An Instruction Manual for life: Living it Out

Today I’m continuing a thought process that I began a couple weeks ago, you can find it HERE, HERE, and HERE. We’re talking about how to live a good life. So far, we’ve talked about the three things Jesus told us to do and we’ve talked about the 10 commandments and the great commission. 

Since we’ve been talking about how to live a good life, I want to share this good news with everyone. I’ve shared my redemption story in larger detail in my book published a couple years ago. I thought I’d share an abbreviated version here again. 

I grew up going to church with my grandmother. We’d all pile in her car on Sunday mornings. When I was about 5, I remember raising my hand to accept Jesus in Sunday School. When I was older, I’d get a ride to church from a young adult who lived near me. I’d hear the words, and I knew the stories. I had no instruction on what to do next, or that being a Christian was a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Spirit. But, I was still lost and alone.

My childhood was hard. My mother had her issues, we were poor, and my brother beat me up regularly. Many people don’t think a sibling beating the other up is abuse. But when one person is the aggressor and the other has no control, it’s abuse.

I attempted suicide in my early teens. No one noticed. I didn’t get rushed to the doctor, no one checked on me. I just failed miserably and recovered alone.  I somehow began to believe that God didn’t want me dead. He was saving me for some reason. So, I gave up.

Eventually, I lost sight of the belief that God had some purpose for me. I walked away from Christianity and into witchcraft for a time. I also began to live as the world lives. Life felt pointless and hopeless. I found everything lacking – it was an empty, hopeless existence.  

As a young adult, I was going to school, working, and being a single mother. I was so very broken. I never went to church. For two years I was in an abusive relationship. I finally left when I knew he would not change and that he was a liar. I believed he would kill me if I stayed with him.

Over the years, people would invite me to church and I’d go sometimes. Most of the time I’d decline while saying things like “I don’t want the building to burn down when I come near.” And “I don’t belong there, I sin too much.” 

Eventually, I went to law school. I was in a long-term relationship which I thought was true love, but it was really just an exchange of sex for a fake version of love. After two years in law school, I moved closer to school and away from all the things I knew. This was when I had a real encounter with God. 

Around this time, a Bible verse would frequently come to me and give me comfort. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thou art with me.” (Psalm 23:4 KJV) I knew this verse because it was always read at the funerals. I still call it the funeral Psalm. Instead of making me sad for my losses, I remembered I believe in God and Jesus. I felt less alone and less sad. I held onto that verse in my mind and would say it over and over when I was afraid. 

One summer day, a couple months after I moved, I was alone one weekend after dropping off my son to his dad. I was afraid, and sad. Everything felt pointless. I began to cry uncontrollably and without specific reason. In the past, my thoughts would turn dangerous and suicidal, a taunting in my mind that it’s all pointless, it doesn’t matter, an no one will miss me anyway. This time, there was nothing. Just a pain deep and empty in the center of my chest.

I cried for what must have been an hour. I found myself on my knees. And while I was there, I heard the verse in my head. I prayed, begging forgiveness and asking God to save me. I don’t remember any of the specific things I said. I just remember I knew I needed to ask for Jesus to come back in my life. I grew up in the church and at that time I was far from it, and far from anything good. 

That prayer put me on the road to change. I wish I could say I did a 180-degree change, but it was a slow realignment that took several years. I needed time to see that the things I was doing were wrong, and to feel the pain of those things to my core. Looking back now I see where I was lost in sin and scrambling in my pain to get out. Jesus knew and sat with me in my pain. 

It’s been about 10 years. I’ve slowly had this realignment and Jesus’ presence in my life that has healed my broken heart. He has healed my wounds. I believed I was unloved, and God called me his daughter. I believed I was alone, and Jesus drew near to me. I believed I was worthless, and the Spirit reminded me that I was saved from death for a purpose. I believed no human could love me, and he reminded me his love is greeter than any human’s love. I thought I was irredeemable, and he reminded me that he provides an abundance of grace and mercy to cover my sins. He reminded me he has already died for me, much better than any human declaration. I thought I was an orphan in this world, and he told me I was adopted into his family. 

Underneath all my sins and self-destructive behaviors were these wrong beliefs that I had adopted about myself. All those actions were symptoms of a lack of love. I didn’t get the love I needed as a child, and I adopted these wrong beliefs as my own. People discarded me and devalued me, and I believed it. I lived it out. Jesus said I was wrong – both in belief and in action. He came after me and loved me and protected me. 

I’m not perfect at life or at being a Christian. I’m giving it my best and the more I know of him, the less empty and hopeless I become. I thank God every day for Jesus and for the hope he has given me in this life. He is the reason I still live. 

Eventually, had I kept trying, I probably would have succeeded in my suicide attempts. But I’ve stopped trying. I’m willing to endure the pain of this world so that I can tell my story in hope that people like you, who read things like this,  will hear and believe Jesus can save you too. God put me back together. He can do it for you too.

The closer I get to truth and Jesus, the closer I am to thriving. Living a good life isn’t about how your house looks, how toned your body is, how put together your clothes and makeup are. Those are mere decorations that we show the world. 

Living a good life is about the inside of things. Living a good life is escape from suffering, or His presence in the midst of our suffering. It’s redemption by grace and mercy, freely given, and wholly received with an open heart. It’s the healing of the wounds that suffering causes us. It’s the things that we can only receive when we turn away from the world and to the God of the universe who gave us Jesus because he loves us. 

Life is hard friend. The world tells us to do more, to keep trying, to just do better next time. The world tells us to take control and keep going. 

Christ tells us to come and rest. (Matthew 11:28-30) He tells us, “I have already done the work for you. You need only be still.” He tells us he will heal us and come close to us while we are hurting. 

If you believe that Christ can love you and save you through his sacrifice, pray this prayer.

God, I believe you sent Jesus to the world to save me from the suffering of my sin. I want to turn towards you and away from the things that I’ve been doing. I need help to get better and to do better. I don’t have to wait until I have it all together. Come and let me rest at your feet. I am tired of my empty suffering and hopeless life. I want to follow you and turn from the things I’ve been doing. I believe that you are the only way to heaven. I want the hope you bring. Come dwell within me. In Jesus Name, I pray, amen. 

Friend, if you believe and prayed that prayer – welcome to the family. Know that I am celebrating with you! The whole of heaven is celebrating with you! 

The next steps – get connected with a church. Ask people you know what church they go to, google a church near you (make sure that it believes in the saving power of Jesus’s sacrifice). Learn about Jesus – download the YouVersion Bible app and do some Bible reading plans.

If you prayed that prayer today, leave a comment below! If you want to celebrate with our new family members, comment below too. I hope this series has helped you in some way. There are many resources available for you on the internet and at church. If you want more posts like this type your email in the box below. I won’t spam you or sell your information. See you there friend!


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