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Diane Zimerman

From invisibility to unspeakable love

Diane Zimmerman first shared this, her life’s story, as a speech at a women’s Stonecroft luncheon on Manitoulin Island in January 2015. 

This is my story. How do I tell my life story in a short post? I’ll start at the beginning…

My mom and dad immigrated to Canada from a small village in Italy. They came with my three sisters – the eldest is 18 years older than me, my second sister is 12 years older, and finally for my third sister the gap is considerably shorter: just 4 years.

My little Italian family came here to work, make money, build their homes in Italy and move back. My parents were instructed to work hard and make money – that this was their opportunity to make a life for themselves. They came from post war depression. They were told not to have any more kids! More kids would be an expense which they could not afford and that would hold them back. Ironically this type of thinking still exists…

When my mom was 40 and pre-menopausal she began to feel unwell. She visited her doctor just before he went away on a vacation. By the time the doctor got back, my mom found out she was five months pregnant! Remember, it was not in their plans to have any more children… I can only imagine how panicked she must have been. She sought to get an abortion, however she was too far along in her pregnancy and the procedure could not be done. The baby she sought to abort was me.

In retrospect I see that God always had a plan for me. That He has a plan for us all. A verse that comforts me is Jeremiah 1:4-5: “before I formed you in the womb I knew you! Before you were born I sanctified you! I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” So although it wasn’t in my parents plan to have another child, God was working His own plans out through them.

Those are the facts, now allow me to share my journey:

I was always introduced in this way, “this is the one we found in Canada, you know… the accident.”

My name is Diane and I am OCD. Some of you may be thinking… isn’t that obsessive compulsive disorder? You are absolutely right! I am here today to talk to you about my OCD which is: Out of Control Diane! I have never really owned my life. It has been ruled over, controlled by, managed with, bossed around, pushed down, constantly corrected and rejected by my siblings, my mother, my friends, my husband, my children, my bosses and probably many others not mentioned!

I was completely out of control of my own life. I had no say in it, I was absent of myself and desperately miserable!! I listened to everyone and did not know who I was. I did not know what my own voice wanted to say. I was OCD – Out of Control Diane! An empty shell, void, invisible at times. I knew I needed to find who I was inside this body.

Rewind many years. At about age five I remember being invited to the home of the lady next door. Important to this story is the fact that my parents did not or allow us to associate with anyone but Italians. Our neighbour was not Italian, but my parents allowed me to go –coincidence?  I think not.

I remember knocking on her door and sitting on floor in her living room with other children. We would listen to stories with people and animals cut out of felt which we were told to place on boards. The stories she told I did not understand. But of course as a guest I knew I must listen attentively even though I didn’t understand – she was speaking English after all. After the stories I remember us going into the dining room and eating homemade cookies with a glass of milk. We were all then presented with “The Children ‘s Living Bible”; I still have mine.

I believe these were the first seeds planted in my heart for the work God was going to do in my life! I always “knew of” God, but I did not “know” God.

Throughout my life I’ve always had a feeling like I needed more – thus began my journey to find God. Through a trusted friend’s introduction to a pastor I gave my heart to Jesus. The void in my heart and life was finally filled and a healing process had begun.

Last winter for six weeks I went to Italy. There was some business I had to do and I promised my mom I would go see her. When she saw me and my kids her face lit up. Whilst I was there we would sit together in her room for hours – just enjoying each other’s company; it was a happy time for my mom, my children and me…

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You see, those many years ago my mom had not physically aborted me, but she had mentally aborted me. But I had forgiven her. On my last day in Italy my mom and I prayed together. What an amazing gift that my family and I were able to spend the last six weeks of my mother’s life together. Two weeks later my mom went to be with Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you, NOT to harm you but to prosper you. – plans for a Hope and a future.”

For some time now, God has been asking me to be … OCD. What!? God wants me to be Out of Control Diane??? YES. Let go… Let God. God is asking me to let go of my control and give it to Him. I don’t know all what God has in store for me; and that’s ok.

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all you do and he will direct your path.”

~ Diane Zimmerman

Diane lives with her husband of 25 years and two children on Manitoulin Island. She runs a specialty gift and gourmet shop there, where customers often turn into visitors.

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