Throughout high school, I struggled with rejection, acceptance, and a feeling of inadequacy. My parents fought all the time, and I would often be the person they would each turn to in their arguments. As they confided in me about their desires to get a divorce, how they didn't love each other, I felt more alone than ever.
I put my worth in a boy, a relationship that would keep me in bondage until the day I surrendered to Christ over five years later. I was sixteen; when I look back, I realize I was just a kid. I was the little girl that kind of believed what I saw in the movies was true. He was the captain of the football team, I was in marching band. He was a good ol’ boy who everyone knew, I was the unnoticed girl who struggled to fit in. Hillary Duff would have played my super awkward high school self if Disney ever picked up my life and turned it into a movie.
I found my identity in him, and our relationship progressed much quicker than any seventeen year old is ready for. I was bound. He was my identity. And when we broke up to go to college, I couldn’t shake the chains that were suddenly around me. While we broke up, we never really released each other from our lives. We remained physically involved and emotionally manipulative with each other. As we entered into other relationships, we couldn’t shake the bondage that had formed so long ago.
“How did this happen?” I used to ask myself this all the time. “Why can’t I let him go?” “What if I can never develop feelings for another person because I’m so bound to this boy?”
I felt crazy.
I felt broken.
I felt unlovable.
I felt filthy.
By the time I turned 22, I knew that the situation was ridiculous. That I was living nostalgically in the past. That all the manipulation we pulled on each other was causing pain far beyond the pain that we caused ourselves. But I never really thought I had the power to disconnect from him. Part of me believed I couldn’t do better or find anyone else. Another part of me thought, maybe one day he’ll pick me again and I’ll be more than a toy he tosses around.
I walked into Southland Christian Church for the first time in the September of my sixth year of being involved with this boy. I had graduated from college and somehow was still carrying the baggage I picked up at seventeen. I remember to this day the topic of the sermon: relationships. Go figure. I walked in weary, hesitant, resistant, hopeless, dirty and broken. I walked out of church that day in tears. I was still broken, I still felt dirty, I still felt weary and hesitant, but I had hope for the future for the first time. Not hope for true human love, hope for true divine love through the salvation found in Jesus. For the first time, I prayed.
That was three years ago. I haven’t spoken to the young man since. Not one word. Chains were broken that day, a lost person felt sought that day and was soon to be found, a dirty person found the path to the cleansing waters. Less than a year later, I gave my life to Christ. All that I had done, the manipulation, the pain I caused myself and countless others, I left it in the water of baptism. The bondage I felt for close to six years, it lays at the foot of the cross Jesus died on. Friends, do you know what freedom is?
Freedom is not being condemned to who you were, and it’s being given a hope for a future. Freedom is the salvation found in Jesus Christ. Freedom is being able to say that I once was lost but now I’m found. I love the quote in Amazing Grace “How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed”.
I believe what affected me so greatly the day I walked out of church that first time was grace. All the guilt and shame I had accepted in my life, without seeing a way to rid myself of it, was lifted because of the grace of God not anything I could do. My favorite verse I first read in scripture was Isaiah 1 “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (v. 18).
It has been five years since I gave my life to Christ. It’s been four years since God broke the chains and bondage I entered into in high school. I’m twenty-five and the once “unlovable” me is engaged to a wonderful, worthy, godly man. My eyes can only look forward to what God has in store. They don’t look back on what might have been. All I can see is the beauty God is making from the ashes. I see white snow where scarlet stains once were.
God redeems, and I hope you’ll join me in future posts as I share on the redemption I’ve felt rain over my life, not because I deserve it but because our God is GOOD!