Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen several of the young ladies I used to teach at church. It was a 5th and 6th grade girls class, and now those 5th and 6th graders are getting a drivers license, going to prom, graduating from high school, well, you get the picture.
They all seem to be doing well. Some of them have moved on to other churches, but they seem to have stayed true to their faith. And I am so thankful. I remember praying that they’re journey of faith would be different than my own.
I remember as a 4 year old, asking Jesus to forgive me of my sins. I was in children’s church, my mom was teaching, I was wearing a red dress, and I remember kneeling in front of my cold metal folding chair with tears down my cheek. I may have been little, but I knew that I wanted Jesus.
Unfortunately, somewhere after that, I got off track. My Christian faith was about a long list of do’s and don’ts instead of having a relationship with Christ. I had an internal list where I ranked sin from not so bad to horrible, and as long as I stayed on the not so bad side, I was alright. It made me very critical of others, and lacking in love. I could have made a very good Pharisee back in Bible times.
By the time I got to high school, my faith was more of a routine than anything. I struggled with my self worth because I was trying to create it in all the wrong places instead of in the One who created me. So when a guy came along who promised the sun, moon, and stars, I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. It was a messy couple of years, and along the way, I ended up giving too much of myself away. Most people saw me as this little goody two shoes with everything going for her. By the time I graduated high school, I was salutatorian, class president, a cheerleader, had perfect attendance in Sunday School (for like 3 years running), and I was voted typical teen, I think, for senior superlatives.
I worked really hard to hide the mess on the inside.
I felt so much shame over the bad choices I had been hiding. I was pretty fantastic about going through the routine of being a Christian without ever really interacting with God. And then one day…
One day, my quiet, reserved older brother asked me if I was stupid, in the nicest way possible. He asked me if I really thought that the mess I had created was the path that God had planned for me, wanted for me. As a freshman in college, I gave my life back to Christ. This time, understanding that life with Christ was a relationship with Christ, not a rule book with weights and scales included. Even though I made a new commitment, the guilt didn’t immediately go away. It took a long time for me to accept that God had fully forgiven the choices I made. What I had ruined, God restored.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
We never know what kind of mess someone else is struggling with. Today is a good day to be restored, to be kind, to show love, to be made new.