I’m Rachel Goclawski, I live in Maynard with my husband, Ted and little girls, Lily and Krista. I’ve been an IT Specialist with the US Army for 15 years, and grew up on Long Island. I lost my father to cancer when I was young and my mother turned to the Roman Catholic Church for comfort, but it didn’t seem to help. Growing up I learned to rely on myself to be there for my mom in her anger and sadness, and after they were born, it was instinct for me to protect my little siblings through my mom and stepdad’s constant fights. By the time I was in junior high I began to feel terribly alone and my soul deeply longed for a spiritual connection to someone who knew me, who really knew me. This longing drove my decision-making so by adulthood I had a failed marriage, and failed career dreams. I was very impatient with myself. Why couldn’t I just figure out how to be happy and avoid getting messed up?
By my late 20’s, I had managed to have a successful career, and enjoyed performing in the Boston area music scene. My boyfriend was also in a band, and his band-mates were into the occult. One night, the guitarist’s girlfriend called me, “Come over here, quick, my boyfriend went to Salem and got something. He did something terrible!” I went to her apartment just to humor her. I couldn’t imagine in this day and age that anyone took witchcraft seriously. As soon as I entered the room, however, I felt a sinking dread in the pit of my stomach and the hackles on the back of my neck begin to rise. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the room but when I walked over to the wall and touched it, there was static, and then it was gone. My friend sighed with relief, “Oh, it’s gone now!” But I didn’t feel relief, for some reason I felt grief and pain, like I lost someone I loved.
A few nights later my boyfriend abused me so badly I ended up in the hospital and he in jail. That grief and pain stayed with me through my bout with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and I became angry and clinically depressed. All the musicians around me were into some form of the occult and I tried to protect myself with meditation and mineralogy. At that point in my life I was still totally against anything Christian, but I began to realize that God was reaching out to me. One night I had a terrifying dream. At the end of the dream a voice said, “When you’re walking with the devil you can see no good.” The voice was so real it woke me up.
I joined a new band with a great drummer. He was Christian and didn’t push it on me. In fact, he didn’t talk about his Christianity at all. If he did, I know I would have run away. He had this peace about him that soothed my spirit. He was unassuming, gentle, generous and incredibly patient. I would watch him going about his projects and wonder, how does he do it? I look back on the time when I first met Ted and I am so amazed by the compassion God had for me that he would bring Ted into my life. I’m amazed how well God knew me, knew the exact person who could be a true companion for me, and He knew exactly how long it would take me to see how brightly Ted shone in this dark world.
It took many small steps for me to believe that God exists in the ways the Bible claims. I studied, and reasoned it out. God wants us to make a conscious decision to let the gift of His son Jesus into our life, to accept his salvation, and then we receive the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit.
I didn’t feel anything in particular WHILE I said my conversion prayer, but that night I was hit with such a strong depression and desperation it physically hurt. Thank God Ted was there. He started praying to Jesus over me and I thought, “This is silly, I’m depressed and he’s praying to his god, how will this help?” Suddenly, there was warmth and a golden light and a heaviness was lifted off of me. That was 10 years ago and I have never felt such crushing depression again. Jesus found me and gave me true and everlasting joy, as expressed in the Psalms:
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.” (Psalm 30:11-12 NIV)
Now I’m saved, but I still have a hard time relying on God. In the fast pace of life with young children I unconsciously revert to what I learned early in life, to soldier on and problem solve alone. Despite my forgetfulness, God has continued to show his faithfulness to all my needs. I am grateful that I can rely on God to keep shaping and loving me no matter what.
If you have any questions about my faith story or Jesus, please come talk to me. I’d love to tell you more.