*Warning- this might get ugly. There is a lot of personal information about me, but if you make it through to the end (sorry, its pretty lengthy), you will find a story of love and repentance.
I recently had the opportunity to go back to my hometown to walk around, find comfort in seeing familiar faces, and enjoy the annual festival that gets me so excited year after year… but I turned down the opportunity. I had a great deal of stress over deciding whether or not to go because I was afraid of a few things- seeing “friends” that have become strangers, facing the things that I’ve let go of but for so long I had let define me, but primarily I was afraid of being mistaken for the person that I used to be.
To understand my decision as to why I do not want to be mistaken for the person I used to be I must first describe who I was. (Heads up- this was one of the lower points of my life) I’ll paint the picture by describing myself and my actions exactly one year ago at the festival: I had been shopping all week for the perfect outfit. Although I was extremely miserable with the 180 pounds of shame and discontentment I carried around, I spent an awful lot of time on my appearance to at least give the impression that I had some remnant of worth or beauty somewhere in there. I spent a lot of time that day trying to impress people I knew did not care about me. I spent the day drinking as much beer as I could get my hands on, after all that was the right of passage of my generation- drinking all day then spending money to get into a large fenced in area with beer and live music while standing out in the cold. Why did I feel so much excitement and anticipation to get to this moment? Why was I was feeling so disappointed after it was all over and my wildest dreams of feeling satisfied failed to come true? My disillusionment was rooted in the overwhelming feeling of not fitting in despite my best efforts- oh, and throwing up. I felt pretty disappointed that my despite my rigid training of fitting in, I still couldn’t handle my alcohol. That’s the ugly truth of how I used to define myself: spending every effort to please others and attempting to fit in. (Which is the opposite of how I live now; I am referring to being “set apart”, as stated in 2 Timothy 2:21)
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”
But the people in my town, they do not know that I have changed into the person that ya’ll know today- the one who greets you at church or leads your small group- basically the polar opposite of the new creation God has made.
Back to the present… I feared seeing people (how they would define me since I quit the teaching program at CNU) and potentially running into my ex-boyfriend. Why? I thought I was over all that mess! Thank God that I felt persistence to seek the truth. Although it has been almost a year since that relationship ended, I was still holding on to him emotionally. No, he no longer frequents my thoughts nor do I have any desire for reconciliation, but I did realize that I had not taken back my heart from him yet. Although I have spent so much time praying for God to take and seal my heart for my future husband, I have failed to actually give it all to Him. Rather, I realize that I have been waiting for someone to come along to fulfill me emotionally. God revealed to me that I would never find someone who could do that because only Jesus is able to do that.
I felt like such a hypocrite this past Saturday when I was preaching to my friend about the love of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Later that day when I revisited that passage, God spoke to me through it. When I asked God what was it that was truly keeping me from facing my fears, His response to me was the same as it was to her.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14) I had been seeking things of the world to quench my thirst.
So I promised a story of love and repentance. The beautiful love that I receive from my Heavenly Father is almost more than I can handle. His love has delivered me from who I used to be. Hallelujah! Pastor Shaun always illustrates repentance as stopping in your tracks, doing a complete 180, and proceeding in the new direction that should be toward Christ. Yes, I do claim that I have repented from my former lifestyle. No, I am not prepared to give full detail of my sins, nor do I feel any obligation to do so, but know that Jesus entered my heart and I felt convictions for who I had been. The beauty lies at the foot of the cross of my Savior. He met me at my worst and placed value in me by bestowing upon me a new identity, which I humbly strive to live up to. I am someone who has miserably failed, but I repented and I now pursue purity with eagerness and passion.