Walking away from my old life seemed like a monstrous task. Honestly, I did not think I could change. I did not believe that my past could ever stay my past. I thought that I was too hurt—too damaged—to move forward.
How can someone expect me to believe that anyone could forgive me? God forgives all, they said. God loves us no matter what, they told me. Yet, how could God love me when I did not love myself? I hated who I was. Every day that I tried to change who I had become made me feel like an imposter. I felt that everyone could see that I was just pretending. Somehow I thought that all my past mistakes were written all over my face. And, sometimes, I wished they were. I felt guilty when people trusted me. Every time I was told “Good job” or “you’re soresponsible, ” I wanted to yell DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?
I felt the call to change. I heard His voice screaming in my head every time I caught myself praying. Nonetheless, I found myself fighting it. I wanted to turn back to God, but I was scared. I could not expect Him to forgive me when I could not forgive myself.
On March 27, 2011, the words of Pastor Jeff‘s sermon struck a chord. My eyes welled up. My heart started racing. He was speaking directly to me. I didn’t feel it… I knew it. His words were meant for me to hear, they were exactly what I needed to hear. I had sat in that congregation week after week for several months listening to the call to give one’s life over to God—to recommit to God’s will—and I always sat there looking around at the hands go up, but I never felt like it was right. Yet, on that day,without any thought, I felt my arm go up. My arm stayed up. Those with me may have thought that I made the decision to turn back to God, but if you want to know the truth, I had nothing to do with the decision. He wanted me back. He made that decision. I gave my life up to Him that Sunday. No, I didn’t miraculously become the “World’s Greatest Christian,” but it was the first step of a very long recovery. I believe I am still recovering. I had a lot to move away from and a lot of mistakes to forgive. It will be a continuous process, yet that is what being a follower of Christ does—we must continually strive to improve our walk with Him.
If who I was then and who I am now does not appear differently to the outside observer, then I am doing a horrible job. I know that I am different. I am kinder, less likely to judge (although I still do—I’m working on it), and going to Bible Study actually sounds like fun to me. Honestly, I would rather hang out with my “church friends” than any one else most of the time!
When I catch my reflection in the mirror, I have to stop. I cannot believe who I have become. I am nowhere near perfect and I need to continue going to church and bible study to sharpen my faith, but I am striving. I read the Bible because I WANT to not because it was assigned. I am learning more about myself through this entire process and my entire way of thinking has changed completely. My priorities have shifted and I realize what is actually important in life. God. Love. Family.
I am able to see now that my focus on financial wealth and social status were completely diluted concepts. The importance is not on financial wealth but SPIRITUAL wealth. Happiness. Love. Support.
If I remember to count my blessings every day, from the moment I wake up, I will be able to realize that I am one of the wealthiest people on Earth. I have family that loves and supports me. I have an amazing boyfriend that encourages me daily in my education, spiritual growth, and financial stability. And, he has brought his equally amazing, God-filled family into my life. How many people can say that they have TWO whole families that LOVE them? I am so blessed. We all are. We just need to stop and look around from time to time. Every single thing you see is a miracle in and of itself. God’s hand has touched everything. He has helped form every thing…even our thoughts! He is our Father and even after I turned my back on him for years… He welcomed me back with open arms.
Wow. Imagine if we could all be as forgiving.