Out of the following options, can you guess how my story begins?
A) I had an abortion.
B) I was hooked on drugs and alcohol.
C) I lied and cheated my way through high school.
Alright. I’ll tell you; it’s D):
I was a good little girl who never caused her parents any trouble (well, almost never).
The truth is, I used to wish I had a more exciting tale to tell of how I came to know Christ. Then maybe it would be more compelling; then maybe I wouldn’t find myself in disobedience so many times, because she who has been forgiven much loves more, and is loved more . . . Or something like that. Right?
Actually, my story begins like that of many who are raised in a Christian home. Yes, I “gave my life to the Lord” at the age of three. Yes, my parents taught me all about him through songs and Bible stories. And I can’t recall a time when I didn’t know he was there.
As a child I had a strong, simple faith. When I wanted a little sister, I asked God for one. (My parents said they had no doubt that when my sister was born, she would be a girl.) I also remember being very concerned for the salvation of others, and would often go to my room, kneel next to my bed, and pray that they would come to know Christ.
As I grew up, I somewhere along the way lost this unshakeable faith in my Savior. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe in him anymore – because I did – but rather, it was more like I didn’t believe his love and goodness were for me. I longed for a close, intimate relationship with him, but I had a hard time believing this was possible because I know God expects perfection and I so often saw myself falling short.
I pictured him as a distant father who was offering a relationship with his child, only to become angry or saddened every time his child did not meet the requirements to live a pure and holy life. I was conscious of every little sin, every little mistake I made. I cannot tell you how many times I fell to my knees, telling God I was sorry, and promising to do better. I just felt so worthless. Yes, I knew “God is love” and “He will never leave or forsake” and that he wants a relationship with his children, but….Surely I was the exception. God would save my soul from destruction, so I wouldn’t burn in hell, but after so many times of failing him, I was convinced he didn’t really want to be near me anymore.
By the time I became a teenager, I was shy, sad, and depressed. There were many times I would go to bed, wishing I could end it all, and hoping I might never wake up. No one knew of my secret struggles. Of my longing to feel truly loved and intimately connected. Because I didn’t know how to find this connection with God, I became a people-pleaser. On the outside, I was the “perfect” child. But I wondered why I couldn’t be more like my sister, whom everybody adored. I wanted to be pretty and liked by everyone.
But God wasn’t about to leave me like that. It wasn’t until later that I realized that he was gently pursuing me all along. He used many small things in life to get my attention and show me how much he loves me, and that I am valued and beautiful in His sight.
I just didn’t “get it” though. In an effort to have a close relationship with someone, I got too close to one of my guy friends and fell in love. Then he disappeared from my life. I was devastated, and I felt betrayed.
After this, Jesus began teaching me that he is the ultimate bridegroom and lover, and that I really didn’t need to search for my identity in human relationships. I can’t say for sure when God’s love became real to me, because I don’t know that there was a single “aha” moment . . . but there were several moments along the way:
Like the time he spoke to me through one of my favorite songs, “Beautiful One,” on the way home from college. I was singing along with the radio when I heard his voice, saying, “Melody, you are my Beautiful One whom I adore.” Tears ran down my face as I realized what the Lord was telling me – he loves me completely; no strings attached. He wasn’t angry with me or waiting to punish. He cherishes me.
Or the time he sent a message to me through a friend who reminded me of God’s great love for me. A love that is deeper than we can ever imagine. My friend encouraged me to go to God with my loneliness, with my unforgiveness for this guy who had hurt me, and invite God to take away the worthless feelings and heal my broken heart.
I would say it took a bit of time for me to trust God and give him back my heart. But slowly I stopped sharing my feelings of inadequacy with others and started just turning to God when I had needs, like when I felt lonely or hurt. I read his Word and asked him to help me believe in His love for me.
Then one morning, God gave me an amazing dream (you need to read it!). When the dream was gone, I felt safely wrapped in his arms, and you know what else? I realized that those feelings of inadequacy had been replaced by peace.
I share all of this with you because I want you to have a glimpse of where I am coming from, and be encouraged by my story. Crazy as it sounds, I still struggle with feeling like I’m not enough. But now I know what to do when those feelings arise. They are just feelings, and I usually tell Satan where to stick it when he tries to get me riled up. :) Because the truth is, he is right. I am not enough. But Jesus is, and because of his sacrifice for me, I am more than beautiful in his sight.
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