It’s always a challenge for me to know what to say or write, when it comes down to sharing my testimony. The problems I always come across are figuring out exactly how much detail is appropriate to share with my audience, whether or not to include the lessons learned from my experiences or to keep it fact-based only, and whether or not to engage with the response of my audience. One thing about speaking with people in different formats or platforms, people are indeed more considerate face-to-face than online; and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get some backlash for what I’m about to share.
One of the things I always have to remind myself, in regards to my testimony is that this is about who I once was and how God has changed me, and brought me from one point in my life to where I am now. I’ve dealt with my past, have repented and turned towards my heavenly Father, and I know that He’s forgiven me. So, no matter what others think about me or what I’ve done, I know who I am in Christ and that “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…” (Ephesians 1:7-8).
As mentioned in my about me page, I grew up in a Christian home. My parents, who’d grown up in Catholic households, were married in September of 1983, had me in August of ‘84, and 2 years after my birth, became born-again believers, thanks to a godly couple who were obedient to the call to share the gospel with a young military couple. I often think about how the obedience of one or two has a ripple effect on the lives of others including future generations, but that’s a topic for another time.
From this point on, I was in the church. I learned about who Jesus was, what He’d done for me, and I’d accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior. I requested to be baptized around age 10 or 11 and continued in my obedience until my senior year of high school. What began to change was what so often happens to young women at that age…
I began dating rather late compared to today’s culture; having my first boyfriend at age 17. I don’t know whether this was a good or bad thing, but I know now, looking back, that this was the beginning of what would be a long journey. I got caught up in that first relationship and lost focus of what really mattered–my relationship with Christ–even going so far as to provoke my sexuality and overstep boundaries, if ever so slightly. There’s a reason why the Song of Songs says repeatedly not to awaken love until the time is right (Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Once you awaken that desire or passion, it’s nearly impossible to put it back in its place…on your own.
That first relationship didn’t last very long, but when it ended I was heartbroken. I’d tasted more than I should have and a feeling of emptiness and longing began to overwhelm me. Instead of controlling it or handing it over to God, as I should have, I allowed it to control me; and not long after that relationship had ended, a new one began. This one was most certainly not God-centered, and boundaries were basically non-existent. The sad part was that I knew what I was doing was wrong and yet I continued; repenting in church on Sunday and going right back to my ungodly lifestyle the rest of the week.
This relationship ultimately ended, as well, and that’s when things rocketed downhill. Urged on to fill the emptiness and longings of my heart, I became involved in relationship after relationship. Having lost my virginity to a complete stranger, I convinced myself to believe a lie to comfort myself and rationalize my behavior…The world pushes this idea of sexual freedom and independence for women. However, the truth is sexual freedom and independence is what keeps us enslaved as women. The true power in our sexuality comes in withholding sex until marriage; until God sends the one He’s intended for us to be with forever. Men won’t respect us or see us as anything but things to be used if we don’t respect ourselves and hold on to that power. Again, there’s so much more I can say in this matter, but that’s for another time.
Ultimately, my lifestyle produced something precious, although, I didn’t see it as such at the time. In 2005 I found myself pregnant. For so long I’d been hiding my sin, but now it would come to light for the world to see. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden, I was ashamed and hid myself from God. Determined to remain “unseen” I made excuses about what was best for me and made a choice that would haunt me forever; a choice that was never mine to begin with; a choice originating from fear, shame, and selfishness. I had an abortion. One of the many things that no one tells you about having an abortion are the emotional repercussions. If I’d had a deep-seated depression and emptiness before that moment, it was quadrupled afterwards.
I could continue talking about the consequences of my poor choices and decisions for days, but I’d rather talk about how God opened my eyes and drew me to His side; how He called me out of darkness and handed me a new life, freedom, and the love that I was so desperately in search of. In December 2009 I moved to Virginia, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit (yes, He’d still been working on me, even though I chose to walk in sin). Sitting on the bedroom floor of my parent’s house in 2010, God reminded me of a promise He’d made so long ago to the Israelites, which still rings true for all who believe:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity…” (Jeremiah 29:11-14, emphasis added).
Most people are familiar with verse 29:11, but it was verses 12-14 that drew me to my knees in repentance and recommitment. Recalling all that I’d done, the choices I’d made, the innocent life I’d taken, and yet knowing that God still had a plan for my life, if only I’d turn to Him and seek Him with all my heart! God’s word says that Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and that He died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6-8) and I know that includes me…just as it includes you!
I’ve broken so many of God’s commandments; I’ve lied, murdered, committed idolatry (by placing men before God), coveted, and have been rebellious and self-centered but “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21)! I believe that and I put my faith in Christ and my life hasn’t been the same. As I look back over my past sins and failures I’m reminded that although God no longer holds them against me, the experiences and wisdom gained have not been in vain and—going back to Jeremiah 29:11—have a purpose.
It took a long time for God to heal me of my self-destructive behavior and the consequences thereof. There was once a time when every relationship I observed made me bitter and jealous; a time when I couldn’t stand to be around babies or young children without feeling broken and ashamed; and for a long time I saw myself as unworthy to be loved by another. But God is our healer and over time He helped me see that I am beautifully made in His image and that His grace and mercy has forgiven and washed all my sin, making me spotless in His sight. Therefore, I choose to walk in His commands! There’s a reason why this Blog is called brokenredeemed. It’s because I was utterly broken and beyond repair, but He redeemed me through the shedding of His blood; He saved me and paid a debt that I could never pay and for that I am eternally grateful.
If you have never made the choice to follow Christ, don’t let your past decisions and lifestyle choices keep you from drawing near to Him! He died for you because He loves you, not because of anything you’ve done or haven’t done. You’re not reading this by accident; it’s by divine appointment that He’s drawn you to my page. Make the choice to follow Him and your life, like mine, will never be the same.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)