Oh, hey you! Fellow friend on the other side of a screen. Friend who has been or will be in a time of distress and questioning. Wait should we start there? Is it too early in this post to begin with the suggestion of struggle? Maybe I should introduce myself first? I’m Rachel and I love Jesus and have since I was a small girl. I knew that I wanted to “invite Jesus into my heart” since I was six. I remember running into my parents’ bedroom and telling them I had just invited Jesus to live in my heart because I loved Him and wanted to be with Him forever. Pretty simple. But does there need to be more? I mean really, that’s what it boils down to right?
Anyhow, Pastor Elgins came over for dinner and asked me several questions. He talked with me about what my invitation meant. Just making sure that my small but mighty heart understood the eternal gift I was accepting. I remember thinking, “Listen, I get it - He died for me, so I could be with Him forever. I accept, and I want it. I want Him!” Fast forward a couple weeks and was swimming in that baptismal with my dad who tearfully and joyfully dunked me down into those warm waters! Hallelujah!
So now you know my name. You know my baptism story. Ready to leap forward twelve years and hear about heartbreak and redemption? Shoot! I just gave away the basic truths of my story! Oh well, you’ll hang on and see this thing through, yeah? Ok so we are round-abouts 2004, fall-ish time on the University of Kentucky campus. I’m getting plugged into Christian Student Fellowship, loving life, and feeling like I am totally winning at this adulting business. I mean come on, I could wake up, walk over and get breakfast at the commons and not have to tell my mom?! What is this awesome life and obviously I can handle anything it throws at me!
Well I meet a guy (isn’t there always a guy?). And he is so cute, funny, and super charismatic but kind of shy-ish. Basically, your perfect blend of charming and “I gotta crack this nut open and figure him out so I can fix him.” I know what you’re thinking. You can’t fix someone. You won’t find value or self-worth there. But remember Rachel was just 18, super naïve and never so much had been to a high school party with drinking and smoking, let alone engage in a secret relationship for a year and a half, gave her entire self, physical, mental and emotional to this person all while lying to her family and friends until she could justify her actions and choices! Justify her sin…
Man, that escalated quickly! Listen I’ve got word count parameters here friend! So eventually my boyfriend revealed himself to be controlling, suspicious, and untrusting. I was scared, alone and prideful. I tried so many times to leave. So, so many times. I lost count over the course of our relationship. I do know that with each failed attempt I became smaller. Smaller in heart, mind and spirit. I was weak and couldn’t see past the circumstances that so slowly built walls around me. And what’s worse is I believed the lies of evil. That I was disgusting, worthless and lost. It wasn’t until I was staring down at a positive pregnancy test in disbelief and fear that I realized how far I was from where I started. Who was this girl? I didn’t know her.
But my Heavenly Father did. He knew me before I knew Him. He chose me before I chose Him in that 6-year-old girl’s pink bedroom. He made a way for me. He wouldn’t let me stay in a relationship that was destroying my heart and tearing me apart from Him. I was ripped from that relationship in a night. My best friend knew me and knew the person I was becoming wasn’t who God had designed me to be. Luckily, she’s the kind of friend we all want and need. She made the tough call and risked me hating her by giving me an ultimatum, “Tell your parents by this day or I will.”
It was like a weight of terror AND welcomed release. So, I reached out to my brother and told him I had been hiding an abusive relationship and I didn’t know how to get out. That night we went to my parents’. That night I crawled out of the darkness. That night we went to his house to get my things. The next weeks and months were rough to say the least. But slowly and gently my Father continued to draw near to my broken heart. He began restoring my wounded spirit and complete lack of self-recognition. He reminded me who I ALWAYS was, the daughter of a King.
You see friend, ours is a Father who leaves the 99 for the one lost sheep. And I certainly was lost, broken and desperate. Desperate for love, validation and justification of my sin. The idea of, “I have to make this right before I can…” Fill in the blank. Come back to church? Tell my parents? Come back to God? But I am my Father’s and He is mine. Praise the LORD for that!
Ok so how do I wrap this up neatly, bow and all? Well, God is still revealing Himself in that story. Redeeming my heart through the lies, secrets, and miscarriage. I am in awe of His rescuing and unfailing love that never gave up, even when I had. And as I sit here today, a 32-year-old wife and mother of three, I wonder what I would tell my scared, naïve, and young self. If she came to me today and told me her story, her cries for help, I’d cry with her, hug her, and affirm in her that she is so loved. She is forgiven before she needs forgiveness. I would tell her not to wait so long to receive it. And I’d tell her she is not hopeless, forgotten or worthless. I’d rock her in my arms and tell her she is a child of God.
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