As I think back now, I am disgusted by the hypocrisy that has drenched my past.
During my teen years a normal day for me would consist of: laughing and smiling as the “straight-A-president of the student body,” singing my heart out as the star-soloist for the church youth choir, but only after serving in the nursery and attending small group Bible study.
But then, under the cover of darkness, I would sneak out to some hormone-driven, cologne-doused, boy’s house in a desperate attempt to fill my “need tank;” either with sex or alcohol—it didn’t matter which to me. As “typical fatherless girl” cliché as it may seem, as a young woman I desperately craved worth, value, and affection from a man. And since being brutally date-raped at the age of 15, I often believed the lie that “uncommitted sex” was the only way “someone like me” could be significant in the eyes of another.
After a few years of “faking it” to everyone around me and “playing church,” the charade of “clean on the outside/dirty on the inside” became my reality and in turn, my identity.
I now despair at the thought of blessings, opportunities, and victories I completely missed due to the stubbornness (and stupidity) of my past.
Every time I stuck my finger down my throat after a meal, every time I sliced the flesh of my forearm until I drew blood, every time I had a sexual encounter with a boy—all these “behaviors” were merely symptoms of one horrific, gut-wrenching infection called doubt. In fact, every area of dysfunction in our life comes from only one place—that place is our wrong answer to the question, “Did God really say?” (you may recognize this questions as asked per the serpent to our dear mama, Eve in the garden).
As a teen and even into my young adult life, every part of me was crying out for unconditional love, and God was offering it to me over and over again—daily. And yet, my focus and identity was based on the external. I could only see the behaviors; the ‘symptoms’ that needed to be fixed, not the deep-seeded internal disease that needed to be healed.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God. I just didn’t believe God. I would later understand that to simply believe in God would lead to an even simpler life—mediocre at best. But to believe God; to actually see yourself the way He sees you, well now, that life is quite different—intoxicating and breathtaking, if I do say so myself.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15 (ESV)
To be honest with you, as I write this today I am still quite a mess, but, by the grace of God, I am a beautiful mess; allured and adored by the only one who ignites my deepest longings; the only one who can grant me true identity, worth, and value.
I am 33 years old and in my short life I have wrestled with God through some pretty deep and dark trenches; depression, a miscarriage, infidelity (on my part), the death of a parent, and a cancer diagnosis to name a few. Throughout the majority of my life I have believed the lie that God’s passionate love was only for the “pretty, ‘got their act together,’ church people,” and not for the “dirty rotten scoundrels” like me.
Perhaps you are at a place where you think God’s love is for other people, but not for you.
Maybe you believe that you are merely an “accident,” or, “too far gone,” or, “too damaged and broken” to truly be loved and used for God’s great purpose.
And the truth is, if God were not the essence of true love in and of Himself, this might be the case for us. But God is not human; He is the creator, author, and sustainer of love; which is infinitely better than any love a human can give.
To be loved by Jesus Christ is an indescribable experience; deeper and more genuine than any one of us are capable of understanding. God’s love is not a product of what we do or don’t do; it is not based on anything we can do for him. God’s love is so pure and untainted that it cannot and will not allow us to continue in sin. The love of God means that God does whatever needs to be done, at any cost to himself or to us, to ensure that we will experience and be satisfied by his love forever.
And so, I choose each day to believe the unending love of my Jesus—that he sees my mess, is not surprised by my mess, wants all of it, and loves me despite it! And in response to the question, “Did God really say?”—I choose to answer with a resounding, YES!