishing God who was ashamed of me
Instead, you are love, mercy and grace
I never understood those words until I felt your embrace
Through your love, you have broken my walls down
You show me how to love and accept love abound
In your mercy, I am created anew
Put in this place to tell others of you
In your grace, you have gifted me my greatest joys
Being a wife to my husband and mother to our boys.
There are times I struggle to comprehend how you see me
You remind me often, I am not what I’ve done but who you created me to be
I cannot take back or change the things I have done
But you will use our story to show others the things we have overcome
You are patient with me when I put your promises to the test
But we both know I will forever be your work in progress
When those thoughts of inadequacy creep back in
You will be there to remind me of whose I am
I am your daughter, who you love and treasure
The pride you feel for me is beyond all measure.
Once more, dear Lord, my thanks I give you
For your love and your promise that I know is true
Experiencing your love and hearing your voice, I now know
There will never be a time when I am left on my own
You have brought me this far but there’s yet more to do
I pray this uniform I wear opens doors and draws the lost to you
Lord, I am yours so please use me
To do the work of your hands so it’s YOU that people see
You call each person’s name and desire their heart
Meeting them where they are is where your miracles start
You did it for me and I will testify with my story
That you may always be praised and receive all the glory.