I don’t necessarily have a pretty story. And sometimes it’s not one that I’m fond of sharing the details. But sometimes God leads me to that. And I’ve learned to trust that it’s for a reason. Because He has been faithful to use it in other people’s lives. After much wrestling in prayer, I’m confident of which defining moments in my life the Lord wants me to share here. As painful as it is for me to write and as uncomfortable as it may be for some of you to read – I’m opening it up in hopes that some of this seems real to someone else; and that the unfailing, furious love of my Savior can be identified in your life through the broken example of my own.
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I can honestly say that I didn’t have the worst of childhoods, but it wasn’t necessarily the best either. I was always provided for and I always knew I was loved. But growing up around drug and alcohol addiction isn’t easy. I truly didn’t know Jesus was a real person and not just a fictional character in a book. Growing up in this darkness affected everything in my life. As I became a teenager, I was somewhat limited in my sin but like anyone who craves a sinful existence… I was creative.
But there was a friend who was constantly showing the Lord’s love to me. After a while, that seed starting pushing through the soil. I secretly longed to believe that God was different than all the people I could compare Him to and that He wanted to help me.
After admitting all of this in whispers in my bedroom – I started singing the only Christian song I knew, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” In that moment I experienced God’s voice speaking to me for the first time! I begged Him to allow everything else to grow dim in order for His Heart to be revealed to me! And He followed through.
My life changed in every way. I was given a Bible by my parents, who were new, growing Christians themselves. I started reading that Bible like it was going to be taken away from me – I just had to read it all and fast! The Word really started to root itself into my life and it, of course, started to change me.
So, life continued on this way. I made new friends and I went off to a Christian college and lived life for the Lord. Though I grew spiritually, nothing that happened in those first few years were defining in my understanding of the Lord.
In 2006, I lived in Peru for a brief few months. This time was wonderful but also serves as a life altering factor in my relationship with Christ. The men in this village had absolutely no respect for women. Women were used for purposes of their own desire, even the teenagers, even the children. I struggled greatly with this. The last few weeks I spent in Peru, I questioned everything about God’s character, why He would allow such injustice? And why would I want to serve a God who’s in that kind of business? These questions spilled over into my move back to the States. I began to grow deeply sick of the people at my Church and the people at my school. I decided to quit school and move away. I wanted to start over. So, I did. My best friend and I moved to a new city, got a new jobs and new friends.
I believe that the Enemy was greatly at work in my life during this time. He was manifesting greater questions, deeper anger and stronger sorrow beneath the surface. As I was pushing my Christian family away, more and more unsaved people began knocking on the door of my life. I welcomed them with open arms. I finally became so angry with God that I learned to hate Him. Really, deeply loathe Him and everything He was. So, I buried myself. The deeper I buried myself into sin, the higher the chance that I buried His voice. Yes, I still believed IN God. But I no longer believed Him. I no longer believed that He cared, that He knew what was best, any of that. It was all a lie. God was real. That was it.
The next 6 months of my life are somewhat of a blur, and that’s something that I’m thankful for. I threw myself into the deepest, darkest alley of sin’s existence. I passed out quite often due to what I was putting in my body and as a result, suffered extreme sexual abuse. This only served to push me further away from the God who claimed to love me and have a perfect plan for me.
Through a series of events, I decided to move back home to my parents house. 8 hours away from the horrible life that I loved. The first week that I was home, the Lord guided a man named Luke Jones back into my life. A sweet friend, whose presence I enjoyed. During our first reunion, the Lord essentially told Luke, “That woman is gonna be your wife. Fight for her.” And fight he did. Luke prayed and lovingly pushed for nearly 5 months, until the TRUE GOSPEL of the Lord flooded my life again.
Now, I slightly wish that the road from there on out had been easy. But it most certainly was not. It has been 5 years of rock climbing over unbelief, prayerlessness, hatred, jealousy, lust, bitterness and hopelessness. 5 years — since I surrendered my life back into the hands of my Savior and I am JUST NOW gaining back the ground that was lost.
Spurgeon says that if you have shallow sorrows, you’ll receive shallow graces. But if you have deep afflictions you will obtain deeper proof of God’s faithfulness. I can gladly say that I have never had shallow sorrows. My life has consisted of some of the most deep affliction of anyone I know. And I’ve obtained the deepest proof of my sweet Abba’s faithfulness. My King’s hatred for injustice. My Lover’s promise to bind up my broken heart. My Redeemer’s victory. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Just like Jacob, I have wrestled. And I will joyfully walk with a limp for the rest of my days — for I have seen my Lord’s face.