Finding Shalom

The inner peace only Jesus can give.

by Candy Mayer as told to Muriel Larson

“We’re going to take you to a psychiatrist,” my parents told me. “Maybe he can help you.”

“But everyone will think I’m crazy,” I protested.

“Well, we’ve got to do something, honey,” my dad said. “We’ve tried everything else.”

I had always been nervous. When I was small, my parents took me to a child psychologist. In my early teens, they took me to a hypno-therapist. More recently, Daddy put me on medication to help my nerves, but nothing really helped.

Depression

I always had felt lonely and unhappy. Sometimes I felt as though I were living in hell. I never got a full night’s sleep and often had awful nightmares. I thought of killing myself, but feared death.

How I longed to talk more to my parents about my depression! But both were busy with their professions. A series of housekeepers cared for my two older sisters and me as we grew up. Not until Eleanor came along, when I was 13, did I find someone to talk to.

Caring housekeeper

Eleanor Stoppe was different: She always bubbled. After a while, I went to her with my problems. Sometimes she invited my sisters and me to her house to eat. What a warm, pleasant place it was! I always felt tense at our house, but at Eleanor’s I felt at ease.

When I was 16, Eleanor took me to a Christian youth rally. A line in a song, “Lord, make me whole,” made a special impression on me. Was being “whole” what made the difference between Eleanor and me and our families?

Jewish roots

My parents are Jewish, but, like many Jews, they were agnostics. Though they went to synagogue only two or three times a year, they made certain my sisters and I went for religious training every Saturday at the Reformed Synagogue. I later dropped out of these classes and became interested in art.

Now I realized that even though I had been religious, I had never known the peace and joy Eleanor experienced in Jesus Christ.

Close call

Not long after the rally, all my family went to a benefit dance. But I didn’t go. “I don’t want to leave you alone,” Mother said. “Whom would you like to have over?”

I opted to go to Eleanor’s house, and Mother agreed.

Eleanor picked me up the next afternoon. As she drove toward a shopping center, two cars suddenly careened toward us. Eleanor swerved, just missing the cars.

My heart pounded wildly. “Wow, that was close!”

Talking about death

We started talking about death. “If I had died just then,” Eleanor said, “I know I would live in eternity with the Lord one day because I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior.”

I didn’t understand that kind of talk. Nor did I understand her quiet confidence.

We didn’t shop that day; we just talked. And when we returned to Eleanor’s house, we kept talking.

Spiritual discussion

Eleanor’s husband and sons came home from a church ball game, sat down in the kitchen, and talked with us. Here I am a Jew, I thought, yet these people know God better than I do!

Mr. Stoppe brought out a Bible and showed me verses that said all have sinned and that Jesus died for our sins. He also explained what it meant to believe in Jesus.

When the Stoppes’ sons went to bed, we kept talking about God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. I later learned the boys were praying for me in their rooms.

“I want to believe!” I finally cried. “But I’m a Jew. A person is either a Jew or a Gentile. If I accept your religion, I’ll be a traitor and outcast to my people!” Somehow I could not take that step, though I wanted so much what the Stoppe family had.

Seeing Jesus

Around 2 a.m. I sat alone in the room and felt compelled to look up. I saw Jesus Christ — yes, I actually saw Him!* He was reaching out His hand to me. And oh, what compassion and love I felt!

“Take My hand,” He said. “Believe in Me. I’ll replace your miserable life with a new one and give you peace.”

“Eleanor, I believe!” I cried.

Eleanor ran in. “What did you say?”

“I believe!” I repeated.

“Well, praise the Lord!” she exclaimed.

Finding happiness

The heavy burden was lifted from my heart. For the first time in my life, I felt happy. Eleanor asked me to pray, and to my amazement, I knew God and could pray to Him.

“I have been praying for your salvation for several years now,” Eleanor told me.

When Mr. Stoppe came back and saw me, he knew what had happened.

Although I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag that night, I had my first peaceful sleep.

Breaking the news

When I went home the next day, I didn’t know how to tell my parents. Mother just looked at me strangely. “You look different. What happened to you?”

“I’ve found something, Mom,” I replied. “I’m a Christian now. I believe in Jesus Christ!”

To my surprise, my parents took the news well. I guess they were just glad to see me happy and peaceful at last. Even the psychiatrist thought it was a good thing. I told him Jesus Christ changed me.

Baptism

Right away I started attending church with the Stoppes. The services were new and strange to me, but I still made public my commitment to Christ. I wanted to be baptized, but hesitated. If I carried through with baptism, my family would really know I was a Christian. Would they reject me?

I finally decided to take my open stand for Jesus Christ and was baptized. My family, being broad-minded, did not reject me as I had feared.

Peace

I always had been a self-centered person, but now as a Christian, I began thinking of others. Eventually, God led me to attend a Christian university, where I grew in my faith and learned more of the Bible.

A favorite greeting of Jewish people is “Shalom” (peace), but people really don’t know what it means until they come to know the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Thank God, I know what it means at last. I have the peace I desperately desired for so many years!

* Author’s note: Several other Jewish Christians I have interviewed told me of remarkable experiences similar to Candy’s just before they yielded to Jesus Christ.