When her husband committed suicide in 2012, Jessica Barnum felt partly to blame.
"I was devastated," she confesses. "I had been mean to him. I didn't treat him well. I was always getting onto him about things and yelling at him when those things were not getting done. I was not there for him as a wife and I regret it to this day!
"I blame myself for not seeing the signs and not treating him right like a wife should."
Jessica admits that she was not very nice to anybody in those days.
"I had anger issues," she shares, "I was not a very nice person. I would say what I wanted without thinking how it would come out. I hurt others because of my words. I didn't care who I hurt, though, as long as I got my point across.
"I thought about myself more than others. I was selfish in the sense that if I got what I wanted, then I was happy."
Because of the way she treated others, Jessica, who came from a non-religious family, felt that if there was a God there was no way He could love her.
"Sometimes, I did think about God and thought to myself that if I was good enough, I would get into heaven. I wondered if God even cared about me and if He loved me. I asked myself throughout my life if I was good enough for Him to love me," she shares.
What she did not realize at the time, was that God never expected her to be 'good enough' – and no one ever could be in their own strength. That is why Jesus, who was sinless and perfectly 'good enough' came to earth and lived and died, to take on Himself the imperfections of us all and make us right with God.
Jessica relates how she eventually came to understand that all she had to do was let go of her anger and striving and accept the 'good enoughness' of Jesus.
"I was mad at God for allowing me and our one year old daughter to go through [such grief]," she says, "I was in so much pain."
The Christians in Jessica's life took her under their wing and helped her to understand the free gift of undeserved kindness (grace), healing and forgiveness that God was offering her.
"One night in January 2013, the pain was so unbearable, I couldn't take it anymore!" she remembers, "I got down on my knees and asked God into my life. I wanted Him to help me because I couldn't deal with the pain. I needed His love and His guidance in my life."
God's response to her heartfelt prayer was immediate.
"As I was praying, I felt the Holy Spirit's presence. It was the most incredible feeling ever! I felt the overflowing of peace and God's loving gracious embrace.
"I started to read the Bible and prayed, not only for myself, but for others also."
Jessica says that night has changed her profoundly – and the way she treats others.
"Because of my Lord and Savior, I am alive! My life has changed so much now that I have God. The biggest change would be that I am a better person today than I ever have been, and I am a lot happier.
"God has helped me to treat others with respect and to love others more than myself. He has shown me what to truly focus my attention on.
"Especially after the loss of my late husband, I know that time is truly precious and should not be wasted. I am not scared to go and share the word of Jesus Christ with anybody."
Jessica married again, to a godly man and they are growing in their faith together and raising three beautiful children. "We are so blessed!" she beams.•