11/24/2009 – Lord… How are you here?? How are you with me? How are you my strength? How are you GOOD when this world is so bad and I am so hurt?
College had some rough patches for me.
Growing up in a Christian home, I had always known God. In middle school, when the pastor said, “God turned his back on his own son so he wouldn’t have to turn his back on us,” I wanted in. I told Jesus my life was about Him and I was so sorry for all the selfish things I had done. But after high school, there was a fade. I started “letting go” more, partying with friends and doing life my own way. I was falling. I saw the Bible as a set of rules, limitations for how not to live, while everyone else was free to have fun. However, the attraction to live like the rest of the world soon fell short as I continually found myself disappointed. So I would go back to God and start doing things His way, and then I would slowly teeter back to doing life like everyone else, and then I would come back to God… I was all over the place, until one season, in particular, where everything came crashing in. I ended up in a terrible relationship that made me question everything I thought I knew, yet when we finally broke up, I felt certain the time apart was even worse than the time together. I wallowed in self-pity. I drank way too much and didn’t know how to stop. And I lived trapped in a pattern of starving myself and binge eating, because I was convinced that a magic number on the scale would fix everything.
I genuinely wanted God and the stability I had known years prior, but I couldn’t get there. I was so blinded by my emotions. My feelings were my guide. If I felt sad about the breakup, I thought it meant we were supposed to be together. If I felt like having fun, why shouldn’t I go out to the bars? If I felt bad about myself, it made sense to stop eating until I felt so hungry that I had to make up for all lost time.
For months I journaled about this battle. I was filled with guilt, miserable doing things my own my way and hating myself for not being the way I wanted to be. I was a disaster and doing everything wrong, but somehow still knew I could come to Jesus. I needed to come to Jesus. My journal was filled with prayers, each one ending with a request for help. I knew Jesus was my only hope because I had known the goodness of life with him before.
But stubborn and resistant, my road back to him was long. There was nothing big or glamorous, no quick fixes like I wanted, rather, it was lots of little moments I began to surrender and do things God’s way. I started drinking less, I saw counselors, I attended church more… It was a process, but God started changing my heart from only caring that he answer my prayers to desiring Him and His will.
At the IF:Gathering conference in 2016, God gave me an ultimatum: do you believe that I am real? Do you believe that my Word is true? I had done life with God and without. I had to make up my mind, and I had to stick with it.
While a lot has happened in the last 10 years, one thing I know is that God is not an emotion. He’s not there only if I feel him, and he’s not gone if I don’t. He’s not my strength only if I feel strong, and He’s not bad just because I feel hurt. He is who he is. How I feel doesn’t have to control how I act or what I believe anymore.
Instead of seeing the Bible as a set of rules, I’m beginning to understand God’s heart and intentions, and I’m finding more life in doing things His way than I ever could have expected. Instead of only focusing on myself, I’m praising God for who He is and praying for eyes to see things His way.
I’m definitely not perfect, but I have that stability and peace I had missed because I’ve chosen to live for His glory. Now, when I mess up or life gets hard, I come back to Him and His Word for guidance. I’m reminded of who I am because of Jesus, and I’m able to go from having a story that so few knew, to sharing it on an internet blog, because I know that I’m not defined by my sin, and I’m not defined by my past. I’m trusting God more and more by doing things His way and watching him work. It often feels slow, and it often feels mundane, but it’s in this process that I’m finally getting to know God himself, one step at a time.
This video drama reflects a lot of my story and is one that I think a lot of us can relate to:
To anyone who is lost, who feels trapped in patterns they hate, who thinks their life is too big of a disaster to come to God, let me assure you: you are not without hope. There is a God who loves you, no conditions. He is a God who has already fought for you and wants you to come to him, just as you are.
Stepping in: How does it affect your view of God when people are honest about their stories and their past?
Journeying further: What ways have you seen God use your story? What ways might he continue to use it if you continue to share?
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17