An AMAZING testimony by Jody Branderhorst Wood:
I was born and raised in a Christian home by parents who sacrificed to give me a Christian education, take me to church every Sunday (even when gone on vacations), have devotions with me at every evening meal and any other thing that I could be involved with the church. I was baptized as an infant and made profession of faith when I was between 12-14, but by no means was I truly saved. I think I thought I was okay. I knew I did bad things, but eventually when I “grew up” I’d become like my parents.
At the age of 13 is when I started my slow trend towards utter defiance towards God. I gave my virginity at this age. I knew that sex was to be within the bounds of marriage, but I justified it to myself that I loved this “man”, and it was ok because I was eventually going to marry him. I was also very deceived that if I gave myself to someone, marriage would eventually follow and that the “man” would stay with me because I was giving him what every man wants from a “woman”.
I didn’t get into a whole lot of trouble during my junior high and high school years, but I believe it’s because God protected me from the temptations at that time. I did continue to have sex with some of my boyfriends, I would drink if given the opportunity, and I smoked pot for the first time during my high school years.
It wasn’t until after I graduated that I really started to decline. Being 18 I had more freedom, and I was also making connections with people who readily supplied me with alcohol, weed, and an occasional dabble with LSD and Ritalin. I drove while intoxicated with no thought to others or myself. I lived for myself and for my pleasures.
Around the time of my graduation, I met the man who was to become my husband, Josh Wood. We were bad together, by this I mean we both loved to party. I think it was 1998 when we became engaged, but as our wedding day approached, I was flirted with by another male while at a bar and decided I wasn’t ready for marriage, so I postponed the wedding. Josh and I stayed together, and around December of that year, I found out that I was pregnant. We were married on March 6, 1999. Through all this time I was still partying, not as much while pregnant, but I didn’t give up everything completely, namely weed.
Our son was born in September of 1999. Josh and I worked 3rd shift together and kept to our partying ways. We would go through spurts of trying to go to church every Sunday and try to “clean up our act”, but it never lasted.
After our first anniversary, I left Josh due to the fact that I had a couple of other relationships with other men. I blamed Josh for my needing these other relationships. We did try counseling at a Christian Counseling Center, but the counselor actually sided with me. He even told me I should fight for custody and leave the state because Josh was dangerous.
During this time, Josh and I hated each other. Before we had gotten the courts involved, I tried to dictate when he could see our son. On one occasion I told Josh to have him back later, and he walked away and told me he’d see me after the weekend. I tackled Josh, who then called the cops, and I was taken to jail for domestic violence. I hated Josh so much during this time that we wouldn’t even communicate with each other directly. I thought many times about how life would be so much better if he were dead. I even asked around, plotting to have an “accident” happen to him.
While we were separated, I continued in adultery, by now with a different man, and I still liked to drink, but I mostly liked to get high. I even liked getting high so much, that I showed up at my trial for domestic violence, pled guilty to avoid Josh, and when asked by the judge if I would drop dirty had to answer yes. I was sent immediately to jail. I had to stay there until I could drop clean and was then put on probation. That didn’t stop me from smoking. I would just buy some “cleansing” products that helped me to drop clean.
As the time for our divorce to become final drew near, I began to think of how my life would be. I would be working in the factory because I loved my job; maybe I would own a trailer in Hudsonville, and hey, maybe Josh could come over for dinner sometime so our son could feel like a family. What?! That didn’t make sense. We couldn’t even tolerate each other. I decided to tell Josh that I wanted us to get counseling again, so we could at least get along for our kid’s sake. He agreed and set up an appointment for us with a pastor at a church.
I still remember that night very clearly. The pastor told us to come to the service, and he’d meet us after for counseling. We went and sat through the service, and afterward my nephews and niece (from Josh’s family) came running up to me with open arms exclaiming “Aunt Jody!” I was so surprised by this reaction. They should be shunning me. We then met with the pastor, and he plainly told us that he would not counsel us to be friends, that divorce was unbiblical. God cut me right to the heart that night. He turned my heart of stone to a heart of flesh. I bawled because I knew it was truth, and it felt so good to know that truth. When I say “know that truth”, I always knew it was what the Bible said, but now it was real in my heart. No more excuses for my sins. Josh and I went to Perkins after that meeting and had pie. We sat on the same side of the booth with our arms around each other, back together. The next day, I called my lawyer and called off the divorce, 2 weeks before it was to be final!
I began living for the Lord. I read, and studied and became involved with my new family, the body of Christ. I was baptized as a believer on May 26, 2002. Since then, God has blessed me with 4 more kids and a husband who loves me, despite all of my ugliness, past and present!
It hasn’t always been easy, but that shows me that God isn’t giving up on me and is continuing to conform me to His image. I hope that my testimony will not give anyone cause to sin, but that God would be glorified. It’s only by His grace, His sacrifice on the cross, that I am saved, clearly nothing I have done! Praise be to Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord!