Take a look at this video. Our church actually used the below visual prior too, in a sermon and I was overwhelmed at the emotion that welled up inside me. This video did the same and that is why I share.
So here is mine.
Lost in shame...
REDEEMED IN JESUS!!!
I probably could share several cardboard confessionals. Listing out each sign like stitches of an old worn quilt...stich by stich. For years I wore this quilt, not for warmth, but to hide from the shame that I allowed to be my identity.
Several months ago my friend Bri, shared her story. A story, like mine that while defined us for a season of our life, defines us no more. Because, Jesus' power is greater. So, here I go in abbreviated form and hopefully with as much transparency as I can muster.
I come from a large family, six boys and two girls. Every dollar stretched, but we never felt the burden of caring for eight children. My father, traveled quite a bit as he moved up the ladder in the Air Force, and my Mom stayed home with us until I was in High School. We moved 5 times before I graduated and I attended 2 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and one high school. The moves were easy and I never felt uprooted. But in hind sight it was my relationships that became increasingly reflective of my inner insecurities. I gravitated to anyone I thought was 'cool' and encountered some interesting 'friendships'.
I was raised in the Catholic Church, attending every Sunday, CCE on Wednesdays, and any special holiday we had Mass for. While the fundamental truth that Jesus loved me was learned early on, something was amiss. From as early as I can remember I stole and lied from anyone at anytime. Most times I stole things that I coveted and then lied about having stole said item. Sometimes, it was merely compulsion, habit or I dare say an addiction. It affected every relationship in my immediate family, and some cases friends and eventually the good 'ole Law....more on that later.
Throughout adolescence I certainly had encounters with the Lord, but nothing seemed to stick. With one of our moves from Texas to California I found the years of being a sweet little girl slip away. I started hanging with the wrong crowd and attempted a tough exterior. After a series of events including, some random girl beating me up...twice and some one 'tagging' our garage, my parents decided Texas was where we belonged and so we moved 'home'. Another move, but I was able to reconnect with old friends and pick up where I left off. But, I was different almost an innocence lost scenario. The first year was fine, but then I met my first steady boyfriend and things got pretty heavy, pretty fast. I had lost my virginity at 15 without a bat of an eye. That's just what you did, right? Well, that's just what I did...more than once. Along with those decisions came the other decisions, too. The ones where I snuck out at night to see my 22 year old boyfriend at 15, and slept over at my 23 year old boyfriend's house at 16, drank more than most college frat boys, smoked, and tried pot...once. While there is some debate in my mind on what was discussed in my home growing up, none of this was reflections of appropriate behavior by my parent's standards. I simply rebelled with the best of them. Then my sophomore year I seemed to 'get it' and pulled away from some of the poor choices. But short lived, because I just couldn't get rid of the desires of my flesh.
I met Randy my senior year, but was weary after a hard break up. While we certainly did not live our lives as a reflection of Christ, we seemed to be a good influence on one another. Although, we lived a sinful existence, come Sunday morning we put on a happy face and I started going to church with him and his family at a quaint little Baptist church.
Shortly into our relationship I began working at a local music/video/bookstore. As friends would come in I thought the 'cool' thing to do, would be to give said friends 'discounts'(stealing), such as punching in a CD for $1.59 instead of $15.99. Figuring I could just say (lie) that it was an error. Well, my luck ran out one day when they called me back to the office at the beginning of my shift. They knew what was happening and in short order I admitted to the crime. I was arrested, led out through the store (passing friends from school), and booked into the county jail. Getting my one phone call, I called my Mom who was home worried sick without my Dad because he was in New York for my Great Grandmother's funeral, oh and it just so happened to be my Dad's birthday, too. Again in true shame and disgust my Mom bailed me out of jail at 5am with a family friend who was a lawyer. Shame definitely became my mantra as a kid and you'd think it would have 'scared the heck out of me' as my Dad would often ask me. Nope, not me. It was probably the last BIG event of adolescence, but I hadn't heard God's voice above my own..yet.
Still dating, Randy and I conceived a child. This was to be the hardest thing I would ever tell my parents. As to be expected, they were not happy and I thought my Mother would hate me forever. We decided to move in together in May 1999, still unmarried. I didn't even have a license for crying out loud! Caleb was born September 1999 and we became instant grown ups. We knew nothing, but threw ourselves into loving this little innocent baby with all our might.
We continued to go to church throughout our relationship. It was at this church that I first heard about the invitation of the gospel and a relationship with Jesus. It's where I learned to read a Bible. It's where I experienced community for the first time. And, it's where I went through one of the darkest times in my life.
In July of 2000 I was in a car accident and was hit by a motorcycle while crossing a busy intersection in our small compact car. It was an accident in every sense of the word. But none of that mattered because the man on the motorcycle never walked again. In my mind I couldn't get past the fact that I taken another person's life. I felt tremendous sadness and guilt. In my darkest hour, God was there. I pushed past the tears and finally heard his plea for me to follow him. I was baptized at the very church I heard the truth I longed to hear all those years growing up. I detest the sinful choices I've made in my life, and even now I am far from who God has called me to be. But, I no longer wear that quilt. I would do it all over again to be in the spot I am in now in life, because that is where I am supposed to be.