“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Psalm 6:33
As a teenager and young adult I believed my background was super unique and therefore no one could relate or learn from it. The spark notes are I saw too early how efficiently death, familial drug abuse, pride, selfishness, divorce, lies, secrets, neglect, and a myriad of other words that pack a punch can wreck lives and families. By some great miracle, the combination didn’t wreck me.
Growing up, I often went to church, but that is not where I was saved. Life gave me a hard, skeptical heart that made it difficult to believe what Sunday School told me Jesus had to offer:
Love without conditions. Was that a real thing?
Grace. Didn’t think I needed it, didn’t want to give it. A place in a new family. The first family God gave me was complicated enough, thanks.
Instead, when I was a Sophomore in college Jesus found me at a Bible study I walked into in the basement of my sorority house. At the time, I was still trying to prove my worth by how independent, morally superior, and intelligent I pretended to be. I also got a lot of pride from how far I was able to distance myself from my family and our collective issues. In other words, I was ‘holier than thou’ without Jesus.
For reasons I won’t understand on this side of heaven, while sitting in the Kappa Delta basement I started to become more willing to learn about the way Jesus did relationships. I was still a little bit skeptical, but he slowly started to silence those thoughts in me and Jesus’ love started to change my life.
In the early years in my walks with God, I made loving my friends better and serving my community a priority and it added a lot of fruit to my life. However, there were still areas that I held back from God, most notably my relationships with my family and an old boyfriend.
Holding back from God led me nowhere good. Eventually I found myself sitting in a Minister’s office, intervention style, where I was asked to leave a Bible study group because of sin I had introduced to my life a few months prior. In that scene, I fell back into old habits I thought I had outgrown. I blamed others for the situation, and felt morally superior and distant.
I made a big deal about what I felt the Church was doing to me (rebuking, which is Biblical), before quickly throwing it back to my family. I claimed that if anyone knew my family, they would see what I was doing was comparatively much better. I struggled to humble myself enough to take complete ownership of my choices, and to finally admit I wanted and needed grace. Sitting there, ugly crying on that couch, was probably my lowest moment. Even then, at my worst, I still felt God loving and pursuing me.
On the other side of the breakdown, life has been pretty beautiful. The culmination of that tearful event was a sweet, simple discovery: if I wanted a future with Jesus, I would have to give him my past, too. My hurtful choices, others’ hurtful choices, he wanted to transform all of it into a story that would glorify him.
I finally began to understand that I needed to offer Jesus’ brand of love to others, and came to terms that he was offering all of it to me, Jessica, personally. He humbled himself enough to become a human so that there would be no distance between him and me, and that’s the model he gave for all relationships.
“Above all else have intense and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Peter 4:8
A few years later, through a lot of talk time with Jesus and the help of a professional counselor, my relationship with both my family and myself is a work in progress. Not shockingly, I am seeing how receptive people are when you stop pretending to be better than them and are open and vulnerable about what hurts you! There’s no better way to draw people to you than to humbly love like the Father loves.
Until I started to tell it, I used to think my story was unique. Though the specific details may vary, sharing my story has made me realize a lot of people have dealt with similar struggles and more importantly my awesome God was able to save them, too. I would never know it if I hadn’t decided to open up. The biggest discredit we can do to Jesus is to keep the story of how he pursues and redeems us a secret, to pretend we are perfect. I’m learning it’s the only story I have worth telling. Thanks for reading.
Jessica is apart of the Lane of Roses Community. If you would like to join click here