I’m not sure how I didn’t end up pregnant in high school.
I wasn’t the nice Christian girl who prayed around the flagpole. I was the girl who skipped school and wasn’t very particular about who she slept with. It was exciting to me and I felt grown up and desirable. My relationships lasted for a month or two and then it was on to the next.
I remember going to youth group at Reston Bible Church and feeling completely separate from the rest of the kids. Everyone was nice, but I could tell they thought I was kind of cray. I was the bad girl who knew every word to Machiavelli. They were talking excitedly about the new Amy Grant album. I felt like a ghetto fish out of water. These teenagers were wholesome and they loved Jesus. I went to all the events, and honestly, everyone was great, but I still almost got kicked out of Summer Retreat for sleeping with a guy from another camp group. Good thing I lied and covered my tracks. For some reason, people prayed for me a lot (shout out to the Varneys and Cyndi Wagner!).
After high school, I continued to party, adding alcohol and weed to my “Things that are Fun” list. I discovered bars and clubs. I got engaged when I was twenty to a really fun, cute guy who loved to party even more than I did. This charmer was, in fact, a raging alcoholic. Living with him was a complete nightmare. The sweet times were quickly overshadowed by darkness, and when the physical abuse started I moved out. I was so in love with this man, but by the grace of God I had the strength to leave.
A few months later, I met Mike, and we were “together” for four years. If I happened to meet a hottie at the club, I wouldn’t think twice about going home with him. Mike and I were casual. Until I finally did get pregnant. After a miscarriage at twenty-three, I wanted to settle down. I worked to build a more serious relationship with Mike, but it didn’t happen. We said “I love you” and our physical relationship was great, but he wasn’t trustworthy and I was a mess.
By the time I was twenty-five, I was ready. My bad choices had gotten me nothing but misery. I was sick of my life. I was thinking about God all the time and wondering if he could help. I’d heard all my life that he had a good plan for me, and I desperately needed something good.
My sin and shame were all I knew, but at the edge of my messed up life was a cliff, with a promising new world stretched out beneath it. It was unexplored and it seemed impossibly far away, but the only other option was to walk back into my chaos. I jumped.
I said goodbye to Mike, all my friends, and the town I’d grown up in. I quit sex, smoking, and cigarettes, and moved to Richmond. I lived with my best friend from third grade and her husband until I got my own apartment. I went to church. I fell in love with the God who would do anything to have a relationship with me. Me! Even me!
After awhile, I realized something..I was happy. I had friends who actually loved me, I was making good decisions based on my knowledge of God’s word, and I liked myself for the first time since elementary school ( I miss you, The Villa!).
Now, it is hard to look back and remember the unhappy woman I once was. That person seems so foreign to me and so very lost. I’ve fallen back into sin a few times since I became a Christian, but I can’t stand being there and God is always faithful to pull me out and restore me to himself.
My life is not characterized by huge success by the world’s standards, but I feel like I’ve won the lottery. My transformation is a declaration of God’s faithfulness and the validity of his Word. I am thriving. I have a great relationship with my parents, which I never thought would happen! I respect myself. I am loved by an amazing group of people. I have a lot of love for broken people.
I wish it was easy to tell them how God wants to do for them what he did for me, but it’s not. It’s hard to see that change is possible. It’s hard to believe we can be satisfied if we let go of our vices: the things that bring us great pleasure and devastating pain.
I realize my story is a bit more dramatic than some, and trust me, I left out a lot. There are people who do life better than I did, and may not see that their need for God is just as real as mine is. All sin separates us from God, some is just more subtle than others. I am actually grateful for my brokenness, because it led me to the Healer.
I want to end this by saying thank you. Not just for me, but for all of us who have been transformed by the love of Jesus.
Thank you to the people who faithfully prayed for the messed up girl in your youth group. Thank you to the parents who loved her even when she broke their hearts. Thank you to the God who whispered love and grace over her while she cried over another break up, and who gently put her back together piece by piece when she couldn’t hold it together anymore.
Thank you for letting me share my story.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, (s)he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17