The blue velvety interior of the car did not seem as soft that day. The sun was shining bright outside, but inside me there was a dark cloud. Numb, I looked out the window with eyes vacant and empty. Fresh memories of screaming from pain and uncontrollable tears flooded my mind. This car ride of one and half hours would feel like an eternity. All I wanted was for my life to go "back to normal". All I wanted was to finish college, get married and live the dream. Why did this have to happen to me? Why did I have to get pregnant? Miserable. Full of despair. Hopeless. I thought this trip would give me my dream. I thought this decision would be the answer. Instead, it gave me an unexpected nightmare of grief, loss, depression, guilt, shame, and unshakable feelings of unworthiness. Bondage. A part of me was ripped from me that day. A part of me died that day. I would find Jesus to be the only one who could mend the endless hole. Jesus would be the only one who could restore my life......
I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and savior when I was 4 years old. I remember that day. It was real and I loved Jesus. I lived for the Lord until my teenage years, then I started drifting away. The drifting turned into a falling until I was living a lifestyle of full-fledged sin with no evidence of my Christian foundation. By the time I entered college, I couldn't stand who I had become, but I didn't want to stop the sinful lifestyle. I found comfort in a bottle that dimmed the pain of reality. I made countless bad decisions that cluttered my heart with regret. My relationship with Jesus was all but a past memory. Part of me still longed to know Him again, but not enough to exchange my lifestyle of sin for a life full of His glory. (Looking back, I don't understand why anyone wouldn't make that exchange!)
My life was one debris pile of bad decisions, and then at age 19, I found out I was pregnant. With my heart stone-hard with sin, I made a decision that would cast a dark shadow for years and forever affect my life. I made the decision to have an abortion.
Instead of waking up to the destructive patterns in my life, I invited more destruction. Every day when I woke up for over a year, I was tormented by the choice I made. EVERYDAY. I fell into depression and chose to drink excessively in an attempt to cover the hurt only the blood of Jesus could cover. I felt unworthy of love so I settled for cheap counterfeits. The more I attempted to dull the hurt, the more I hurt, so I attempted to dull the hurt more. It was a vicious cycle that would have led to death had I continued.
However, during that time, the Lord never forgot me. He was there, grieving over my sin. He was there waiting for the little girl who use to walk with Him to come back to Him. He was waiting there with arms open with love to be my Comforter and Restorer.
Two years after the abortion, I hit my rock bottom. I woke up and I couldn't stand the person I had become. Where was the sweet girl who use to be in love with Jesus? That pivotal Sunday morning, I literally ran from church to church crying. It was past "church time" and it was finals week, so I had difficulty finding someone who would talk to me. I needed someone to help me out of my vicious cycle. I needed God. Someone did talk to me that day. A sweet college girl took time out of studying for her finals to talk to me. I wish I could remember her name. God helped me that day. I didn't completely give my life over to Christ that day, but He did help me stop the destructive patterns. It was two weeks after that morning that God brought Chris, my husband, into my life. He used Chris to demonstrate His love to a girl who felt unworthy of anyone's love.
In 1998, Chris and I got married and about two months later made a decision to completely turn our backs on our old lives and rededicate our lives to Christ. I began attending church again for the first time since high school. However, I felt like no one could ever know of the sinful lifestyle of my past, especially about the abortion. I really thought I was the only one who had a clouded past and everyone else in church had always lived for the Lord. I know it sounds crazy, but that is how I felt. I was a Christian locked in a prison of shame. I felt unworthy to be around other Christians. I felt like I had a scarlet A written across my forehead. Satan lies and tries to tell us we are the only one, we cannot tell anyone. "Keep it a secret. You can't tell anyone. What will they think?" However, God says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
God started chiseling away and began reconstruction on me right away! A friend, Jill (love her!), invited me to a bible study. She was a living picture of His grace and love. Through the Word of God and the love of other believers, God began to show me His grace, mercy and forgiveness. He began to show me who He was and who I was.
My heart longed to be like the other Christians I saw at my church. They seemed to have it all together. I wanted to really know Jesus like they knew Jesus, I wanted a peaceful countenance and confidence. I wanted healing. I wanted freedom. My self-image was torn down to where it matched the pile of debris left by my strain of poor choices. It took years of renewing my mind through His Word to increase my self-image to where it should be, which is that of a child of a King, because I am.
Though my sins were as scarlet, He has made me white as snow (Is 1:18). When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteous (1 John 1:9). If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). My identity is not in my past, my identity is in Him.
He has completely transformed my life by His Word, His Blood and His stripes. I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind to His Word. The blood of Jesus cleansed me from all my sins. All my sin was nailed to the cross with Him, and He remembers them no more (Is 23:45). By His stripes I have been healed. My heart once broken and ripped has been completely mended and made new.
He took my pile of garbage and gave me a crown of glory. What an exchange! What a glorious Savior! He has completely restored my life....He has given me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness (Is 61:3).
He wants to do the same with you.....have you made the exchange? Have you traded in your pile of junk for a life full of His beauty? Give it to Him, whatever it is..... Your story may be similar to mine or maybe you feel unworthy of God's love from other sins or circumstances that were not your fault. God wants to take your life and start chiseling away what needs to be removed and rebuild the areas beaten down by years of brokenness.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. Is 53:4-5
Receive His healing power today in your life.
Thank you for letting me share a part of my story with you. I pray it brings you another step closer to freedom in Him. I felt God wanted me to share this part with you as well before moving on. In the next post, I promise there will be a much more light-hearted story about ice cream. : )
With Love, praying for you to know the resurrection and restoration power of Jesus,