I tell my story because I have to. I feel the need to reach out to others and provide some hope where it might be lost.
Even though I share this journey for any one in the world to see, my story has not been an easy one to tell. Some posts led me down agonizing hallways of memory. God led me through those dark days, and, in writing these posts, I’ve discovered more ways He guided me than I ever realized before.
Through it all, God was with me.
My awareness of this didn’t happen overnight. It happened over many years, one step at a time.
My first awakening to the truth came during a singles retreat. Our speaker taught from Ecclesiastes. I listened to this man’s teaching unaware of what was to come. I wish I could tell you the verses that hit me in the gut, the passage that changed my world, but I can’t.
One moment, I was fine, a person in the crowd, the next, an overwhelming awareness engulfed me. God could love me in spite of the stains on my life. I was worthy of His love and forgiveness.
I can point to many reasons why I didn’t understand this before. The first, and most obvious, stems from those who first taught me salvation. They preached living right. They told me God was not a respecter of persons (whatever that means). In the next breath, they told me no one can be perfect, but we have to try to be, but we will never succeed. They described to me a vengeful God. One who wanted our perfection and punished us if we didn’t make the grade. Their understanding of salvation missed the boat. They saw Him sitting in judgment of our failures.
Is there any wonder that I didn’t think my life worthwhile? How could I ever measure up?
Yes, we should strive to live as Christ. No, we will never succeed. That’s the point. They missed it.
When this point hit me, I ran out of the session. It didn’t take long for the singles minister to follow me. I’ll never forget how he sat down on the curb beside me, a look of concern on his face. I tried to tell him, through my tears, what I felt. He nodded, then first told me he had been keeping a close eye on two other single moms in the crowd, aware of the emotional trauma they had experienced. He never thought to watch me. He never suspected how I felt. I had become so good at being present without grace that no one knew my struggle. (This is one reason my story amazed so many people when I started sharing it.)
We talked for a while and then again later. But I had the most important piece of the puzzle: I could be blameless and whole before God. I would screw up, but I could have the salvation I wanted. I could have grace. I just needed to seek to do His will and accept His grace when I fell.