Mercy in Messiness

Christel’s Story:

Born and raised in Belgium in a family of Catholic believers, I was a very sensitive and clumsy child which made everyday life difficult. I also found it hard to accept myself. Although I attended church every Sunday with my family, I discovered I could know Christ personally at the age of 15 through hearing the Gospel message as I participated in various youth groups. During that time, I experienced the sadness of broken relationships with friends and devastating illnesses in my family. In spite of the sorrow over these situations God gave me a deep inner joy I had never experienced. He provided wonderful friends to help me go through the losses. I felt like I was really living for the first time.

Then God showed me He wanted me to make peace with the little girl I had been because He cared about healing my past wounds. I went through counselling for a year and poured out my pain. When it ended, I decided I didn’t want to suffer anymore and started to protect my heart from any future grief like disease or death. I enjoyed major life changes like getting married, moving to France, beginning an exciting job and giving birth to my first child. Bit by bit, I quit attending church and stopped praying. I thought I didn’t need God anymore and, deep inside, I remained mad at Him for my past suffering.

Four years later, my husband was transferred to Spain. I left my job and arrived in an unknown country with a very basic knowledge of Spanish, a 19- month-old son, and another baby on the way in a month. I encountered moments of pure despair while shut in at home with two young children. But God’s mercy reached out to me through my Spanish teacher. She came to my home twice a week to help me learn the language which became a real oasis in my desert. She was a Christian so I asked her about her beliefs at times and shared with her how mad I was at God. She listened to me with a patience and a kindness I had not experienced for a long time.

A deep desire developed inside of me to follow God. I told Him: “Hi God. I no longer know if you are real or not. But if you are, you can come back to my life.” I started to open the Bible and discovered how those words spoke to my heart. In the beginning, I was a bit shy because I thought God was mad at me for running away. Then I remembered the prodigal son’s story. God was not mad at me and had never been; He had been there all the time, waiting for me with His arms wide open.

In Belgium, France, Spain, even in my messiest trails, God always found me and was with me. When I realized His faithfulness, I fell into His arms. I had heard of God’s personal love but that was the first time I experienced it in a very concrete way. I was loved unconditionally with my sensibility and with my clumsiness. I remember the feeling of being filled by an overwhelming love. I joined the lively protestant church my Spanish teacher was visiting and was blessed by the worship, teaching, and fellowship. Soon God revealed I needed to forgive to some people who had hurt me. In the light of His mercy, I could finally face my pride, my envy, my anger, my low self-esteem, and repent again and again.

A verse that describes my journey with God is Psalm 94:19, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” I am so grateful for the comfort of God’s mercy finding me in all my messy paths and thoughts.


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