Yesterday was the 7th Anniversary of when I moved to Maui. There’s something about anniversaries and landmarks that make a person feel more inclined toward reflection. Taking that combined with the fact that I am nearing my 30th birthday this May, here I sit, to give God the glory.
It was probably about 6 months ago I first heard the song, “Love Broke Thru” by Toby Mac. There’s these lyrics that I identified with in such a way that I felt like I needed to tell this story, and somehow this song was going to encourage me to do it. The following is a portion of the lyrics:
Yeah, I was all but lost in the moment
I was young and runnin’ wide open
It was just another summer night
Had to be the last thing on my mind
When love broke thru
You found me in the darkness
Wanderin’ thru the desert
I was a hopeless fool
Now I’m hopelessly devoted
My chains are broken
And it all began with You
When love broke thru
In May of 2009 is when love broke through to me. I was sitting out in my car, alone. Outside of Planned Parenthood. I went in because I knew I had contracted an STD.
Shame. Such shame. Without a doubt, my lowest moment. Feeling worthless. Who will want me now?
In those moments in my car that day, I heard from God like I had never heard before.
“I don’t desire you to feel this shame.”
“This is the result of sin.”
“This is why I desire sexual purity until marriage.”
These were the main things I felt that God was imparting to me. In those moments I told God that I would not have sex again until it was with my husband.
My next thought was that I was no where close to meeting a man that would understand that in the circle of friends I’d been in. My next thought was, I’m going back to church.
So let’s rewind. At the time of this experience in 2009, I had just turned 22 years old. But really to give the depth of the story I’d like to give a little more background of my life.
My parents had 5 children, I was the youngest of the 4 girls and 1 boy. I also have another half sister, but that’s another long rabbit trail I won’t get into here. We were raised up in the Lutheran and Presbyterian church our whole lives under our parents roof. I can remember feeling very secure knowing that God made me and loved me. I knew very simply that by faith in Jesus, who died for my sins, that I would have eternal life with God. I was a fearless little girl, since I certainly didn’t fear death, and I knew that I was purposed. My family gave me such a rich upbringing full of so much love. I really didn’t know hard times, anxiety was a foreign word to me. The biggest thing that bothered me my first 18 years was if my friends and I weren’t getting along perfectly. That being said, the first trial that tested my faith came when I was 7 years old. My parents had just gotten divorced and very shortly after my dad got diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in his 40’s. I remember the heaviness of finding out the news, and how my mom cried. Somehow, the heaviness didn’t touch me. I simply knew that God was in control.
Our family was not the kind of family that actually read the Bible. Now, excuse me if my parents were reading it on their own at different seasons, but I personally don’t remember anyone ever opening a Bible with me outside of a church. I was in church for Sunday school, then church service, and then always on Wednesday nights. I also went to Vacation Bible Schools and later from 5th grade to 8th grade I went every summer to a Presbyterian church camp, overnight for 5 days. In 10th grade I got confirmed in the Lutheran church. I kept going on Sundays only then for the remainder of my years in high school.
For the most part, I really did like going to church events. I grew up in Minnesota and South Dakota, and honestly it seemed like everyone went to church. Of course, I can remember a couple of times when my mom bribed me and my brother to stay when we threatened we were going to walk out and go home. One time we got half way home when we realized 5 dollars sounded really nice, so we walked back and sat through the rest of church.
When I graduated high school and moved away, I stopped going to church.
I kind of always had it in the back of my mind that I ‘should’ go to church, but I certainly had a lot of other things going on, and it wasn’t a priority.
I remember very well my 20th year, and I decided I really ought to get to church for an Easter service. I was living in downtown San Diego at the time, and I didn’t have a car. I didn’t even know what church I would go to, but I called a cab to pick me up around 9 am and I asked him to drop me off at the church up the road. I knew there were a couple of them close by so I went to whatever one started closest to when I got dropped off. It was a very old congregation. Visually all I remember was seeing alot of white haired old people. But on a heart level, wow. Sitting there that Easter Sunday, at 20 years old, I finally realized why Christians celebrate Easter. It is the day we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. He came back to life. The tomb was empty. Death could not hold him. He overcame sin. He overcame death, so that we could too. I actually sat there and wept. I was so overcome with emotion.
It is hard for me to understand how I went to church all those years growing up, yet the best part of Easter had been the combination of time spent with family, good food, and lots of candy. It had always been just another holiday.
Something changed that day. God gave me a little bit more understanding. But just a little bit.
I can’t remember if it was before or after that Easter Sunday, but around that time I had a brief (3 wks) relationship with a guy who my good friend had set me up with. He was nice and cute, and we hit it off. But he was a passionate evolutionist. He would talk about his passion for evolution and I just didn’t connect because of the gap in our worldviews. I told him it wasn’t going to work out because I was a Christian, and I didn’t believe what he believed. He told me he didn’t understand why that should bother me, and that he didn’t have a problem with my beliefs, in fact, he wanted to know, why did I believe what I believed? He genuinely wanted to know.
I had nothing. I didn’t know. I’d never even read the Bible, how could I have an answer?
I had just always believed…and felt that the faith my parents passed down to me was true. But in the face of an actual discussion with a person of opposing worldview, I realized it wasn’t something I even knew how to discuss.
So I did break it off; even after that he gave me an adorable mixed CD and told me he was happy to talk again if I wanted to.
Immediately after, I got my Bible out, my brown leather encased bible that I had kept from the Lutheran church when I got confirmed, that I had actually moved with me all the way to San Diego.
I decided I would read my Bible. I had plenty of time because I was taking public transit at the time. I figured it would also be good for warding off some of the strangers and very strange conversations that can tend to happen on public transit in a big city. Especially with a friendly, naive, very blond girl with a very unique haircut.
I only got about 400 pages in…that means Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus…and who knows how much farther. It gets a little hard to understand for awhile, a lot of details for sure. For a 20 year old with a lot going on, I didn’t stick with it. I will say, though, I read about the creation story and I learned for the first time that God created the woman out of the rib of Adam, while he was asleep. I remember learning that God put the rainbow in the sky for the first time as a covenant promise to tell Noah he would never flood the earth again. I read the story of the first people and it was riveting. If there’s one gift God has given me, it is faith. I didn’t doubt the Words, not a bit. I only couldn’t believe I’d never read the story of Genesis before.
It would be another two years of life before I came back to that Bible, and to church.
That’s where the story gets really vulnerable.
During those two years I had a series of relationships with a handful of men. I’m not sure how to put it, because I know a lot of the details don’t matter. It’s what was happening to my heart that mattered. I was giving it away, my heart, believing that another person was supposed to make me whole by giving me their whole heart. It makes my heart clench up to even reflect on these past relationships.
I loved so freely. But don’t misunderstand, not freely as in to more than one person at a time. Never. My heart doesn’t work that way. When I was with a person, I was with that person wholeheartedly. To a fault. To the point that that person became my God. To the point that I would sacrifice my everything; body, time, choices.
By the tender age of 22, I’d had more than a few deeply painful rejections from men whom I loved.
It was hard to understand how someone could reject me when there’s nothing I wouldn’t have given, and the relationship just seemed so good.
But God had a different plan.
Around my 22nd birthday I hooked up with a guy I barely knew, and certainly didn’t love. I was trying so hard to be impossible to reject, to the point I would give it all up in less than a couple weeks. It was at that point I ended up outside of Planned Parenthood, alone in my car, when God reminded me how badly He wanted me.
I sat down today, February 28th, 2018, to journal and have some time alone with the Lord and listen to a sermon online. I started to write about how thankful I am to be celebrating 8 years since moving to Maui today. Like I said in the first paragraph of this blog, one year ago, anniversaries can give cause for reflection. As I was sitting with the Lord, it came to me that maybe I should finish my testimony blog today and share it…
I knew I had started this blog awhile back…and as I signed into my account tonight and began reading, I realize I wrote this story out one year ago, and intended to share it then. For some reason I couldn’t share it yet. It’s hard to share personal stories and sometimes the thought that it doesn’t really matter wins out, so I waited. But tonight felt like a confirmation to just get this story out there.
Do you know how badly God wants your whole heart?
God promises He made all for a relationship with Him, and it will be the only way to satiate every need and desire that is in us, we were created with eternity in our hearts. No matter how many good things you have or do in this life, if you find yourself still searching, I am here to tell you I found all the love my heart was looking for in seeking Jesus for the rest of my life.
Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.