As a child, I grew up with the knowledge and belief in the historical Jesus. I didn't know I wasn't saved then. I thought I believed in Jesus, but, in reality, I believed He existed. I believed the things I was told He did, but there were no identifying marks in me that I was a Christian. I guess I believed he was the Son of God, but it was more of a story to me. I relied on "feeling" it's truth-and never felt it. My "religion" was something that I dealt with at our Catholic school, but we didn't talk about it at home. It was something I could easily turn on and off. I've always been a people-pleaser, so, naturally, I wanted God to be pleased with me for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I believed the lie that I had to earn it, to perform for acceptance and salvation. If I had a bad day, I felt like God was just done with me. How could the God of the Universe love someone like me?
I have been chubby for-well-as long as I can remember. I can remember getting sick of lunch meat and eating butter sandwiches that were an inch thick. My mom told me I used to eat whole bags of sour cream and onion chips. When I felt like I couldn't do anything right (or when things did go right!), food would comfort me. It always tasted good, and a happy stomach never let me down. As I went into middle school, I became more and more aware of how different I was (aka bigger than everyone else) and how much I hated myself for it. It wasn't just hate. I loathed myself and started to "cut". I realized I could punish myself for the hate I felt and let it out without hurting anyone else (or so I thought. Just ask my parents how that went). When my plot was foiled it turned into alcohol, drugs, and bulimia. As thankful as I am that my parents moved us to Europe for most of my adolescent life, the readily-accessible alcohol and drugs didn't help a girl like me. My biggest problem was being able to be everything and everyone at once- top of my class, a jock, club volleyball, principal's babysitter, tutor, coach, smoke pot and get drunk. I hid the bad things like a champ. I was so far past wanting to please God that I flat out didn't care anymore. As I approached the end of high school, I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. Somehow God pulled me to K-State and I followed.
One of my high school friends went to K-State, too, and was a Christian. One day, I decided I wanted a Bible-something I had never owned before. We went and bought one in September of 2005. On our way home, we ran into a girl that invited us to Navigators, a campus ministry that met every Thursday. I didn't know her or what "Navs" was, but we gave it a shot.
It blew my mind. I didn't know what contemporary Christian music sounded like. I didn't know people-young people- worshipped. Hands in the air, arms and heart wide open, tears and joy all at the same time. "Where am I?" I thought. Somewhere I want to be, that's for sure. I joined a freshman bible study (who was led by the girl that invited us to Navs and who also discipled me for several months!) and accepted Christ as my savior at a conference in Iowa on October 22nd in 2005.
My life pretty much changed overnight and rightfully so. The feeling of not being loved, not being able to earn God's favor was shattered by the unconditional love of a God who wasn't a Savior because I deserved it. The hatred I felt for myself slowly dwindled because I finally understood that I was accepted and redeemed, that I was who I was and looked the way I did because God wanted me that way. I realized He's given me gifts in areas that I enjoy more than I can explain and has withheld in areas that would probably get me in trouble otherwise. My thirst for love and acceptance turned into a thirst to know God, to know his heart, to know his Word. The distant, unable-to-please God of my youth became the God who knew me intimately, who was as much of a part of my life as my best friend.
He was and is my Savior because he is holy. Because he is Lord. Because he is not only glorified by being just and righteous- he is also glorified by loving and dying for us while we are still sinners. The first verse I ever memorized was 2 Corinthians 5:17- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come! How true this rang in my life! At one point, my mom told me she didn't know who I was anymore. At the time it hurt, but I understood how she felt. I was just getting to know myself as this new creation, too. Now that I look back on that time, I couldn't have asked for a better compliment. I was so changed by the gospel that the one person who knows me best in this world didn't know me. Slowly she did, and we are so much closer because of it.
The next January I met Daniel through our bible studies and, again, I was blown away. God had prepared for me a husband that I would never have imagined could exist. He loved me with a godly love, whose utmost desire was to see me grow in Jesus. He is handsome, strong, and works hard. He is funny and enjoys the fellowship of others. He loves me deeply, but loves Jesus more. My relationship with Jesus is independent and does not rely on my husband, but because of my husband, I have learned things about God and his Word that I wouldn't have learned without him. I am thankful for him, for his family, and for the blessing in them that God has given me-even though I never knew to asked for it. God always knew me and knew what was best for me, even before I knew Him.
Every season of my life has brought blessings and trials. I have failed miserably in both circumstances so many times. Being a Christian doesn't mean I'm perfect. Being a Christian means I believe that the God who made the Universe and everything in it sent his holy Son to die on a cross to reconcile sinners to himself-not because He couldn't live without us in eternity, but because He is glorified in saving us.
Life is hard. It's an ongoing battle. Some days-or years-are better than others. I will never be what the world considers perfect or beautiful. Sadly, I am sure I have been one of those people who has made a person not want to be a Christian. I will always wish I didn't have to worry about fitting into my pants or wearing a swim suit. I will always wish I could remember to call people back or send them a note to say "I love you". I will always wish that people would be proud of me, but somedays I'm just a rotten person. My story isn't one that I consider uncommon or "poor you". My sin was and is just as bad as the next person, but that doesn't make it okay. That's not why I share it. I share it because when I do, people say, "I would never have guessed that about you". It's a cool thing to hear, because I know that's not a testament to me, but to Christ.
Through it all, I am forgiven, I am redeemed, and I am loved.