It’s funny how many times I have uttered the phrase, “they’ll never change”. The hypocrisy of those words are not lost on me, considering the number of times that I have changed. From the way I dress, to my hobbies and interests, my values and beliefs and even the music I listen to, I have been a chameleon. I would morphe into someone new based on my surroundings. Ever the people pleaser, desperate to fit in, I would do and say things that would later make me hate myself. The need for acceptance, approval and validation has taken me down some ugly roads. Trauma does that. Pain does that. Past hurts can certainly change a person, whether it’s putting up walls or just following the crowd, it’s easy to get lost. There was a time when I welcomed absolute chaos and self-harm to numb the truths of my current existence. No good has ever come from that; until now because I’ve been changed by love.
We’re so hard on ourselves. I believe there were times when I hated myself enough for everyone. I often believed I was too far gone to even matter. But then something started happening in my heart. I became very aware of the void in my life. I realized that as much as therapy has helped me, it wasn’t enough and as much as alcohol distracted me, it was a temporary fix that would end in more emptiness. I needed something permanent. I was desperate to feel loved, but a real love now. Not the kind that would be gone in the morning. It was imperative for me to know that I had value. And then it hit me. I have spent my whole life looking in all the wrong places. Everything I was doing was obviously NOT working. It dawned on me that I had been carrying this key around with me since 2003, I just never used it. I knew I had it, I just didn’t know how powerful it was. Thankfully, other people knew and they were praying that I would take hold of it and finally free myself.
And so, I did! I began talking to God more than I ever have. I held nothing back (because honestly, what’s the point?) and had some real, raw and sometimes brutal conversations. I can say it was a conversation because the more I reached for Him, the more I heard Him answer. The more I shared with Him, the more He worked on me. I began to pray each and every day that God would remove any roadblocks that were being placed in my way to keep me from hearing Him. Everyone hears Him in a different way and for me, it was like a stamped imprint that I could feel in my gut. This morning, for example, I bent down to grab my coffee and the word “ENOUGH” was placed on me. I knew exactly what God was saying to me because I had been praying about it for so long. Enough with the self-hate. Enough with the shame and guilt from the past. We are all made in the image of God, created by God. Who am I to condemn myself? Who am I to insult God by insinuating He made a mistake with me? God makes no mistakes and God is the only judge. Shame on me for being so harsh to His perfect creation, for so long. All of this was placed on my heart and I felt like shouting “Hallelujah!”
I accepted Jesus 18 years ago. For all those years, I would only pray to Him when things were really bad. I never took advantage of the gift He was offering me and at times, I felt very guilty about that. Until He said, “I will take you any way that I can get you”. If that doesn’t sum up God’s love for us, I don’t know what does! This is how loved I am. This is how loved His children are. I envision Jesus on the cross and it breaks my heart. He was thinking of you and me. We will never be able to comprehend His amazing love for us. How could the things of this world ever matter to me more than Him? My problems are just a drop in the ocean. No longer can I put more weight on the opinions of others, than the opinion of God. No longer can my shame and guilt take up so much space in my heart that it pushes Jesus out. Everything here is temporary but what’s eternal is God and the gift of forever with Him if we only believe.
None of us are ever too far gone, or too guilty to be loved and restored by Jesus. In fact, the more broken you are, the more Jesus desires to set up shop right in your heart! He wants to use our damaged pieces for good. He wants nothing more than to make us whole again. He wants to use our testimonies to help someone else find their light. Every single day, we have the chance to be new. His blood was shed so that no matter what we did, we could still be white as snow. We only need to hand over our baggage to Him. When we give Him our worries and shame and guilt, He rejoices that we trust Him that much. He gladly takes it from us and destroys it. That dead weight is not meant for us to carry. It won’t give us a happy life or peace of mind. Only God can do that! Those worthless words, (guilty, dirty, shameful, despicable, etc) are not from God. But He can free us from them and He wants to!
I often think of the adulteress woman, whom the Pharisees brought before Jesus. They wanted to stone her, possibly to death! She was embarrassed and ashamed, hanging her head low. Jesus refused to condemn her. In fact, He said, “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”. There was no one without sin and so they left her alone. However, when she looked up, there stood Jesus. He is the only sinless one. He will never forsake us. He is always with us. He was the only person who could have thrown a stone and He did not. It is so easy to judge people for the same sins that we are guilty of. No one can give us a clean slate but Jesus, so why are we so worried about the judgment of others?
Now I see that we are all constantly changing. Sometimes change means growth and other times pain holds us back, locking us up in a bitter place. It’s easy to barricade the heart once it’s been broken. But Jesus came to heal the crushed spirit. He runs after those who are broken. Can you see how incredible this is? He died for me. He died for you. He holds the key to our chains. He IS the key to our chains. He is the freedom we’ve been so desperate for. “ENOUGH” he says. It’s time to drop the chains. Your struggle will not be in vain. It will be a miraculous testimony. And if we should ever fall again, we know that Jesus will be right there, as many times as needed because He chose us. It is the greatest honor we will ever be given. Thank you Jesus for being the key that removes our chains. We are clothed in salvation. We are free.