I’ve gone through some pretty dark times in my life. Though the path to the darkest point began when my ex husband and I separated in 2004. I don’t know how to explain what happened to me. I grew up in church, living with my Mom and Grandparents who were Pastors. I knew all about salvation and the consequences of sin. Yet somehow how I found myself in the deepest pit of darkness without even knowing how I got there.
A few months before the separation I was sold out for Christ, but looking back I was allowing a lot of compromise to slowly come into my life. I began to make exceptions for circumstances and justify things that should have been recognized as sin. I became attached to people who were not following the Lord more than I should have. Just like the song by Casting Crowns, it was a slow fade.
Without even realizing it I had become one with the world. In the beginning I had guilt because I knew the way I was living was wrong, but it eventually was drown out with the overwhelming amount of new friends I had and the party life I was living. After residing in 2 different states for the prior 5 years where I had kept to myself, I was loving that I had a social life. While in the beginning I would hang out with these friends and not participate in the same things they did, over time I began to partake. In the beginning it was just flirting with sin, dabbling a little here and a little there. However, when I gave my ex husband custody over our 2 children due to my not being able to afford childcare so I could work to provide for them, I became emotionally broken. I did everything but turn to Jesus. I wanted to numb what I was feeling.
I turned into someone I didn’t even know. I dived in head first and was quickly spiraling downward. While I never did hard drugs, there were those that did around me. I became the ultimate party girl and if someone paid attention to me, I gave them anything they wanted. I spent money I didn’t have, drank every drink given to me (It was rare that I paid for my own drinks, no matter where I was), picked up a lot of bad habits, and avoided anyone that would tell me I was doing wrong. I knew what I was doing was breaking God’s heart, but I didn’t want to have to deal with what was really happening: My life long dreams being crushed.
It’s a long story that would probably take a book to write, but even when I hit rock bottom, it didn’t stop. I just kept going. I lived in my mini-van with a man that repeatedly beat me, emotionally abused me, stole from me, and cheated on me for nearly a year. Only a few people knew my living situation, as I would still show up at my job looking like everything was fine. I painted a pretty picture for everyone and was always focused on giving everyone what they wanted, no matter what the cost would be to me.
It was a few years before I turned back to the Lord. I had become agnostic and wanted nothing to do with any mention of Christ… That is until my Grandma died. A few days after she passed I had found out that the man I was in a serious relationship with that until then seemed like the most perfect soul mate for me had been lying to me about something that couldn’t be overlooked. I was now dealing with massive grief for 2 separate things. I had also recently been fired from a job that I loved and was barely making it as a temporary office assistant. I decided my only answer was to join the Army. I enlisted as quickly as I could and decided I was going to live it up until it was time to attend basic training. I barely ate as I had no money. I partied constantly. I gave almost everyone everything I could give them, no matter what it was. It was truly the darkest time of my entire life.
It wasn’t until a little over a month later when I met the man of my dreams, my true soul mate, and married him after just meeting him 3 days before that I turned back to Jesus and found salvation. What could have been the most impulsive and stupidest decision of my life was actually the best thing I could have done. I realized on our way home from eloping in Las Vegas that God’s hand was in my meeting my husband and that He still wanted me no matter what. For the first time in years I listened as God spoke to me as my groom laid sleeping in the passenger seat. It wasn’t an instant transformation though.
You see, I was so deep in darkness that it was quite a journey to find my way out. I had only a few Christians that had stayed in my life even though I had grown up in church surrounded by Christian family and friends. Everyone had written me off, and honestly, I don’t blame them. I felt shunned and not worthy to be in the presence of those that served the Lord.
Slowly, one by one, I became separated from people that were toxic to my relationship with the Lord. I began giving up things that were holding me back from growing in Christ. I kept pushing forward, even though some days I was certain that I would never be free from the chains that were holding me down, nor pure enough to be proven acceptable in the eyes of the Lord.
I am here to tell you that Jesus led me to find my way out. There was one scripture that I grew up hearing my Mom sing in church that would always come to mind as I was praying and became my anthem:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
That’s right, folks. HE called ME out of darkness. He beaconed me constantly, begging me to come closer. I finally made it into His marvellous light, praying all the way that He would remove me from the darkness no matter what it took. I lost so many “friends” and things that at the time seemed so important to me. To say it wasn’t difficult or painful would be a lie, but now those wounds are healed. Having Jesus means more to me than anything else in this world or what it has to offer.
Do you feel like you’re in darkness? Maybe you’ve turned your face back to Jesus, but still feel something holding you back. I’m here to tell you that you will come out of that pit if you just keep praying. Read your Bible as often as you can. Allow God to show you things that need to be removed from your life. Stop doing the things that you know are wrong. KEEP PUSHING THROUGH! God will take your hand and pull you closer to Him. Forgive yourself for the things you’ve done, as God has already not only forgiven you but forgotten everything you have done if you have asked Him to come into your life and admitted your sin with a sincere prayer. It may take time, but you will get there. I’m living proof…
If you’re old enough, you may remember this commercial from the 90’s, where the kid from Last Action Hero and Heartland (I think that was the name of it…) goes into Circuit City because he bought a Walkman one week and it was advertised at a better price the next.
“Last week I bought this… and today I saw this…”
Words forever implemented into the brain of a child of the 90’s…
When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, we never have to worry about this. See, our souls are purchased with blood. There are no “sales”, “bids”, “rebates”, “coupons”, “economy versions”, or “upgrades”. The price of our soul does not change. What we were then, that is what we are today, and that is what we’ll be in the future: It is the same. Our value does not deteriorate like may things do in this day and age. We are still the most valuable to God!
Sometimes, when you are like me and have a past, it is easy to think, “Well, yeah, I can do good. But not near as good as Sis. So-and-so, they’ve never done anything wrong so obviously they are closer to God.” THIS IS NOT TRUE! Remember how the Bible says that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy? This is a PERFECT example. Don’t let him win!
You are valuable to God. Irreplaceable, as a matter of fact. You can do just as much for him now as any one else. Pray about it and seek God about what he wants you to do and then do it. You have a testimony and there are people out there who need your encouragement. Whether it’s going on the mission field, helping out at your church, or leading you children just follow the call of Jesus. You’ll be so glad you did!