I would love to say I’ve always walked with God, never backslid, or taken the wrong course but that's not how the story goes. My storms rolled me in.
I grew up in a religious family and in the Catholic school system but found myself spiritually wandering as an adult. Now that I'm growing in my nondenominational church home, enlightened by counseling, and progressing on my faith walk, it is very evident that the reasons I failed to feel or hear God is because I distanced myself.
I thought I was in control, took sole credit for my blessings, and many times put myself first and God fourth. I was so focused on being praised that I neglected to praise God and got caught up in the world instead of wisdom. It's said that pride comes before the fall, and I fell hard. Broken into pieces, I began to cut myself and anyone else who walked upon my shards. After unsuccessfully trying to fix myself and on the verge of loss, I realized the only one who could put me back together was the one who created me.
It was easier to praise God when everything was great, I was winning, and I felt on top of the world. It was a totally different experience whenever I called to God in the midst of everything going wrong, my life seemed consumed by chaos, and felt I'd hit rock bottom. My prayers then came from a need, dependence and longing for guidance because He was my only place of refuge, strength, and protection. It was not only a profound movement that took place, but one that changed me with every step I took.
God knew the meaning and depth of every tear I cried, every mistake I ever made, the weight of every burden, and what I needed whenever I didn’t even know myself. He loved me when I couldn't love myself, and guided me whenever pain wouldn't permit me to see my next move. Instead of taunting and deeming me worthless, He put me back together and held me. All those years I tried to fill my voids but felt empty was simply because He was the only one meant to fit. Only He could satisfy that hunger I had, heal my spiritual and psychological ails, and be my source of strength.
Externally, it's relatively easy to move on from situations and shortcomings, but spiritually detaching is a different story. Replaying failed scenarios, feeding into negative self talk, and condemning myself created an overwhelming weight of shame. It felt the world was calling me a sinner who was not capable of achieving or living out my purpose because of my imperfections, weaknesses, past iniquities, and fear. The world marks and discards people on the basis of where they've been and magnifies downfalls without regard of the good people have done or are capable of doing. God does the opposite. God looks at the whole picture, addresses the roots, and knows the heart, intentions, and mind of each person. He looks at it all and says Look how far we’ve come but we can't stop here.
The thought of redemption and progress was great, but the act of analyzing all the roads I'd ever taken, advice I'd naively given, and pains I ever experienced made me wish I had memory loss. I loved the the spiritual growth, the lessons I was learning, and the relationship that was blossoming but I couldn't help but turn my shame into deep regret and guilt because I wished I had surrendered, accepted, and humbled myself sooner. Though I can't go back into time and take back the days I sulked in the valleys of the past, I now know that I can overcome any mountains I can encounter in the future. The compass of my life doesn't have a face and can't be held, but constantly orders my steps in the right direction.
The closer I grew to Him, the more my life, environment, and priorities started to change. I started losing friends, the desire to entertain or address certain things, and the need to be accepted by everyone. Whenever I began to seek His word and plan and slowly let go of the things that were concerning me so much, the more I understood that living my life as a people pleaser hurt me, doing things to please myself hurt others, but only good things came from doing something of God. I should be less concerned about others understanding and accepting me, and more focused on my assignment.
Some can’t seem to fathom the impact until they experience the renewal themselves, and that’s okay. I didn’t receive the message or understand the necessity of renewal of mind and spirit until it was my time to. However, don’t ever think I will go backwards or hinder my progress or relationship with God because someone’s discomfort or inability to understand my conversion.I will follow Him, even if I’m the only one. He has authority over my life, soul, spirit, relationships, marriage, future children, and purpose; no person, spirit, or word has that power. If someone wants to keep me at a level I’ve been delivered from, stifle my growth, or attack me for my beliefs then they have to be left behind.
As my eyes open and faith grows, I'm learning to accept that every step and stumble served a purpose. You can allow the mess and mayhem to turn you into a monster or surrender and let that pain act as motivation to let Him mold your mess into a masterpiece. People will say what they want, laugh, judge, sit in disbelief and think whatever they want, but once you experience deliverance, nothing else seems to matter.
I've come a long way and don't ever want to go back. After He carried and loved me through the storms of my life, I know His power and that He's worthy to be glorified. I've done, allowed, and said things in my life that I'm ashamed of, but making the choice to follow God is not one of them. I’m not ashamed to say how much I love and depend on God, how much I need Jesus, and how empty my life was before versus how satisfied I am now. I'm a fraction of the person I once was but more whole than I've ever been. I'm saved by grace and motivated by mercy. I am new.