Throughout the past few weeks I have been in a transitional phase as I move from one journey and on to the next. Every time I have been at a point like this, where one chapter ends and I am ready to move on to the next, I realize how emotional I become. It’s not all bad emotions, as far as what type I experience. In fact, I experience a whole spectrum of feelings. It’s funny because I usually go from one extreme to the next. For example, over the last few weeks I have felt confident, but also inadequate. I have felt joyful, but also dismal. I have felt strong and then weak. I have felt happy and then I have felt sad. I have felt completely loved and I have felt completely unwanted. Because I experience emotions at their extreme, when I go from the positive to the negative it feels like I have fallen off the tallest mountain and into the deepest ocean.
Can you relate?
As I continue on this journey with Christ I find that Satan likes to mingle his way into the moments that I feel the strongest in an attempt to bring me to my weakest. What I mean is, when all seems to be going well and I feel completely in-step with the Spirit, I start to feel the opposite of all the positive emotions I was experiencing.
In this time of change that I am experiencing I have felt so qualified for the task that the Lord has appointed me to, but, just like clockwork, I began to second guess myself and whether or not God could truly use a broken, messed-up sinner like myself.
(I have shared snapshots of my story here and there throughout my posts, but you can find most of it on this site in the “About Me” section, as well as in a post I titled “Stille Nacht”)
Much of my story takes place growing up in a typical United Methodist Church setting, attending youth group, singing in the choir and praise team, and serving in anyway I could. All my life, up through my senior year of high school, my friends referred to me as the “goodie goodie Christian girl”. However, things changed when a man in uniform stepped into my life at the age of 17 years old. In just two weeks time I met this soldier on leave, went on our first date, kissed, and committed to being his girlfriend and all of this took place right before he left to be stationed in South Korea for the entire year.
Our relationship was mostly Facebook messages, shipping boxes with gifts in them, and video chat. As the girlfriend of an Army Soldier, there are certain “unspoken expectations” that exist that I was completely unaware of. The guy I was dating at the time would say things like “if you love me you will do this (insert any number of things)” and if I didn’t concede he would then inform me that “all the other girlfriends do these things for their boyfriends”.
Bottom line is, video chat eventually became something I despised doing with him because the person on the other end would only talk to me or really take interest in me if I looked a certain way, wore specific clothing and did the random tasks appointed to me. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t talk to me. It never mattered how my day was unless I showed I cared by doing what he wanted. It never mattered that I was uncomfortable with what was being asked of me because this was what “all the girlfriends were doing”.
After a year and a half and several different break-ups we eventually ended it once and for all with a phone call from him on my 19th birthday telling me that I had to choose between him or God. I have never been so thankful for the choice that I made that day. God rescued me in that moment and brought me back to him. He guided me back onto the path that leads to eternal life.
However, even though God saved me from a very toxic relationship and pointed me back in the direction to the cross, the path to recovery wasn’t an easy one. There were a lot of bad habits I had accumulated from my relationship with my ex as well as a very warped view of how love is received.
It took years for me to realize that God’s love wasn’t like that of my ex’s. God’s love doesn’t have to be earned. It is UNCONDITIONAL. The day I realized this was the day I slowly began my road to freedom.
Time and time again, satan would weave lies in my head as I tried to break through the bondage of my past. As I began to serve in the ministry field things only got worse. I would break down because I didn’t feel qualified. I felt too dirty and stained to be sharing the gospel. I felt to weak to be strong for others.
If I am being honest there are moments that I still experience these emotions and hear these lies, but what God has revealed to me in these last few weeks has allowed me to experience VICTORY through Christ!
You see, sin + shame = sin. However, sin + grace = grace
If we fall short (which, FYI, will happen because we are still humans, even after we accept Christ) and we begin to dwell on what we have done we allow shame to dominate our thoughts and emotions. Shame will only lead you back into sin. The more we beat up on ourselves the more satan is going to do so as well.
BUT VICTORY IS POSSIBLE FRIENDS! Our God is a God of mercy and endless grace! When we fall short we don’t have to bear it alone, because Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice when He was nailed to the cross and we are now able to be in union with God once more. REPENT and PRAY VICTORY into your weaknesses because “Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness!”
If you are experiencing shame and guilt from your past or repeated shortcomings, RUN TO CHRIST because He has VICTORY for you! Rest in this sweet truth today friends:
“Shame says that because I am flawed, I am unacceptable. Grace says that though I am flawed, I am cherished.”
Embrace His grace today!
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
So what will you do?
My advice: choose grace instead of shame, because grace wins every time.