My life may look perfect from a distance, and indeed, I am truly blessed. My prayer is that everyone that sees my life recognizes that any good in my life or in me comes from God, and I pray that they see Him and that HE is glorified.
While still in college, after I truly committed my life to the Lord at age 20, I began making decision after decision that brought me and my life into greater alignment with His Word (truly seeking to be faithful in the little things), and God has blessed my feeble attempts to live for Him. However, as a young believer, I went back and forth between the faith I wanted so desperately to have and the life I had been living for myself with all its chaos, destruction, and hopelessness. Heck, this is still a struggle for all of us sometimes, isn't it?
Anyway, what I am going to share next is not a cry for validation, sympathy, or help. God has redeemed every area that I am about to share with you. Through Christ, I have been forgiven of every sin and set free from everything that wanted to enslave me. And that is the reason I don't like it when someone thinks that I've lived or have a perfect life. I don't deserve to be on any pedestal, believe me, and just so you know, I've never climbed up on a pedestal because that's not where I want or deserve to be. :-)
As a child, I grew up in an alcoholic home, and I know the chaos, confusion, and pain that it causes. I am a child of divorce and understand being raised by a single mother (who did the best job EVER as a parent). She worked hard and sacrificed MUCH to keep us in our home and raise us alone. I was molested for years, and I didn't feel like I could set boundaries with others later in life because I was too scared to say "No." I actually didn’t even know I could say, “No.” I understand and know the devastation and power of secrets. I began drinking in high school and would drink because I didn't know what to do with my feelings and pain. I know what it's like to live life one way during the day, and another way at night. I understand depression and extreme self-condemnation. I have lived through betrayal and the pain and damage of emotional/verbal abuse from a man I thought I loved. I thank God for saving me from a life that would have caused me to be a divorced, single mom by now. I understand trying to sabotage a good and healthy relationship because I knew I didn't deserve it. I broke up with Dave while we were dating because I knew he deserved someone far better and holier than me. We struggled with infertility (I know with having four kids that no one probably believes that), and we lost our first baby through a miscarriage. I've made (and continue to make) mistakes as a wife and mother that have caused pain or hurt to my husband and children.
You may look at my life as you see it now and not know all the events that molded and created me to be the person I am today. Because of God's Word, His grace, hard work, counseling, prayer, and sometimes just the act of taking another step, these situations no longer have power over me, and the shame I carried for so long is gone. I have received grace and healing. I still struggle with some issues, especially when I haven't had enough sleep or I allow myself to get overly stressed, but I don't live with secrets anymore.
So you see, I sit in the front row on Sunday mornings with Dave simply as a woman who loves God and wants to live for Him. I don't do that perfectly, but I want to do it honestly. I'm sorry if there is something that I do that makes it seem like I'm not real, and regrettably I can't know everyone personally who calls New Life home, but that doesn't mean I don't want to know you. I would love for everyone to know the real me, and to also know and experience the hope and forgiveness that I have found in Jesus.
I am reminded of this verse from 1 Thes. 2:8 "We felt so strongly about you that we were determined to share with you not only the Good News of God but also our lives. That’s how dear you were to us!"
You are dear to me, even if I don’t know you well, so I will continue to endeavor to share my life with you, as I continue to hold out the hope of the Good News of Jesus Christ. No, I can't get up on Sunday morning each week to state who I am just so people won't have a wrong impression of me, but it's not about me anyway. I just want everyone to know that I am approachable and understanding. Don't shy away from me because you think I can't understand where you might be coming from, and especially don't judge yourself against who you think me to be. I am on this journey with you.
So this, then, is how I do "it." I keep going, trying to learn to relax more and more into His love, and to live authentically before God and man.
I thank you for being a part of my journey and ask you to continue traveling together with me.