Prior to my life as of now, I had a life that you might not think was very pretty. I don't know how to say this, other than, I was a mess. There were times in my life that I just worked a job only so I could have money to use and drink. I didn't have money to pay rent for very long, so I would move in and move out. A lot. I put utilities in my son's name one time just to get them turned on.
I stole checks from my Mom and forged her name. I stole food out of my neighbors refrigerator because she forgot to lock the door when she left. I broke in to my friends houses when I knew they weren't home. I sold things that were not mine for money to buy drugs. I was a pitiful excuse for a human being.
I smoked through both of my older children's pregnancies, and drank during the 2nd. I didn't know how to deal with my Dad's death, my Mom's remarriage, or my distance from my brothers and sister, so I drank it away. I had a terrible relationship that involved quantum amounts of abuse. I'm lucky I didn't loose my kids. Or my life.
After I became a single parent in 2002, things were a little better. I moved to a new town and was able to hold a job, control my expenditures, and stop using drugs. I still had no idea how to have a healthy relationship with a man...so I failed miserably at that in rapid succession, forever choosing angry alcoholics with more problems than I bargained for. At least I knew better than to introduce them all to my children.
In 2004, I started thinking I should take the kids to church. I was afraid since they hadn't been baptized as babies, they would go to Hell if they died. I started with the denomination that I had grown up in. I signed the kids up for CCD, went to Mass on Sunday and even made the Holy Days of Obligation a priority in my life. I ended up changing churches to the one down the street that my brother and his family went to. They said I could have an hour or so of peace on Wednesday nights if I took the kids to AWANA - score!
Pretty soon I stuck around and went to Bible study. I remember thinking how freaking perfect those ladies must be and how messed up I must look. I didn't even have a Bible or know where to start looking for one. I didn't know what "version" to get and really thought I wasn't even worth having one. Where to start?
After hanging around and going to worship (another hour to myself with the kiddos in nursery and Children's church *score*), I decided to buy a Bible and try to read it. The Perfect Bible Study Ladies suggested to start in 1st John so I did that. The 1st Bible verse I ever remember really hitting home was this:
1 John 4:16 - ...God is Love. 18 - There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
It hit me. I had been living in FEAR. The words I had heard in my AA meetings just crash landed with the words in the Bible. "Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity..." taken from pg.62 of The Big Book.
My whole life I had been driven by fear and there is no fear in love. God is love so, with all of my fear, God was not with me.
My mind = blown. I kept reading that Bible and found out that God didn't want my money, or my good deeds, he didn't care if I had been a bad person, he had NO RECORD OF WRONGS. All he wanted me to do was to admit that I was a sinner, that Jesus came as an atoning sacrifice for those sins, and declare Him Lord of my life.
My life = changed. My signature on my outgoing messages is 2 Cor 5:17, which is this: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! I love that it's like a joyous declaration with an exclamation point and everything. Awesomeness.
Here's the now of the thing and the reason I wrote this. My life has evolved much over the last 6 years. Outwardly, I went from a single mom of 2 working a full time job, to a married Mom of 4 doing home daycare and home schooling! Inwardly there has been much healing and change.
But there are old tapes. Things I still freak over, fears that I have. Nightmares I re-live no matter the prayers I whisper in the dark. I am still very suspicious of people, especially those that are well to do or try to "help" me in any way. I am funny and charming so that I don't have to be serious. I hateHATEhate it when I cry. I can't have prescription pain meds around - I like them way to much. I went through a period of about a year after I had our daughter, Susan, where I had infection after injury after ailment and all were ending up in rock star quantities of Hydrocodone. I had to let God have the pain and stop chasing after the mental relief with the physical.
The point is that I'm not perfect now that I'm a Christ follower. No one is. We all still struggle. But Jesus said it best when he said that - "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47 The more junk I find that I need to leave at The Cross, the more I love Jesus for handling things for me.
I always thought I wasn't good enough for Jesus - and I was right. But you don't clean yourself up before you hop in the shower...and you don't have to be any good for Jesus to wash away your sins.