She raised her hand in a group of youth years ago and was “officially” saved. She would be baptized a few years later. They told her that she had to follow a bunch of rules. She kept up with them for a while, pointing out and praying for everyone around her who did not follow the same rules. Then one by one she started breaking the rules. One by one, God’s laws that she promised she would keep would get broken. She was empty.
She met a man, got married, had kids, a house. She was empty.
Hours upon hours she would think about all that she had done wrong, all that she was not. She was empty, her soul was empty. She tried to cover it with what the world was selling. She used to go to church and believed that God could never love her. She believed she had broken God’s heart with sin. She wanted to seek him but how could he love her? She was empty.
She lied when they said, “did you ever think about dying?”. Not only to them, but to herself. She wondered if she had the spirit of suicide in her, like her earthly father did. The father who wanted her erased from his life, the father who never wanted her, the father who called her a mistake. The father she does not remember seeing face to face. She was empty.
Everyday it took all she had to meet the basic needs of her children. She would lay in bed, “ten more minutes” she would say. Ten minutes turned into hours, hours turned into entire days. She knew she failed again, another wasted day. She was empty.
She tried to get better, tried to get on her feet. She saw a counselor, got a divorce, went to nursing school. She met a new man and thought, this is it! I’ve figured it out, I’m HAPPY!! She did every thing that the world told her would make her life better. Really, she just traded one set of problems for another. It was not long before, again, she was empty.
Sure, she went to church with a mask on. Make-up- check, hair-check, shoes/outfit-check, these things were very important at church, especially during communion Sunday when everyone is going to see you for sure. She rolled her eyes at al the sinners around her. She prayed for this, she prayed for that, never really believing that her prayers were being heard. She was empty.
You see, this woman had heard of God’s love but had never received God’s grace. Not because no one told her about it, but because she didn’t think she deserved it. She never believed she was worth it. After all, she broke God’s heart. She went to places she never thought she would go. She didn’t deserve God’s grace, and she would not give grace to anyone who ever hurt her. The woman heard God’s word, and Christ followers tried to tell her God loved her no matter what. She believed it for everyone except herself. She could now add divorce to her list of sins. Over and over she heard that God hates divorce. In her heart , God hated her. She was empty.
She sat in church one Sunday, there was a message about divorce. She sat there and wished she would have known what the sermon was about, she would have stayed home. After all, she already knew she was a disappointment to God. As she listened to the sermon, her heart began to soften. The holy spirit spoke to her heart as the pastor told the truth, the whole truth. That even divorced people are God’s people. That God does not leave us or forsake us EVER. She knew the difference between conviction and condemnation that Sunday. She was loved.
I have been thinking about writing this blog for a while. I couldn’t get the words to come until I started writing it in the third person. The person in the beginning of the story does not feel like me at all. It was painful remembering what it was like not feeling worthy of the cross. I truly am a new creature in Christ. The old is gone. The sermon about divorce was the beginning of healing. Since then, I have held Christ’s hand and gone back to my past and healed old wounds. My older girls and I jokingly call the dark moments of my time lying in bed the “great depression”, although looking back there was nothing funny about it.
Through Jesus I live with boldness and courage. He has called me to lead middle school aged children and has even sent me to Africa on a couple of mission trips. He has broken my heart for what breaks His and filled my mouth with words to bless people at exactly the right time. In HIS perfect will is where I find peace.
I wish I could tell you that depression and anxiety never press in. When I try to be a people pleaser or buy what the world is selling, I can feel it. I feel the old lies…”you will never be enough”, “God can’t love someone like you”, ect. I fight it with the truth. God calls me chosen, he calls me HIS. He will never leave or forsake me….even when I get it all wrong. Jesus died for me too! Please know that I do get it all wrong more than I would like to admit. The difference is that I now know truth! I know that HE loves me no matter what. There is nothing I can do to make HIM love me more. I am HIS daughter. I fill myself with those truths each and every day.
The interesting thing about this journey was that I now realize that God was there all along. He was there at my darkest and there when the sun was shining the brightest. He gave me a mother who made her mind up that she was going to love me. He has reminded me of my uncles who showed up when they didn’t have to when I was a little girl. I had grandparents who loved me with every bit of their heart. He gave me a step father at exactly the right time. He gave me children, brothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends that love me. Oh, and an amazing husband who I am certain I fascinate in more ways than anyone could imagine.
This has been an incredible journey with Jesus. My hope is that maybe someone will read this and at the very least remember the beginning of their transformation; at the most experience the holy spirit and know that they know that they know that no matter what, they belong to God.