Two years ago, I read an amazing blog post by a writer I’d never heard of, Jami Amerine. I emailed her to ask if I could re-publish it here on For Every Mom, and in response to my email, Jami CALLED me. Do you know how many writers have called me on the phone about their content in the three years I’ve been in this job? One. From that phone conversation on I knew that Jami was something special and different.
As Providence would have it, I was able to meet Jami face-to-face just about a month later at a writers’ conference. There, my suspicions about her were confirmed. She was a funny straight-talkin’ mama with an amazing story to tell. Little did I know though, that our meeting would have a profound impact on Jami’s life. A conversation that we had with one of my coworkers and friends gave Jami an epiphany that led to the writing of her recent book, Stolen Jesus.
You see before I met Jami she had been on a lifelong search for Jesus. She had not found him in the Mormon church in which she was raised as a young child, nor in the Assemblies of God church into which she was baptized, nor in the Catholic Church that she attended faithfully every single morning with her family as a young mom and wife. Jami met lots of versions of Jesus— she has names for them like “Mormon Jesus,” “Fifth-grade Jesus,” “High school Jesus,” and “Scare-me-up Jesus,” but she hadn’t met the real Jesus. Despite being disappointed by religious people and churches time after time, Jami kept searching. In her heart she knew she had a Jesus-shaped void. She just wasn’t sure how to fill it.
One day after an illness had kept Jami in hospitals or in bed for about a month and she was finally well enough to drive, she set out on her own to Walmart to get some groceries. The steroids she’d been on during her illness had left her bloated, and so all she could find to wear that fit was a long bohemian skirt. She pulled that skirt on, went to the Starbucks drive-through and prepared to experience the joy that every mom feels when they’re grocery shopping without their kids— six kids in Jami’s case.
Unfortunately, thanks to that bohemian skirt and a wayward grocery shopping cart wheel, Jami’s trip to Walmart did not turn out as planned. As she wheeled her way through the grocery aisles, she tripped over something. What happened next, she said, led her to the mother of all tantrums:
“I look down and to my profound shock see my skirt intwined in the shopping cart wheel. It was completely off my body.
When I say ‘completely off my body’ I mean the only thing that kept the skirt associated to me was one of my flip-flopped feet that was still in the waistband on the floor. The rest of the skirt was totally twisted into a ball around the basket’s wheel.
There I stood in a T-shirt and my Hanes Her Way yellow cotton briefs. I couldn’t bend over. I couldn’t look behind me or in front of me. I was half naked in Walmart. The stuff nightmares are made of was now my full reality. I casually squatted to try and untangle my skirt. I heard a burst of laughter and then what sounded like an iPhone camera click. I tugged and pulled. I could not get the skirt undone. I stood up and braced one foot on the basket and pulled as hard as I could. The material ripped, the basket bucked, and my coffee went flying into the air and exploded onto my white T-shirt. With the skirt mangled and torn, I slipped it back on, grabbed my purse, and ran.”
It may seem like a silly thing, but for Jami, this was the last straw. How could the Jesus she’d been searching for and trying to so hard to please leave her standing half-naked in Walmart, the subject of ridicule? She ran to her car where she threw “the mother of all fits” and she says, “broke up with Jesus” for good.
But here’s the thing about Jesus. He was unwilling to break up with Jami. Try as she might to be done with Him, to have nothing more to do with Him, she could not get away from His relentless love. Not long after the half-naked in Walmart incident, Jesus used Jami’s best friend, a friend who had not been a Christian for most of their friendship, to lead her back to Him, and to help her find the real Jesus.
And here’s the really, really important part of Jami’s story, the thing that made being half-naked in Walmart all worth it: her friend found Jesus by simply studying God’s Word. By joining a study and reading the Bible cover to cover. And once it changed her life, she implored her best friend to do the same: to really search for Jesus—the real Jesus—in God’s Word.
What happened next Jami says, is miraculous; over 40 years of fruitless searching and being hurt by religious people came undone.
“Somewhere in the fog of what I had created Him to be, the Real Jesus’ character was busting through the lies and making a grand entrance in my life.”
I won’t tell you the rest of Jami’s story. I’ll leave you to read that in her book Stolen Jesus, and it will make you laugh, and cry, and give thanks. But I will tell you that since that first time, she has never ended up in half-naked in Walmart again.
If you never read another word about her though, I want you to understand this truth: Jami found Jesus, as I said, not in a church, a religion, or a pastor, but in God’s Word. There are so many places we can look when we are searching for Christ but God’s Word is truly the most trustworthy place where we will find Him. What a gift He left us here on earth! If you are searching for the real Jesus I pray that you will start there today.
For more, check out Jami’s new book, Stolen Jesus, available on Amazon.