I was raised in a religious home. We went to church, but I spent most of the time counting the organ pipes at the front, anxiously waiting for the service to end. I have no real memory of reading the bible at home or talking about Jesus. I was baptized, took my first communion and was confirmed. Honestly, it all meant nothing to me.
I lived my life as a “good girl.” I made good choices to please my parents with no thought of pleasing God. I would not say I lived in a strict home, but it was just easy to be good and hang around the good kids. After graduating from high school I went to college where I joined a sorority and met a lot of new friends. A lot of Christian friends!
Looking back my Christian friends invited me to do things, but I had no interest. I went to church maybe once in college to selfishly pray for a good grade in one of my classes. I discovered alcohol and began to socially drink, at times a little too much. Drinking made it easy to talk and to let loose and have a little more fun than the “good girl.” I saw the Christians around me and thought their wholesome lives were boring; however, I noticed a certain peace and joy they had, that I did not. What I didn’t know is that they were praying for me.
I would jump into relationships to fill the void. The highs of the attention, affection, and physical intimacy I experienced in a new relationship amounted to fleeting happiness. I experienced deep pain when they ended and there was no real joy in my life. After college I moved back home and got a job. I went out drinking with friends on Friday and Saturday and I went to church on Sunday morning, but still felt lonely. I continued to drink and date and after a few failed long-term relationships, I was exhausted. I could not get out of my own way for so many empty years. My Christian friend who I knew in college invited me to join a Bible study at her home.
This study turned out to be a huge turning point in my life. It introduced me to the fundamentals of Christianity which humbled me and opened my heart to a new life with Jesus at the center. I found a woman who was farther along in her faith to show me how to depend upon Christ. I became comfortable in my singleness for a while. My old ways of looking to the highs of social drinking and relationships no longer brought me happiness. I cried out to God to break me out of my cycle.
I stopped reading “self- help” books to bring me out of my pit and started reading the Bible—God’s Word. I desired Christ centered relationships that would grow me in my relationship with Christ. I felt God transforming my heart. Before, I was living a life where I was at the center and committing “respectable sins.” On the outside I looked like I had it all together, but inside I was a mess. With God’s help over time I was able to stand against the temptation to make dating relationships my obsession.
Today, I do my best to live a surrendered life of purity through the strength of Jesus Christ living in me. I remain so grateful to have met and married a man whom I share faith in Christ as a foundation. We have walked through some mud along the way, because God never promises an easy life as Christians. God blessed us with our children and we pray that they come to know Christ at an early age as we also pray for Him to be the center of our home. I cling to Philippian 4:8 as a specific prayer for God to work in us as a family: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I feel more convinced than ever in my Christian beliefs which causes me to be more intentional in my conversations and friendships. I pray that God will bring somebody to me that I can pour my faith into and share His truths which have transformed me. When I struggle with being misunderstood or rejected on occasion because of my decisions and behaviors of the past, I remember that I no longer place my hope in people and circumstances to bring me peace and joy. I find strength to forgive myself through putting my faith in God’s complete forgiveness described in His Word. Psalm 103:11-12 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”