Like many, my story has been shaped by straight paths and curves, valleys and peaks. I was raised in a home that taught me to trust in God. For many years I walked a path towards Him, learning about Him and learning how to trust Him. However, I moved away from home with rocky faith, mostly based in an earthly Christian mentor rather than a heavenly God.
Humans, by nature, cannot sustain the illusion of perfection for very long. Certain mentors I trusted turned their lives away from Jesus, making me question everything I had been told about Him. When fear and doubt crept in, I ran. My years in college were heavily defined by a decision to live for myself rather than ‘feel like I had to live for any type of God.’ Looking back, I now consider it mere spiritual apathy wrapped tightly in selfishness and entitlement. I was simultaneously looking to figure out all of life’s questions, while running from the only true answer.
I spent the next six years of my life chasing everything under the sun I felt could satisfy me. It was fruitless. Drinking, partying, unhealthy and abusive relationships, an eating disorder; these things consumed my existence. In my attempt to find myself, I stripped myself of all self-worth, and replaced it with self-loathing, fear and doubt. I knew nothing about who I was supposed to be. I had no purpose. Life felt empty. Life was empty.
I was living in Chicago when my life finally crumbled to its lowest point. I remember looking in the mirror, considering all that was happening in my life in that moment and not recognizing who I had become. I was disgusted with myself, and the self-loathing thoughts continued to pile on thicker and thicker. I’m not sure I would have truly given up on my life, but I would be lying if I said I never considered it. Life was dark.
I hesitantly made a decision to return to Kentucky in July 2011. I felt like a failure, moving home after one short year in the city I originally saw myself living in forever. I moved home feeling the weight of regret that had mounted over the recent years of my life. But soon after, I began feeling mixed thoughts of hope and conviction. Thoughts I now credit to Jesus and His Spirit. Thoughts which gave me the slight notion that perhaps there was more to my life purpose than what I was doing. Even through my resistance, God persisted. Finally, I surrendered. Life had light again.
Over the last five years, Jesus has continued teaching me to never expect perfection from anyone but Him. He is the only one who can live up to that standard. No one else can, not even myself. Jesus continues stripping away the layers of self-doubt and self-loathing I had wrapped myself in so tightly. Life is not perfect. I am not perfect. When I look in the mirror, considering all that is happening in my life at this moment, sometimes I don’t recognize who I have become. I am shocked by what He’s allowing me to do with my life. I am a continual work in progress, but I have purpose. I have Jesus. I have life.