I was raised in a very conservative, very rigid, very fundamental faith system. My christianity was made up of a list of rights and wrongs and I very easily found the wrong in others and justified the “rights” in me. When I was in high school, though, I saw through the superficiality of this religion and slowly began to drift away from church.
Having been in such an oppressive environment, I enjoyed the “freedom” that NOT being religious provided. I spent many years out of church – never denying God, just not embracing Him. When I felt the pull to become a mother, I realized I needed to get back into church because, after all, I needed to provide any children I had with this foundational to-do and not-to-do system for christianity.
Living like a pharisee, I picked up right where I left off in seeing the wrong in others and justifying my “rights.” I was married to my first husband and stood in continuous judgment of his lack of commitment to a faith system. When my family fell apart, I grappled around to find something to anchor me, but my surface level christianity was not strong enough to keep me from sinking with the world that was sinking around me.
“my surface level christianity was not strong enough to keep me from sinking with the world that was sinking around me”
I often say now when looking back over the mistakes I made that I cannot regret them. I am not proud, by any means, of the choices I made in the three years after the divorce from my children’s father. However, there is such a beautiful story of redemption for a damaged and judgmental soul in those mistakes. I realized how easy it is to fall into sin, how wasteful it is to focus on what others do or don’t do, and how desperately I needed a true, honest, and deep relationship with God. See, the part I have neglected to mention is that before any of this, I felt unlovable. My father left when I was 9 and while he was a wonderful material provider, his military career kept him from spending time with my sister and me. I had a deep-seeded belief that my dad left because he did not want to be around me. I have had a lifelong gaping wound caused by this sense of rejection. When my ex-husband left, this wound consumed me.
I remember the moment that my heart finally heard, finally understood. I was in church and the praise band was singing “Unfailing Love.” It was the first time I had ever heard this song. The words were what my soul ached to hear, “And everything You hold in Your hand, still You make time for me…”
“In that moment I realized that God just loves me. He loved me in spite of the ugliness…”
In that moment I realized that God just loves me. He loved me in spite of the ugliness, in spite of the years I stood in judgment of others… He loved me because He loves me. While I wish I could say my story was one of complete obedience, this story, my story, has been made beautiful by God. I cannot regret what God has allowed me to use to minister to others.