I grew up in church. My dad was a pastor, which meant that I had to be at church every time the doors were open (and many times when they weren’t.) Life wasn’t exactly easy back then. There was a lot of pressure as a preacher’s kid to pretend that everything was okay even when it wasn’t.
There were times when it felt like the world was crumbling apart around me, and church was not a safe haven for me. It was a place in which I felt isolated and judged, and as soon as I was old enough to say “to hell with it,” I did. When I was around 20 years old I walked out of church with the intention of never going back, and I didn’t for over a decade.
When I moved to New Orleans in 2012 I met people who loved Jesus and did their best to live how He wants us to live. In a blog post, I said that I was “cautiously optimistic” about visiting the place that would become my home church for the next four years.
I went back to that church a few weeks after my first visit and the pastor said, “You’ll never get good enough to get God, and you’ll never be good enough to keep Him once you do get Him.” Since then I’ve read over Ephesians 2 countless times feeling grateful for that truth.
The day I recommitted my life to Christ, as I sat so steeped in sin that I couldn’t see a way out, He became the light in my darkness. I asked Him to come into my life and make me new.
Over the next several months I asked God to purify my heart, to take way all of the pain, and to make sense of all of the chaos that I had inflicted upon myself. He made me new, and His grace released me from all of the shame that I had been living in for far too long.
I was baptized in October of 2013. I was baptized as a child as well, but this time was different because I finally understood what it meant.
While writing a post on my other blog I promised not to become “a Bible thumping lunatic who loves to talk about Jesus all the time.” Um yeah…I probably shouldn’t have promised that because the radical life change that I’ve experienced thanks to Jesus is pretty awesome, and I love to talk about it. (I don’t thump anyone with my Bible though! God wouldn’t be pleased with that.)
After a year into my relationship with Jesus I shared some thoughts about it on my other blog. I said,
“In my late teens and early 20’s, I was an insecure, suicidal, dishonest person who desperately wanted to feel loved and accepted. I didn’t think it was possible that I could forgive those who hurt me, and I didn’t care who I hurt because I was in so much pain. I lived crippled by that pain for years, and now I’m free from it.
It’s by God’s grace that I’m not dead. It’s because of His love that I get to live in freedom now. I’m loved. I’m forgiven. I’m His.”
Now, several years later, I am more in love with Jesus than ever. I’m also in love with my husband, Michael, and we seek God together because our foundation is built on Him. Michael and I met at church in 2015, started dating is 2016 and married in 2017. We’re part of a growing and thriving church community in New Orleans, and it has felt like home since we joined shortly after our wedding.
I read my Bible daily with the intention on learning to hear God’s voice and surround myself with friends who encourage me and challenge me. I spend time in prayer and reading God’s Word because I want to understand who God is and how He wants me to live, and I realize that Jesus is always just as close as the mention of His name.
I’ve experienced His forgiveness and His grace. I’ve learned so much about the impact of that. I’ve also learned, though some tumultuous experiences, that He is always faithful.
I’m so thankful that He loves me; I’m thankful that He’s strong when I’m weak. I’m thankful that nothing can ever separate us from His love, and if you’re reading this, I hope you know without a doubt that He loves you too. If you don’t, send me an e-mail, and we’ll talk about it…
But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.