When Chels first asked me to share my testimony on the blog, I was a bit terrified. There’s something so sweet and yet so scary about vulnerability. All my life I have struggled with wanting others to think the very best of me. I ran to affirmation as my comfort instead of my King, Jesus.
So, today, after wrestling with what to share for about three months now (sorry, Chels 😉 ) I want to tell you how I met Jesus as a young girl and how he fiercely pursued me so that I may find my joy and comfort in Him alone.
I grew up in a typical Christian home. My parents told me about Jesus and taught me who He is and who He is to me. They displayed through their own lives how important it is to show your love for God and for people through your actions.
From the get-go, Jesus and I had a very intimate relationship. As a little girl, I would have the same nightmare over and over. In the dream, some strange terrifying man was cutting off my skin and sewing me back up. I clung to Jesus, closed my eyes and fell asleep praying almost every night because I was so terrified of that strange man. Why I had these dreams, I have no clue. But because of them, I learned to pray and trust in Jesus. I didn’t understand the depth of my sin or human nature. I didn’t get what “total depravity” means, I just knew that God loves me and He sent His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for me. I wanted Him and I wanted to have a place in heaven.
Every time there was an altar call I would pray “Jesus, please save me. I love you and know that I am a sinner and that I need you. Thank you, thank you for dying for me.” What I didn’t realize at the time is when Jesus grabs a hold of your heart and draws you to him, you’re his forever, there’s nothing you can do to change that. Your name is written on the book of life. And that’s for eternity.
When high school hit, I became involved in a relationship that quickly turned physical. On the surface, I was in church, actively involved in a community, and known as the “good girl.” But, behind the scenes, my nights were spent sneaking out of the house to meet up with my boyfriend.
Those were my secrets that I fought so hard to keep. Throughout high school, I worked hard to keep up appearances but my heart was filthy. On the surface, things seemed close to perfect which fed my ego. I believed the lie that appearances are what matter most, rather than my heart. I went into college thinking, “now is my time to let loose a little, to party and stop being the good girl” that I thought I was. I was weary from all the years of striving to convince myself and everyone else that I had it all together. In my mind, I’d decided, “I’m gonna put my relationship with God on the back burner and do what I want.”
I mistakenly thought I could make all the decisions and was in control of my life and my relationship with God. Even though I truly believe I was saved as a little girl, I continued to rebel against the Lord.
God had other plans for me
He met me at a camp called Impact that serves as an introduction to Christian culture at Texas A&M. I remember at worship one night falling to my knees because I was overwhelmed by God’s presence as He spoke to me. Not audibly, but I just knew that God told me “you are not going to be in a sorority”. That may seem so silly and so insignificant, but it was instrumental to me. I was very impressionable at the time, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Enneagram, but I am type 3 and I have the tendency to mold myself into what other people want me to be. I desire to have friends and I desire to be liked. I long for the approval of others, so I was very impressionable as a young college Freshman. Knowing what I know now, a Greek Sorority would have been a bad idea for my young self.
To me, those words were powerful. So, in obedience, I instead joined a Christian sorority, Sigma Phi Lambda (side note: that’s where I met Chels). For for the first time, I saw other women pursuing Jesus and in deep intimate relationships with him. God instilled a fire in me. All I wanted to do was talk about Jesus, share my passion for Him, and learn more about His goodness.
God is real
I had two potluck roommates Freshman year and in my mind, they were my mission. My goal was to love them and serve them at all costs so they might come to know Jesus. Little did I know, God used them to show me just how real he is and that Spiritual Warfare is amongst us every day. It’s not some distant thing that happens in other countries, there is a battle here and we need to guard our hearts against it.
When I was face to face with spiritual warfare, God became so much more real to me. I felt an urgency and a need to run to him, to know him more, and to learn about him through his Word. So now, I was on this journey to be “the best Christian” or the most servant-hearted. I wanted Jesus, yes. I just still wanted approval and to be held in high esteem more. I always wondered why it was so easy for me to just talk about him to others but so hard for me to get alone with God and dive into scripture. I still wasn’t wanting to fully surrender to him and go “unnoticed.”
God pursued me and graciously showed me my pride so that he could begin doing a great work in my heart. He helped me know that he loves me for who I am and wants me to be who He created me to be, not some version that I think I need to be to impress or meet the expectation of someone else.
People always told me that marriage is sanctifying. Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize how true that was.
I met Josh, my husband, through a mutual friend. I remember sitting down at a table with him and he was talking about Ephesians 3. Honestly, I was in awe of him. I thought to myself, who is this cute guy who is talking about his intense passion for Jesus. He would say his main heart is that he wishes he would be so close to God and so in love with him, his dad, that his motivation would be that of Christ. That his heart would be God’s heart, not his own. That he’d be so in tune with Him, he would know exactly what God wants for him.
We fell deeply in love and we fell extremely fast, almost dangerously fast. We met in April 2013 and that very next May in 2014 we said: “I do.” We’ve been married for a little over four years now and have a beautiful baby girl, Keira Grace. Throughout our marriage, God has continued to strip me of this idol and it has been so beautiful (and painful).
Living in the same home, it became really challenging to “keep up appearances” and God used our relationship to bring my sin to the surface – big time. God pursued me and drew me to himself and helped me to see there is nothing that can separate me from his goodness. He encouraged me to spend time alone in his Word and in prayer and get to know my Heavenly Father, my Dad. My whole life, I had been teaching myself that I needed to suppress, I needed to pretend and put on a front. That’s not what the Gospel teaches. God has done a work in my heart and what was once broken, God has restored and redeemed.
Letting go of pride and running to Jesus
I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed, to be honest. I’m not afraid that who I am isn’t “good enough” for others. I not only believe the story of Jesus Christ, but I am able to rest in the Gospel every day because, the truth is, we’re not good enough and that’s whole the point. Even though we fail and we disappoint Him, God meets us here – exactly where we are.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:23-24
So sister, if that’s you and you are ashamed or just trying to keep it together on the surface – don’t. Bring it to the light tell your community or close friends, run to Jesus, pray. Hiding only unintentionally blocks the beauty of God’s grace (Jaime Ivey, If Only You Knew).
Set your mind on things above. Not only does it give God glory, it will bring you true joy.