Hi, my name is Tanya Wheeler, and this is my story of how I came to know Jesus. I was born into a Ukraine Christian family, but it was more of a religious traditional way. After my family moved to America, I went to a Ukraine church on a regular basis. It was hard staying at home with my family because of the challenges in the house. My safe runaway place to go and hide away from problems was church and just about anything else that was about God. I would dress with long skirts and covering over my head. I did not fully understand who God was and this was just part of my culture. People would call me holy Tanya, because I acted, performed and dressed as a deeply religious person. I liked to pray, but I did not know what a real relationship with God was.
I only knew about God, but not who He was for me personally. I thought that I had to go through a prophet to hear from God. I remember when I was 16 years old, I got water baptized, and I wanted to serve God with a husband, become a missionary and travel to different places. I thought I was saved because I was born into a Christian family, went to church, read the Bible and prayed. I never heard no one preach or say about the sinner’s prayer.
Before I met Jesus, I felt that I had to earn and do good works to be holy and pleasing to God, to hear Him and to go to Heaven. When I was 18 years old, I wanted to know the truth and what love is. I desired for someone to love me. I needed to know who God was and to hear from Him directly. I had to pray with a prophet or a Pastor to hear from God on what I need to do and make a big decision. It made me sad and confused why I had to depend on someone higher to hear from God. I began to question “why I could not hear Him for myself?” When I went to church, I felt the warmth and presence of His love, but I never experienced my own salvation moment.
After I got married and had two beautiful daughters, and I had begun to encounter more of the Lord. I remember a time when I was searching for something that I knew was missing in my life, missing on the inside of me. I longed for truth, to know who God truly is, and what makes a true Christian life. I wanted someone to love me. I finally had that experience and it truly has changed my life. In 2005 I went to a Russian Church Encounter retreat, where my heart was opened, and I allowed others to serve me. I had kept so many things of pain inside of my hard heart. For all these years without feeling much of anything, until I encountered God and got healed and delivered from rejection and so much pain inside of my heart. I cried like a little child for a long time. I felt like the worse sinner ever. The warm presence of His love created that search in my heart to know more about Jesus, a longing that was now growing.
I remember having my life be okay, but there was a piece of me missing. I knew I needed something more to fill in that void. I experienced a deep desire inside of my heart for more of God and so I went into my room alone shut the door, got on my knees and prayed. I saw myself, a young blonde little girl running to God and Jesus picked me up to Himself. I knew He loved me. My Heavenly Father is always with me and for me and loves me so much. Then we moved to Florida from California.
I never understood what a real relationship with God was until March of 2008yr in Florida, 10 years later. I felt it in my veins, my heart racing with anger and persistence at the same time. It was like I had to pray many hours to hear from God and that I was good enough. This raging time with God where I felt like God must hear me because I spent so much time with Him, and it seemed all for nothing. My emptiness and depression from frustration with God and life drove me into a mindset of suicide. I remember reading Proverbs 3:7, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” After that I heard Joyce Meyer speak on TV, she was talking about the salvation and welcomed us to repeat a prayer after her. I did repeat that prayer for the first time in my life. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I then realized that is the day that I got saved and my life has really changed. I knew what grace and love of God was. I have always longed for a real relationship with God ever since. My spiritual eyes were open, I understood what the gospel and love of God was.
When I talked to my oldest brother about my salvation, he said that he did hear the salvation prayer in church we went to. I thought it Interesting how for 28yrs my eyes were closed to hear about the salvation prayer, until my lowest point God reached out to rescue and to save me. In order to become a Christian, I just prayed, repented and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The salvation was so simple and easy, I did not have to be perfect to receive Jesus into my heart. I can come just as I am, even in my worst condition. He came to save me. He has pursued and chosen me from the beginning of the world to know Him personally.
Before I knew about Him, but now I know him personally and intimately. Now that I have become a Christian, my salvation experience, I am growing more in the knowledge of who God is for me. He answered my biggest question, of what real love is like and that I can hear His voice for myself. I have reached out to a couple women that have lost their faith and they came back to the Lord Jesus Christ. I feel amazing having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I love and enjoy being alone with the Lord, going to church and having fellowship with other believers in home groups. Every day I set aside a quiet and alone time with the Lord to gaze upon Him and experience His love and presence. I hear Him speak inside of my heart and mind. He brings peace and comfort into my whole being to be strong in Him.
When I think about God as my Heavenly Father who is Good, so kind, and such a loving God. I pray and desire for all to know, understand and experience God’s love. I still have some questions. I admit that I still have many struggles with fears, worry’s, anxiety, stress, doubts of life challenging circumstances. But knowing and having God’s love is where I run to every time. The unconditional love of God changes me inside of my heart. I am so aware even more of that because of what I have, and I now know. What is love, and really is that it is safe and pure and right and that relationship with Him just makes me even become more closer to Him in the midst of many trials. I have learned many lessons and I am still in process.
A decade ago, I had a missionary come across the beach where I lived and said that I need to write my story and it is to be told. I wanted to write a book about having a relationship with God. I want to share with many people about God’s unconditional love that changed my life forever. I am not the same, I am a new creation, and I love God even more today. Now I want to write a blog and share about the love of God which is the greatest gift and the story of my life.
I had divorced an abusive man and remarried to an amazing man of God who loves me like Christ loves the church. Our love with each other resembles the love of God. We are in the process of writing our first book together about, “The Power of Choosing Love. Why Broken Pieces fit perfectly together.” Amazing story of God’s redemption work in our marriage. How He is restoring and healing us to help and give hope to many singles wanting to be in a relationship and marriage mentoring.
I have recommitted my life to the Lord many times ever since to serve Him and follow Him. The more I understand who God is, I receive an even deeper inner healing. But now I can look forward to the future because God is putting all my pieces together for His glory. I have graduated from William Jessup University with BA in Business Administration with Project Management concentration. I plan on pursuing my calling to writing books, speaking, teaching, and sharing the love of Jesus with everyone. That is my story.
Tanya Wheeler is a wife, mom, hope writer, prayer warrior and marriage mentors with her husband James Wheeler. Loves Jesus and inspires people to know and experience the love of God. BA Degree in Business Administration.