“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…” – John 15:16
This verse proves so true in the life of Her Story that I will share with you today. Her Story is one of childhood faith, a later turning from Christ to pursue sin and a life of rebellion, and a beautiful coming home. I love stories of redemption, stories of a lost child being found and embraced by a loving Father who readily welcomes them back into His arms no matter where they’ve been or what they’ve done. This is Her Story.
We meet her as a young child. Born into a Christian home, she was raised to believe the truth of the God of the Bible. Some of her earliest memories include Sunday school, memorizing Scripture, and praying with her mom each night before she fell asleep. God’s existence was simply always a part of her reality. From the moment she could talk, she sang “Jesus songs” at church, at home, in the car, whenever she could. It was as early as 4 or 5 years old that she prayed the prayer and asked Jesus to be her savior. Not having an incredibly accurate understanding of God’s grace at such a young age, her early years were lived in fear of losing God’s love. She would pray every single night for years that Jesus would come into her heart again, worried that the sins she committed that day would cause her to lose her salvation. More than she loved Jesus, she feared Hell. This fear of losing God’s love ultimately stemmed from a deeper wound. From a very early age, she was exposed to the heated rage and outbursts of anger from her father. Home was not always a safe place for her. Many nights as she prayed that Jesus would come back into her heart, she also prayed that the screaming and the shouting of her dad in the next room would stop. Never knowing when or where his anger would erupt, she lived with fear and a desperate longing for “normalcy,” whatever that was. Still a child but growing increasingly aware of the turmoil in her home, she naturally grew further and further apart from her father. His many addictions led to an abusive situation at home, and when the divorce was finally announced, there was almost a sense of relief in her heart. After her parents separated, she saw less and less of her dad. He simply wasn’t around and didn’t make himself available. His absence at the time seemed like a good thing. There was less drama, less fighting, and less dysfunction. So, why was there a void? Why was there an aching inside that she couldn’t fix?
Teenage years came before she knew it, and dad’s presence was becoming more scarce. When he was around, it seemed in her mind to do more damage than good, so she just assumed that she didn’t need a father. She would find love elsewhere. And so she tried. In Junior High, her life began to change. She once was someone so committed to virtuous living, even if only by principle, but now she began to make exceptions. It started innocently, so she thought. What began as hiding a cigarette once a week, turned into a double life pretty fast. Oh, she had mastered the art of disguise. She could be the poster child of “True Love Waits” on Sundays at church and be involved in weekly small groups, but when it wasn’t church time, it was secret sin time. She had two sets of friends, two different identities, and she was for the most part perfectly okay with it.
As she made her way through high school, she became better and better at lying to get her way and manipulating the people around her. She cheated, lied, betrayed her friends, and all the while sang in the choir at church. She didn’t really seem to have standards in dating. If he was a boy, looked her way, and flattered her with words she wanted to hear, she gave her heart to him. She justified each poor choice by convincing herself that it was alright because at least she wasn’t sleeping with him. Sex and drugs were the only “off limits” sins, so she enjoyed getting as close to the line as possible every time.
When she graduated, she pursued a life of “freedom from the church”. As if true freedom can be found outside of Christ, she continued to pursue everything that the world said would bring her happiness, and every time she was left wanting. Her relationships were shallow, her connection with God seemed almost entirely gone, and she finally hit rock bottom. She was exhausted and weary from trying to be everything everyone else wanted her to be that she had completely lost her own identity in those around her. She didn’t even know who she was anymore. She had nowhere to look but up. A faded memory of a childlike faith in God crept back into her heart. She began to see the folly in her current choices and wanted a change desperately. She wanted a life that mattered, one that made a difference, one that counted.
As she began to pursue God, God began to reveal Himself to her. She began to have completely different desires, different hopes and dreams for her life. She pursued a Christian college education to prepare her for full-time ministry. Her second year in school, she was baptized, and it seemed as though the failures of her past were behind her. However, as she grew in her relationship with Christ, all the scars from the past began to surface. She had deep wounds that resulted in bitterness and unforgiveness. She had horrible anger issues and certainly didn’t find her identity solely in Christ.
As she approached her senior year and graduation, things were starting to look up. She had grown so much and learned more about God and His Word than she ever had, and she was looking forward to a promising future in ministry. Then the unthinkable occurred. Within weeks of each other, she experienced a shattered relationship and the suicide of a close friend. She was left completely broken. Right at the time when she thought God was really at work in her life, it seemed as if everything came crashing down. The next few years of her life were spent walking down the road of grief, despair, and doubt. Was God really good? How could He have allowed these things to happen? Where was He now? It was in this deeply painful season of her life that she truly came to know and love the heart of God. There were days when she could barely pick herself up off of the floor. She was desperate for His touch, desperate for His Word, and completely broken. She came to know and love the Lord because she chose to finally let Him into her pain and bring healing to areas in her life that she had always kept hidden. She was finally released to forgive and ready to embrace God’s forgiveness. He brought new life, and for the first time in her life she began to experience true joy, true satisfaction.
She emerged from that season with an insatiable desire to share God’s truth with women everywhere. Any opportunity she could get, she wanted to speak hope and love into the hearts of the broken because she had been there. She had to share what God had done in her life so that others could know and believe that God could also set them free. This passion remains her driving force today—to know God and to make Him known. It’s what she lives for. It’s what her heart longs for—to see women walking in freedom and loving Christ with everything inside of them. To witness even one growing in their faith and knowing Christ more is her greatest joy. She was lost in sin, broken and scarred, running after everything but God, yet His grace remained. He chose her. He never left her side. She was never alone, not even in her darkest hour. His faithfulness called her out into His marvelous light, and she will never turn back. Praying to be always found in constant pursuit of her savior, this is Her Story. This is my story.