“If we have any other idol than Jesus, it will devour us. Only Jesus gives. Everything else takes.”
Linda Chowdry knows this truth because she’s lived it. She followed hard after a lifestyle she thought would bring her freedom and joy. In fact, the only One who offered what she was looking for was pursuing her.
From security to shame
Born in the post-war Baby Boom years, Linda’s early childhood was, in her words, “blissful.” She was loved and secure.
But as she got older, alcohol became more of a presence in her home and she began stealing liquor from her parents by the time she was a freshman in high school.
“I was experiencing feelings of anger and rebellion,” Linda shares. “Alcohol took the edge off. I felt free.”
Her drinking continued through her high school years and into college, where she met the man who became her first husband. Together, they had two daughters, but soon discovered the girls—and their drinking—were all they had in common. The marriage ended.
“I was a single mom free to live however I wanted to. And I did. There was a lot of alcohol and a lot of relationships. And a lot of shame and regret.”
A miracle in the making
Several years later, Linda married her second husband. A successful and hardworking businessman, the couple’s wealth grew and they lived a lifestyle to match.
After giving birth to a son, conceived through in vitro fertilization, Linda was thrilled to discover she was pregnant again. An ultrasound, however, revealed this baby had Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder that meant if she survived to birth, she would very likely pass away soon after.
“This crisis drove us to our knees,” she recalls. “We called everyone we knew and asked for prayer. And God granted us a miracle—our daughter was born completely healthy. We were in awe. But it didn’t take long and we were right back to our very wild lifestyle.”
Then life turned upside down.
Linda found herself a widow when a plane crash claimed her husband’s life. Her son was 12, her daughter 9, and the family was devastated. As they figured out this “new normal,” some things didn’t change. “I ended up living the life of the merry widow. I spent lavishly. I continued to drink. I gave away money for prestige—so people would notice me.”
At the age of 58, she became severely manic. As a result, she lost custody of her children. She had an inappropriate relationship. And she ended up in the psych ward of a local hospital where she was diagnosed as bi-polar. As she came down from the mania, she sunk into a deep depression.
“The only place I found safety and rest was on the floor before Jesus,” Linda says. “I finally turned my life over to Him. I was free. And through His love, the love of my family, therapy, good medication, I was completely healed.”
The grace of giving
The drinking stopped as her mind cleared. She regained custody of her children and slowly earned their trust back. And as Linda’s faith grew, so did a passion for giving.
Sometimes that looks like regular gifts to ministries. Other times it’s a larger step of obedience. When Linda recently sold her home, she also chose to auction off a large part of her art collection to fund larger gifts.
“God so beautifully and visibly poured grace into my life. He lifted me out of shame and guilt and restored the lost years. I want to serve His Kingdom through giving.”