So my name is Sharon, and I entitled my story today, God’s favor. So I’m not going to talk to you in a casual conversation and tell you my life. But if ministry calls for it, I will share with you so you don’t have to walk it alone and you don’t have to be in the dark alone.
My story begins with me being from a small place, not too small, not too big, but a small place in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I call it from the sticks of Arkansas, when really it’s the ghetto of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. That’s the real deal. And I grew up in a Christian home, even though my mom was a single parent of 12 children. She was married twice but she became a single parent. So I’ve always known about the Lord. I will not say I was always a Christian. But I grew up in a Christian environment, where it was so many of us and we went to church two times, a lot of times per week. So we was basically the church and I’m sure you can imagine that. So I grew up serving in the church.
I am the first one in my family, my mother’s side of her family, I’m not sure about my father’s side, to attend college and finish. So I’m very thankful for that. And I’m saying that because the favor of the Lord was on my life then and as I go further, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Growing up, it was 10 of us in the home at one time and I think it was by the time I was like nine or 10 years old, we were left with eight in the family and when my mother suffered a nervous breakdown. I became her caregiver, as well as the caregiver for her children that was right there under me. And that was very traumatic at nine years old to do that. But the Lord saw us through all of that, caring for them. But that was a part of my life, where God made me the person that I am, and I believe is the reason that I majored in what I majored. When I went on to college, I majored in special education. I had two siblings who were mentally challenged, not physically, but they were mentally challenged. And at the time, I didn’t know this. I just knew they needed a care that was special from anyone else’s care and so I assisted my mom.
I can remember back as far as six, getting up before anyone else, cleaning up, washing dishes. I didn’t rake the yard, we swept the yard because we were very poor. So we didn’t have a rake, so I swept the yard with the broom. And my mom used to say, “You’re my alarm clock, because I get up with your singing.” She said I would be out singing songs to the Lord. Just sing at six, five, you know, years old. And so that’s my background coming from the sticks of Arkansas and when I graduated from college, I stayed there an additional two years. I started teaching there and I was engaged. I don’t like to use the word “bad,” but it was a bad breakup. It was not abusive. It was just painful, because it hurt two families. So I left Arkansas moving to Dallas, because I thought if I left that would heal what I was feeling inside. And so I began to get myself… But I want to back up because I’m out of order.
I got saved in 1981 on my first teaching assignment. So I graduated from high school in ‘75, started at school in’ 76, and finished in three years. So ‘79 and ‘80 was that year where I was teaching. And this group of people – this is the most important part about my story – this group, this couple, that I just love oh so much, they began to tell me about the Lord. And I would think, Why would they always talk about God? Do they have anything else to talk about? I mean, it was just weird to me, because I wasn’t accustomed to that. But they were Pentecostal and I grew up in a Baptist Church. But I thank God that today that I’m not connected with denominations, and I thank God for that; I’m connected with the Holy Father. But anyway, they witnessed a lot, they witnessed a lot and they kept witnessing to me. So I had a lot of questions because they would tell me things I had never heard. I mean never and it was just fascinating to me. But what I didn’t know was that they were “witnesses.” They were trying to catch a fish, I was just asking questions, you know, and I didn’t know that.
They owned a cleaners. They had a dry cleaning service. I would go there after school, listening to those stories. And one day we were there and this minister came in, that was a dear friend of theirs. So when he walked in, he was just happy to see me and I was happy to see him. I will never forget his name, he was Elder Dewberry and when he came in, he just looked over at me. He said, “Sister Whitehead?” So I said, “Yes.” He said, “Do you want to be saved?” I said, “I do!” It just came out of my mouth. Now, my friends, Dita and John, had asked me several times, but I would say, “Oh, no. I’m not ready. I don’t know. I’m already saved. I don’t understand this thing…” But when he said, it just bubbled up out of my mouth. And he said, “Well, you can be!” and he laid hands on me. And when he laid hands on me, I, oh, God. It was uncontrollable screaming, it was actually screaming. It was not crying. It was screaming. I remember, I’m gonna call it rejoicing, but I was really dancing and jumping around in the cleaners. I experienced a feeling that I never experienced before. I experienced God doing something for me, transforming my life, filling me with His Holy Spirit. I remember that and I will never, ever forget that.
But then I found myself coming to Dallas, meeting my husband, I was in love. Very, very, very much in love, because he brought some things to the table. I could show you this letter I had written to the Lord and he had everything on the letter. He was everything in the letter, except for the main thing, he was not saved. And you know what? I didn’t realize that, because I thought going to church with me was enough. But it wasn’t. When I met my husband, I was living a celibate life. We started engaging with each other and so I got pregnant. So arrogance, arrogance, and pride set in. Because at this Pentecostal church, they were going to drag you through the mud, because you are not… You know, you got pregnant… You are unwed, that just wouldn’t look good. And so I went to him, and I told him, I wanted to get an abortion. He nearly died when I said that. But at that particular time, it really didn’t mean anything to me. I had had one before and it was my senior year in high school. I didn’t know how to handle it. Didn’t want to deal with it.
So now with two abortions, right? In my life. When I look back at it, it was all behind arrogance, and pride, forgetting where you came from, not really knowing who you are, and thinking that this is the answer to what you’ve done. And I don’t call them mistakes for me. I knew, I knew in high school what I was doing. I knew when I got here and met my husband, I knew what I was doing. I don’t call it a mistake. I call it a choice. After that, I was just broken and just hurt. I remember when I came into the knowledge that this meant more to me, and my relationship with the Lord, than it did with my boyfriend, and with the church. It had become all about God. What is God thinking about me? How does God view me? What is He saying when I get down on my knees when I get my Bible to read it? It became very difficult for me to do that. And my boyfriend, husband, whatever, he was just, I mean, he was just happy-go-lucky. It was just no problem to him, seemed like, seemed like.
I remember telling him, only one time, and I was just praying about it. I said, Listen, if I’m good enough to have your children, I am good enough to be your wife. And if you love me, like you say you do, we can get married. Because when I look back, I could see my history from Arkansas, and I didn’t want that for me. I didn’t give him an ultimatum or anything. He, for lack of a better word, I’m just gonna say the Lord moved on his heart. He obliged me, and surprised me one day. He called me and told me to come home, it was an emergency. So I get home, we get in the car, we go downtown, city of Dallas, and we get our marriage license. For me, that’s God’s favor. The Lord covered me. We got married, my pastor married us and I’m thankful for that.
We were married for 31 years. Our marriage suffered a lot of things. It suffered infidelity and at the time I didn’t know, but the Holy Spirit showed it to me, it suffered him suffering from bipolar and I didn’t know. So then that caused physical abuse, at times, in the home with me and my children. And I learned that there were seasons of when he was up, he was up, and you got to enjoy it. Because when a season of that downcast, that gloom came over him, it wasn’t good. It wasn’t good for him and it wasn’t good for anybody around him. But I can say this, and I love to say this too, that the Lord took my lemons and turned them into lemonade. He was an excellent provider. But again, still, he wasn’t saved. He wasn’t a man of God. He pleased me by going to church with me, as he did before we got married, and even during the marriage, he pleased me. And then after I began to start doing ministry work within the church, he would allow me to go take the children, and go and be involved in different things and, and I appreciate that. I thank God for that because my children grew up in the church. But what he knew, from his background and how he grew up, it was similar to mine’s, similar, but he had a mom and dad. They were married, but his father lived another life with another family. They lived in Marietta, Texas, which is two hours from here, two and a half hours outside of Dallas, but he had a family here in Dallas. So our backgrounds were similar, but I didn’t know that because he hid that from me. I started learning things, as the family would share things I would say, “Wow, our backgrounds are very, very similar. But anyway, the Lord turned my lemons into lemonade. We were married for 31 years and it was very, very rocky.
But if I fast forward my story, when my husband had started having strokes, when he started having strokes, we kind of ignored them. Kind of like, Oh, you know, he’ll be okay. Because my husband was a very strong man. But when he started having those strokes, we ignored them and we shouldn’t have done that. My daughter from Houston – We call her our unofficial lawyer. – she handles all of our business. She’s always the one who says, “Oh, yeah, we gotta check that out. Oh, uh-uh, we’re gonna let that go.” So when she found out about it, she came home and she took her father to the doctor. They immediately sent him to the hospital and he was in the hospital four days because the strokes were getting worse. At this point, he started dragging his right leg. Then it went from there, it affected his hand. And so I just, my formal education from Special Education, ministering at the church, ministry with preschool children, it just kicked in for me. Because I was able to witness to my husband. It’s kind of like when a person doesn’t have anything else to do, they kind of calm down and hear other things. Does that make sense? They’ll do that. And I just…He would tell me, he said, “Read to me.” And I’d say, “Read what?” And he’d say, “Read the word. Read the word. So I would just read. I’d say, “What do you want me to read?” He’d say, “Oh, go in John. Oh, go in Mark. Oh, go over here.” And I would just read and read and read. And I would pray with him.
I remember one day, we had worship service. It was my daughter, my youngest daughter, he, and I because she loves the ministry. She loves it. So we were sitting there and he called her, he had excused himself, he went to the restroom, and so he called her. She said, “Mommy, come here. Come here.” And before I could get up, I just started praying. I couldn’t get up because I’m thinking to myself, Okay, so he’s really had a big stroke now. So when I finally went back there, tears were just flowing, flowing out of him. Just, he was shaking and everything. He just kept saying, “That man is real.” That’s what he would call God. He said, The Man is real. So I said, “What man?”, because I really didn’t know what he was talking about. He said, “The Man.” So then it dawned on me, he was talking about God. He was shaking his head, he actually couldn’t get a word out. His lips were trembling, and he was crying and he said, “He’s real.” And he was telling my daughter before I got in, he said, “Don’t call your mom.” He said, “Don’t tell your mom because she’ll know. She’ll know. And so when I finally got in there and I see, when I finally got in there, and we were talking, I said, “Lee, it’s a visitation from the Lord.” I said, “It is a visitation from the Lord, and try as you will, you cannot control it.” I said, “All I can tell you is surrender. Just surrender to the Lord.” So I was praying and we were rejoicing, and when we tried to come back to the table, we could not do it. Because it was like the Spirit of God was just in the room, just engulfed in the room and so we sat there for a long time. From that day, until the day that my husband died, he was never the same. He was never the same man that I knew, all those years, I had lived with him.
After that day, I began to witness to him even more. I remember telling him one day, I said, “Have you ever accepted the Lord as your personal Lord and Savior, Lee?” I said, “it’s so simple.” And then he said, “Well,” he said, “I believe I have.” I said, “Do you remember how?” He said, “Nooo, I just remember getting baptized.” I said, “Yeah, I did too.” I said, “but you know, it’s more than being baptized?” I don’t remember him saying, “I accept the Lord as my personal Savior” that particular day, but I do remember, when it was all said and done, he said, “God loves His children.” He said, “God loves His children.” Arrogant, my husband was very, very, arrogant; it’s kind of like a stubborn child. I won’t do…I know to do it, but I’m not gonna do it just because you want me to do it. I kind of assessed it to be that. But the Lord let me know that there were many times, before I had to leave the preschool and come and take care of him full time, that He and Lee had conversations in this house.
As my husband began to decrease in his health. I remember us playing one day, and I was just having so much fun that day. And I said, I looked over at him, and I said, “Husband, are you happy to be at home?,” I won’t tell you the words he used, but he was joyfully happy to be in his home with his family, and knowing most of all, that God had forgiven him. Because we talked about that a lot too – forgiveness. We talked about him being down, and how excited I was to take care of him because he was the love of my life, he was my children’s father, and he was the Father’s son. And so many things happened.
One day, I was lotioning him down. And he couldn’t bathe along. So I was lotioning him down. I took care of him like, really a little baby. I got down to his feet and it was a day I wasn’t feeling my best, kind of angry with him. I got to his feet and the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Do it as unto Me.” And I fell on my husband’s feet and I was crying and crying. And the Lord told me, He said, “I want you to let him feel love before he leaves this earth.” Now that was painful because I knew God was saying some things to me that I didn’t want to hear. But all, it took all of that for me to sit here and say, the favor of God on my life. Going through those abortions, suffering infidelity in my marriage, and all I wanted to be was just be married, have a family, be that good wife, love on my husband. That’s all I wanted and I felt betrayed. Because it seemed like that’s not what he wanted. But when I found out his history, that’s all he knew. But it did, it took all of that for me to sit here and call part of my story, God’s favor.
His favor of being a little girl from the ghetto of Arkansas, being that little girl from the sticks, being that little girl that God raised up, arrogant, bully, all of it. He said, well, I’m going to let her go to college and when she comes out I’m gonna bless her, all of that. That’s why I say God’s favor, unconditional love, unconditional favor that He has on us, when others make us feel that we’re nothing because of things, situations, that come in life. I now have so much love and compassion for people and I am especially drawn to the lesser vessel, because I know how they feel. I know how it feels. And I used to be ashamed, but not anymore. Because God has shown me His favor in my life.