Throughout the stages of my early life, I’ve always believed in Jesus, just as I was taught. I grew up in church. I grew up in a Christian home. I knew every Sundayschool story, I could find a Bible verse quickly, and I was very comfortable with my knowledge of who God is. Throughout my teenage years and my time in college, I tried my best to do right, to check off the boxes I felt like I needed to in order to be a “good person”. I sought after affirmation/acceptance through my own accomplishments and through other people. I was eager to please and thought I was doing a pretty good job.
It wasn’t until my life was shaken apart with a troubled marriage and eventually a decision to divorce, that I grasped what the gospel story is truly about. I couldn’t believe I was in the place I was in, struggling with the thought of divorce. There was so much pain and helplessness during this time. I felt so alone, like God just wasn’t there. My life was not supposed to be like this.
I kept trying to gain affirmation from the Church, from those around me (my friends/family), instead of God and I started making selfish choices that I thought temporarily relieved my pain but that truly reflected my unbelief in God’s power and His character.
My comfortable, controlled life felt just the opposite. Nothing I was doing was making it better. Thankfully, our God works in brokenness and helplessness! After some time, there was a constant battle going on in my heart and my thoughts about who I was as God’s child and what that really meant. God began to help me understand that my dependence on my own strength was so broken and ultimately left me empty. It wasn’t until I fell on my face and said, God, YOU are my only hope. I can’t do this. I am so broken. I can do nothing without YOU. I began to understand what it meant to give up my feeble attempts and lean COMPLETELY on God and his perfect, holy grace.
I felt loved by God, which changed my heart. My failures were not what defined me, my self-worth was not based on anything I did or anyone’s opinions of me, rather, my guilt and shame were washed away by what Christ did on the cross for me, because he is a merciful God who loves me and had chosen me as his own.
He allowed me to fall so that I could understand what dependence on Him, rather than my own abilities, really meant and I am so grateful for this time in my life. I used to be so critical of people who preached constantly about grace and love because I thought; these people just use that as an excuse to do whatever they want because God forgives! God turned this way of thinking completely around. I truly believe that grace comes first for it’s because of His grace, that I am made holy, his beloved child, in spite of my sinfulness, because he loves me that much!
I am still in awe of his love and grace towards me, a person who sins every day. The more I learn about him, the more I desire him as my true hope, the more I want to show others that in spite of my brokenness, in spite of my past choices, he loves unconditionally. That we’re all broken people, in need of Christ. It’s a freedom like no other.
This is a journey for me as it is for every Christ follower. I still struggle with unbelief and distrust; I still struggle with pain and guilt; I still struggle with trying to be in control of my life; but God works, he fights for my heart and thoughts and he reminds me constantly of just how big He is.
God uses EVERY mistake, failure, and blessing to teach me more about Him and what he has done for me. When I dig in the Word, I see new blessings and promises, I see a God who understands our pain and struggle, but offers us hope. I pray that I will never stop learning about his unfathomable love and that He can use me and my story to be a witness for those around me.