Be loved, beloved

I don’t know that I’ve ever been this publicly vulnerable aside from when I shared my testimony, but I feel called to share this letter because I know, with almost complete certainty, that others either feel or have felt this way.

I wrote this letter the day of my full acceptance of Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

My hope and prayer is that these words provide comfort in knowing you are not alone.

First, it is really important to me that you know the following:

The decision to confess and repent of your sins (first to God and then to someone you know and trust, and who knows you well and loves you) is your decision to make.
The decision to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior is your decision to make.
Your decision to go public with your faith and get baptized is yours to make.

No one can sway you to make these decisions; certainly not me and I don’t want to ever think that I can. That isn’t my purpose.

These decisions must come from you and you alone.

My purpose is to help others find and follow Jesus. So all I can do is share my story, my experiences, my thoughts, and especially what God has placed on my heart.

But again, I can’t make this ultimate and life-changing decision to follow Jesus for you.

And God won’t make this decision for you either.

Of course He has the power to; He has the power to do anything and everything. But that’s just not who He is. He is the ultimate authority but He doesn’t force His divine authority on us. He wants us to come to Him and follow Him, His Son and His Spirit willingly.

He wants you to receive and believe.

It’s the only way.

I promise you though, whenever you are ready to make these decisions, you will not regret it! For that I am willing to stake my life.

Please believe me when I say that I understand the questions, doubts, skepticism, and concerns you may have, especially about how this will change you and your life. So let me just say upfront that yes, your life will be forever changed because you will be changed.

He will fulfill a glorious, spectacular, loving, merciful, and redeeming work in you and through you. I’m speaking from experience!

Yes, my life definitely has changed because I have changed, ultimately because of the change that He bestowed on me.

I’m very well aware of the fact that I look and speak and appear different on the outside. But believe me, it’s nothing compared to the change that has happened on the inside. And it’s all good. Even on the bad days (because those definitely still exist and happen), it’s all good.

Look–I genuinely, sincerely didn’t think this (being a Christian) was possible for me. But it was and still is.

No matter your past, no matter what you’ve done or what’s happened to you, no matter the shame you bear– forgiveness, salvation, and a life lived forever changed is possible for you too.

Sisters, Jesus wants you to come Home.
He does not condemn you.
He does not hold your past, your sin, and your shame against you.

He has made you clean, whole, and new in Him.
He only wants you to receive this truth and believe this truth, willingly and wholeheartedly.

Will you?

January 6, 2020

“‘Be loved, beloved” — Romans 9:25

It’s not that I doubt you, God. It’s not that I doubt Your power, Your strength, Your ability, or Your love.

I listened, so intently, in church yesterday, just as I have been every service for the past year. I hear the pastor’s words, I hear Your Words, and I take them in and let them wash over me. I feel the Spirit move through me and I know You’re there.

I believe You. I believe in You.

And I love You. Oh I love You, God.

And yet.

I still feel unworthy. It is excruciating to fathom that a perfect God wants me. After everything I’ve done? After all the times I denied You? How? How can it be?

I can’t accept to be Loved because I am too aware of how much I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve Your perfect Love. I don’t deserve to be blessed. I don’t deserve to be given anything.

God, why do you want me? I fail you and let you down, over and over again. I’m afraid to accept and embrace what’s been given because I don’t feel clean. Down to the very core of me, I feel dirty, broken.

I know I need you. I say the acceptance prayer with Pastor Kevin every time he prays it. I say it desperately. And at the same time I’m desperate for others in the room to believe and be set free too. I can believe it for others; why can’t I believe it, accept it, and embrace it for myself?

My sins.

My sins run deep. I feel very old sometimes. Very worn, very tired. And I know it’s because of the weight of my sins. I know I’m growing closer to You God because when I think back on my sins, it’s like another person committed them. Like it happened in another life. It’s like I’m standing on the threshold of something. Behind me is darkness. It’s vast, stormy, frightening.

Before me is light. A never-ending sunrise. The colors are the most pure and vibrant of any display known to man. And I’m filled with hope. Hope feels like the first warm day after bitter cold winter. Hope is the quenching of thirst after a challenging run. Hope is worshipping and feeling the Holy Spirit move through you and the hairs on your arms and back of your neck stand up and suddenly the words you were singing catch in your throat and your eyes fill up with tears and His presence is so near you swear you could reach out and His hand would appear, open and inviting.

I was in darkness for so long I grew familiar with the sensation of stumbling, falling, and failing. It’s not that I was ever too proud, I was just more accustomed to the fall than the rise. I feared longing for a better alternative. I never doubted Your existence–just that You should want someone like me.

I know You love me. I know Jesus died for me. I know He saved me.

But I wish I could have helped Him, saved Him somehow. I don’t mean to sound like a martyr or that I could ever be a savior, it’s just that I think of what Jesus did, what He endured, and my heart breaks. I wish I could have saved Jesus from people like me. From me. I don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything like that at all, I just feel overwhelmed by why He did what He did and don’t feel that I am worth dying for. I know Jesus was raised from the dead and I rejoice in that. I really do. Just not for me. Most definitely others, just not me. Reading these words I fear I sound dramatic but it’s true.

But I want to change that narrative, desperately.

I have to.

‘Return to Me, come Home.’

So first I must be honest and confess.

(On the next page of my journal I wrote out every sin and shameful thing I’ve ever done, thought, felt, etc. I confessed them to God. I ripped that page out of my journal and took it to Prayer Night that night. During Prayer Night at our church, I confessed my sins aloud in the presence of God and Josh, and prayed for forgiveness. I openly, wholeheartedly, said that I was tired of running, that I was ready to come Home, that I was letting go of my past, my sin, and my shame, that I wanted Jesus to love me and save me and that I want to be in Heaven with Him someday. Josh prayed over me and together we walked down to a trash can where I ripped up my journal page of confessions and threw it in the trash to symbolize my letting go and willingness to embrace the new. Our campus pastor witnessed me do this and prayed over me. After his prayer I asked when the next baptism ceremony was. Then, later that night at home, I wrote in the next page of my journal.)

Now that I’ve let it all go, it’s time to be fully alive!

Go public with my faith and get baptized!!

I no longer have anything to prove, anything to hide, and anything to lose.”

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