Member Interview: Meet Mary Jo

Being introduced is Mary Jo, a member of UCG-NWA who is one of our transcribers, a blogger and unofficial activity planner.

Interviewer:  Tell us something about yourself, Mary Jo.

Mary Jo:  I have three children, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.  I have done many types of work, from staying at home with my children and raising two of my grandchildren, to helping run a small counter top business with my husband (now deceased), to cleaning offices and houses, to helping the elderly and disabled in their homes, to being a substitute teacher.  There were times when I was young that I was a waitress, also.

Interviewer:   What do you think has been the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?

Mary Jo:  I’d have to say there have been a couple of really important lessons.  We are responsible for our own actions regardless of whatever provocation there is or however difficult someone else can be.   Another lesson is to love and cherish your family supported by actions that prove your love to them, because no one will ever love them like you do. Return to “About” Page…

Interviewer:  What has been your biggest trial, and how had God worked it out?

Mary Jo:  My biggest trials have been because I stopped trusting my own instincts and judgment, my own “gut” feelings because I thought I was too young, or not educated enough, or not male.  So many times in my life when something just felt wrong, I thought I had to do it because someone older or better educated or a man said it was right, and, I would think, “Who am I to question them?”   I finally realized that I have to answer to God not to men.  If something goes against my conscience, I don’t need to do it.

Interviewer:   Please explain how you came to be in the Church, and how it has changed your life.

Mary Jo:  My paternal grandmother and my dad came in contact with the Church back in the 1940’s and exposed my mom to it also.  My grandmother and dad died in the early 1960’s and never did more than listen and study the doctrines.  My mom realized she had to do something about what she was learning and came into the church in 1962 and was baptized after sunset right after the Feast of Trumpets in 1962 by Mr. Curtis Cowan in Memphis, Tennessee.   After keeping the Feast of Tabernacles on Jekyll Island in 1963, I didn’t miss or care about Christmas or Easter anymore.  They seemed empty and meaningless.   I was baptized when I was twenty-five years old, but only because I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep attending church if I wasn’t baptized.   I wasn’t committed to God, or to his way, or his laws, and I tried living with one foot in the world; the other in the church.  It doesn’t work.   I left the church in 1993 and walked completely away from it in 1995 because I was confused and I was tired of all the inordinate control that had been exercised over so many people by some… me included.   When I finally realized that I missed God, I wanted to go to church somewhere, I started going to a Baptist church.  Everything was going okay there, but I never did feel the closeness I had felt in the church… then when the Christmas celebrations started to be planned, I knew I couldn’t participate because I knew the pagan origins of Christmas.  My sister had started to go to United and so I called the local minister and eventually came out of a major depression enough to start attending.  Steve Moody in Jackson, Tennessee, baptized me June 3, 2006, and I haven’t looked back.

Being in the church as a child changed my life in so many ways.  We were very poor and Daddy had been an alcoholic, so many people looked down upon us.  The church was the first place that I felt really accepted by so many (not all but many).  We had never really traveled, so getting to go to Jekyll Island was like getting to go to a different world.  Learning about God’s laws and his holy days changed my whole view of the world and religion.

Interviewer:   What is your favorite scripture and why?

Mary Jo: Rom:8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.  I have suffered a lot in my life and still do… everyone does.  This and Rom:8:28 give me hope that all things do work together for good and that our suffering is not in vain.

Interviewer:   What is your best church memory?

Mary Jo: It’s hard to say because there have been so many, but I think one of the best was getting to go camp in the Cherokee Campground on Jekyll Island in 1963 because there were so many other kids there, and I didn’t feel so alone in what I was starting to believe.

Interviewer:  Tell me anything you’d like to have included in your interview.

Mary Jo:  Learning to look forward with hope, instead of back with regrets and pain, is one of the hardest things for me, but the more I’m able to do that… the better my life gets.  I think our senior years can be a vulnerable time and if we aren’t careful, we can try to do the things we think we missed out on.  Learning to let go of the need to punish others and ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made and to accept Christ’s sacrifice to cover the sins of others and ourselves is liberating. Return to “About” Page…

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