Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grace



For weeks I've been staring at this blank screen, trying to figure out just how exactly I'm going to put into words everything that I want to say. There is so much I feel like I need to get out yet I know that now isn't the time to start writing the story of my life, because if I'm not careful, this blog would turn into a full blown novel, with MANY chapters. So instead, I'm going to write about the chapter that I'm currently in for a few reasons:







1. This is for those who maybe don't quite understand how I got to the place that I'm currently in and instead of having them try to guess or talk amongst themselves trying to 'figure me out' and how I could ever do the things I've done, I would rather just be real and honest about my life so they don't have to create their own theories. Granted, that being said, I know that there are certain people out there who will have their opinions, beliefs, or judgments, no matter what and I won't hold it against them. Because I used to be just like them. This isn't about pointing fingers and I certainly don't want this to be about judgment. I just genuinely want people who may be closed off to grace, for whatever reason (and we all have them because we live in such a broken world), for them to maybe, just maybe be open to changing their opinion or way of looking at my situation or situations like mine.

2. This is for those who have lovingly encouraged me to talk about my life and my experiences. I think of the story in the Bible where the adultress woman is about to be stoned and Jesus has compassion on her and forgives her and says to the people eager to start throwing their stones, that whoever has no sin in their life can be the first one to start throwing. Naturally, they all walk away and the woman is saved. Without a doubt I have felt like that woman, and have seen and felt Jesus' compassion and forgiveness for me through my amazing family and friends that have circled around me and have protected me from the 'stones' that people have wanted to throw. It is because of them and Jesus working through them, that I am able to write what I'm writing today. I know that I made a mistake. But I also know that I am forgiven and given another chance. Grace, acceptance, and love are powerful things. Life changing things. They are actions that I hope to freely give back to everyone I meet, because I know the impact it has had on my life and how vital it is to feel those things. To those who have circled around me...thank you from the bottom of my heart.







3. Most importantly, this is for anyone who feels like they have drifted too far to be saved. It's for those who feel hopeless, not good enough, not righteous enough, simply not good enough. For those who haven't been shown the grace and mercy and love that I so generously have been. For anyone who needs HOPE or to know that it's not too late for them, too, to be forgiven...no matter what it is they've done or how many times they have felt like they have returned to God, only to turn their back on Him yet again. With the exception of not being show grace and mercy from those around me, I have felt all those emotions. I know that my story is just another story, but believe me when I say I was hopeless beyond comprehension and had completely written myself as a complete failure who could just never get it right. But I'm writing this today, as someone who truly accepts herself and the forgivness that God so freely gives. I have regrets, but I no longer dwell on them and live in the past of what I should or shouldn't have done. I am free from things I never dreamed that would be possible. I am a person who despite what my situation may be, remains hopeful because I know that God has been faithful to carry me through every battle and difficulty I've had to walk through, and I trust He will be there this time too. Has it been easy? No. Have I wanted to just stay down at times after I've stumbled yet again? Yes. Has been getting back up each time to keep fighting been worth it? Yes. Does healing happen overnight? Not in my case. But I'm grateful for that because otherwise I wouldn't have become the person I am today. I remember reading in one of my many Beth Moore books once that God is far more concerned with developing our character than necessarily instantly removing whatever it is that we want removed. I've found that to be very true. So if you finish reading this, and don't remember anything I've written but this one thing, that's ok. God loves and adores you and NOTHING will ever cause Him to stop. His grace, love, and forgiveness is just as much for you as it is for anybody else. No matter what people tell you, I know this to be true. He just wants you to turn to Him and let him carry you through what you're going through rather than trying to do it all on your own strength. Easier said than done, I know. But we aren't strong enough without Him...I've proved that over and over in my life. Please don't get me wrong. My intention isn't to preach at all. It is solely to share a part of my story and hopefully share some hope with you.







4. Lastly, this is for my precious, sweet baby girl who I can't wait to meet in a few short months. She deserves to be loved and accepted as much as any other child of God. And I will spend everyday that God blesses me with her to show her how incredibly loved and special she is and that God has a plan for her life far beyond anything I could ever imagine.







So yes, for those who do not know yet, I am 6 months pregnant with a baby girl. But let's back the story up...

But this is not about me...yes what I'm about to write is part of my story, but most importantly, it is about the amazing and unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, my savior, whom without, I would be lost, desperate, and hopeless.






After spending over a year in Edmonton, at the beginning of June of this past year, I stood up in front of a crowd of people, some strangers, some friends, and my amazing parents who had flown out to Edmonton to be there. It was a type of 'graduation' ceremony for a group of people (including myself) who had just completed an intensive 9 month, Christian 12 step course. The reasons that brought me there were many...but that isn't crucial to the story. It was a hard, difficult, and at times, painful journey that had brought me to that night. I stood there and shared the hope and healing I had found over the past 9 months that I didn't think was ever possible. I talked about how the heavy weight of guilt and condemnation that I constantly carried around with me, was lifted and taken away, how the years of self hate and never feeling good enough, had been transformed to self acceptance, self forgiveness, and self love. It was truly a miracle. Demons I had fought for so long were finally gone and I felt FREE. Free to love, to live, and to be the person God created me to be. Was I perfect? FAR from it...I was still making mistakes, but I was growing, and every time I fell, I got back up, accepted Gods grace and forgiveness, and kept going. Needless to say, there were many happy tears shed that night. By myself and the people who have walked through these past few years with me. That was a great night. I was excited to be used by God and for him to use my story to share with others, to bring them hope, and to let them know that if I could be transformed, so could they. I was ready to move back home and let the world see the 'new' me. I was redeemed, remade, and free and couldn't wait to tell my friends and family who had always believed in me and never gave up. I was ready to be 'real,' little did I know, just how 'real' things would get or just how much more growing I had to do.

Within a week of being home and starting my new job, I found out that I was 5 weeks pregnant. I will never forget the emotions that swept over me as I stared down at that little stick that read, 'pregnant.' It couldn't be. This can't be happening. Obviously I knew it was a small possibility as I had mentioned before...I was still far from perfect and still struggled and made mistakes. 'God how could this be happening? " I had been reckless and careless in my past and this never happened, and now, when things are going so well and I'm truly changing and growing in you, I get pregnant. I felt like such a failure. A joke. A fraud. In that moment, everything that I stood up and said less than 3 weeks earlier was meaningless. God, how could I ever recover from this? Now everyone will think I didn't mean what I said, what you did in my life. But I DID mean it and you DID change me. My world stood still and I didn't know what I was going to do. Despite the million different thoughts racing through my head and my strong desire to deny what was happening, I was filled with this overwhelming love for this tiny baby (who for whatever reason, I felt was a girl) growing inside of me.

I didn't know how I was going to face everyone...I couldn't bear the thought of being a disappointment or having another 'mistake' in my life to define me. How could God use me now?

What was I going to do..

The first thing that I did was go to the two most important people in my life...my parents. Instantly my mom knew something was up and asked me what was wrong...I couldn't speak. I just broke down and sobbed. My dad heard the commotion and came over asking what was wrong. I just kept crying saying over and over how sorry I was. I finally blubbered out the words that I was pregnant, and got the most amazing reaction a parent could give their child with that kind of news. They didn't condemn, they didn't get angry, they didn't ask how this could happen. Rather, they held me and assured me that it would be ok. The assured me of their love for me and of God's love for me. In that moment...they showed me grace and love. They showed me Jesus. Their love and acceptance, gave me the courage to face this situation and a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, things would be ok. I know that their may be some people who are reading this who are thinking that their parents would never react that way and that could be true. I am aware that I am extremely blessed and fortunate to have the parents that I do. But to those who don't have that, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that even though your earthly parents may not accept you or your situation...God does and He always will. And there are amazing people in this world who God can use to show you his unconditional love, grace, and acceptance. Because I have been shown such grace in my life, it is my prayer that God can use me to extend that grace to those who need it. I used to be a very judgemental kind of person...one who looked down on others and couldn't possibly understand what would possess some people to make the choices that they made. While all along, I was just like them. I truly believe that I have gone through and experienced everything that I've gone through, in order that my heart be changed and my eyes opened to the fact that we are all the same. Sinners in need of a savior where no one person is better than another. The person who gossips about my situation and judges me for my choices without knowing the details, is no better than me being pregnant out of wedlock. Unfortunately, some Christians (not all) like to 'rank' sins, and for whatever reason, feel justified in judging someone who struggles with sexual sin since that is the worst one after all (sarcasm). At least one of the most scandalous.

The weeks that followed after telling my parents and having the reality of my situation sink in, were not easy. I struggled with depression and overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, disappointment in myself, and feelings of failure. I felt huge guilt for getting pregnant and struggling with wanting it, while I knew that there were people out there who have struggled for years to have a child or others who have lost a child way too soon. And here I make a selfish, reckless choice, and get pregnant. It just wasn't fair to those people. And to know that me being pregnant would cause them pain, was almost too great of a weight for me to bear. And then to think of people close to me with children and now they would have to explain to them why I was pregnant without being married. To those of you who are reading this and fall into one of these categories...I am truly, so sorry. Not only was I struggling with the desire to have a baby, but had other stresses to do with the situation going on as well. It all just felt like too much and I was losing all hope fast. And then I received an email...another person that God used to reach out to me and whisper His words of hope to my fading spirit. It was an email from a woman who I love and respect dearly...filled with words of hope, love, and grace. It had an attachment of promises from God's word in it...filled with my name in it. Promises of grace, forgiveness, restoration, and hope. It was just what I needed and God knew it. Encouraging words and songs were shared with me, and slowly over time, hope was restored. I realized that being pregnant didn't cancel out all the miracles that God did in my life over the past year. I was still that person who stood up in front of that crowd, a few months earlier.

And then it happened...I got to hear my precious baby's heartbeat for the first time and I fell in love all over again. In that moment it was real, and I felt true excitement for this new life growing inside of me. I was finally allowing myself to get excited about the baby, but as soon as I let myself get excited, the guilt and condeming voice would enter my head...'who do you think you are to be excited about this?' 'Don't you know you don't deserve to be happy and excited?' But I now recognize those to be lies from the enemy, and I choose not to listen or believe them anymore. It's not fair to my innocent baby...who is NOT a mistake, and who God has amazing plans for in this life.

So that brings us to today...I am 6 months pregnant with a baby girl who is currently moving around inside of me as I type. (She'll prob have lots to say just like her mom one day!) I still don't have a lot of answers and can get overwhelmed with thoughts of the future and what it will all look like. So instead, I am choosing to trust God and take it one day at a time. He has always been faithful in my life and has never left me, so I know He will do the same in this situation. I am extremely humbled by my situation, yet can live unashamed because of Christ's grace and mercy. I know there are people who have a hard time accepting my situation and that's ok. I am not living my life for them. I am living my life for the one who has saved me and desire nothing more than to be used to share God's message of hope and redemption for EVERYONE. No matter how far gone you might feel...it is never too late. This I can testify to.

So now when I hear the condeming voice saying 'who do you think you are?' I can answer with the truth...

I am a child of God. A sinner desperately in the need of grace. I am forgiven. I am loved. I am growing. I am deeply sorry for the hurt or disappointment I have caused. I am imperfect. I am scared at times. I am never alone. I am REDEEMED. I am GRATEFUL. I am being made new. I am someone who makes mistakes daily and utterly need Jesus Christ, for through him I can do all things. I am loved, accepted, forgiven, and cherished by God, who without Him, I am nothing.

I know my story doesn't end here...Lord willing, there are many more chapters to be written...but I'll end it at that for now. Thanks for reading.







"How marvelous, how wonderful and my song shall ever be,






How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love for me"