I can remember a time when God was something I knew was good, but I thought what I had was better. I grew up not knowing you could have a relationship with Jesus. I grew up not knowing that there was a life free of shame and bondage; not even knowing that I was sitting in those chains. With that said, I was blessed with a loving family and a stable environment. I was taught to love, to learn, to respect. I was raised Catholic: from baptism to confirmation. I knew the words to repeat, the hymns to sing, the way to act while I was in mass. What I didn't know was that there was a creative God who handcrafted me in my mother's womb and wanted a personal relationship with me.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. - Ephesians 2:10
God grabbed ahold of my older sister's heart when she was a freshman in high school. I watched her life transform before my eyes. She developed into a joyous, thoughtful, radiant woman. A woman I wanted to be. As the daughter who made toxic decisions and based her worth off of friendships and relationships, I was bitter. With my twin brother following closely in her footsteps by giving his life to Jesus, I felt inferior-like I was never going to be good enough to have that kind of love and joy in my heart. My life quickly became a game of comparison and ultimatums. In middle school is was “maybe if was as skinny or as pretty as her, I would feel more fulfilled and confident.” In high school it transitioned to “if I keep sleeping with my boyfriend, then hopefully he will stop threatening to leave me.” My body became a bargain for a little bit of confirmation and love. I tried to find fulfillment in anything that would make me feel good for the moment, but it was all fleeting. Highs come and go when you chase after your earthly desires and are usually followed by disappointment or shame. After chasing this lifestyle for years and years, I was heartbroken and exhausted. Something continued to tug in my heart that told me “there has to be something more than this.” Having lived with two Christians for four years, I knew that was Jesus, but had no idea what that would look like for someone as ‘broken’ as me.
What I didn't know was the Holy Spirit at the time, had prompted me with boldness to step out and go to a women’s outreach event at the beginning of my sophomore year. A woman spoke about her walk with God. She was vulnerable about being broken and how she allowed God to mend her mess in the lonely and single season of her life. I had heard things like this before, but this time it was different. The Lord had prepared my heart for so long to hear this word in this moment. I went up to the speaker that night and asked her to coffee and she did me one better by inviting me to her m-group that next Wednesday. I decided to have faith in the things I could not immediately see. I had an invitation all along to be a daughter of the one true King. An invitation to live free from sin and in the light of salvation. That invitation started on the cross. The Lord of the universe took on human flesh and suffered perfectly. As He faced a brutal death to take the sins of this world away, He thought of me - His sweet daughter Lauren.
ISN’T THAT CRAZY? And guess what? He thought of you too! He died on that cross just for the chance that we may one day come home to Him. That we may one day walk into His loving arms and allow Him to wash us white as snow and give us the fulfilling life that He created us to have. He doesn't promise our lives will be made perfect by choosing Him, but he promises us eternal life with Him. He gives us His Spirit to change our hearts and desires and see this temporary home through His eyes. I would choose the destiny God has for my life over the one I would choose for my life any day. We have a protective and loving Heavenly Father waiting to save us from the bondage of sin, and all it takes is a leap of faith.
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. - Ephesians 3:17
Know that you are chosen. You have an identity in God. You are worthy. You are loved. Allow the seed of love God offers you settle deeply into your heart and soul. Tend to the seed with His word, prayer, and community. Let it grow until that love is seeping through your every pore.
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