It's good Friday! And boy is it good. Today is the first day of outreach for the Beauty Arise Discipleship Training School and on Tuesday we'll be going to Spain. How exciting.
I was asked to write something this week for the blog, and after trying to think up things to write, God moved me to share with you the same message I shared at the Beauty Arise fashion show in Mexico about a month ago!
So this message has a back story, and it starts when I was 15. I had a control problem. I wanted answers and I wanted them instantly. And when things would go badly in my life I would try to control the situation and plan everything out-- the same thing happened with my relationship with God.
At this time I got a boyfriend. Throughout the relationship I tried so hard to change my boyfriend and to keep him in my life, and he manipulated me into believing he wanted the same thing. When I was 18 he broke up with me and when it happened I realized I had given all of my heart to him. I felt alone, hopeless, unworthy and unlovable. I also noticed that I felt so far from God. I spent the next year trying to get God back and get the boy back at the same time. Eventually I stopped and listened to God and he told me that I couldn't have them both, and that the relationship was something that would end up killing me. I recommitted my life to God and I felt that I once again had his favour, his love and his grace.
About a year ago, after some time committed to God I fell short again. There were still some holes I was trying to fix in my heart that were left from the relationship with my boyfriend, and I discovered that partying and drinking was the way I wanted to fill them. I knew in my heart this wasn't a permanent fix, but my control side took over. I told myself I would do this for a while and then eventually get back to a committed life with God like nothing happened. I realized quickly you can't plan out the consequences of living recklessly. Every time I went out and got drunk something went wrong. I would fight with my friends, get sick, allow guys to speak horrible things over me, and worst of all: I carried around a guilt Monday through Friday that effected my relationship with my family and my friends. Eventually I got tired of it all and stopped going out, but that didn't really fix anything.
I spent the summer numb from the experience. The plan was to do my thing for a while and get back to a Godly life, but I realized that living that life style for 6 months not only temporarily filled up the holes in my life, but it made them bigger. I didn't know how to get back to God. I didn't know what to do to receive his favour and love and grace again.
So coming to LA I was still wounded, and I still felt that though God has saved me from things, I needed to work on myself some more before I could be complete in my relationship with him. I felt like I needed to make myself valuable in order for God to value me. I thought I had it figured out.
It was week three in my DTS that those ideas were shattered. The speaker was talking to us about identity in Christ when he said some things that destroyed all the lies I've believed for so long. He explained that Christianity is not about doing what you can to get to God, as if God is a destination that you can reach. I always thought that every time I hit a low point in my life I was taking steps back from God's grace. He explained that life is the journey, and God is not the destination: he's the person walking beside you the whole time. I spent a lot of my time trying to get to God, when the whole time He was wanting to just be with me and love me where I was at.
I know now that God was never something I needed to reach at some point in my life, He was with me the whole time. I can live a life of freedom knowing God's grace is one that meets me where I'm at, and that I no longer need to work out my life in order to get it. Because of this knowledge I'm able to love with a full heart knowing that we are all able to receive God's grace and love, we just need to accept it no matter what we're going through in life.
Since I've landed in LA I've been able to receive God's love knowing that I'm nowhere close to perfect. I stopped focusing on being the best version of me I could be in order for God to love me, and I just allowed Him to love me where I was at. That's what God's grace is. God doesn't love me any more or less in life, no matter where I'm at; He loves me fully and unconditionally and his grace extends to me in every season. I don't need to find a place in his kingdom; he's placed me in it through his sacrifice of his son on that cross.
So this Easter when you think about Jesus and God's sacrifice, I encourage you to think about how well you've been receiving the gift that was given on that day. Remember that Jesus came down to us because we could never get up to Him. That's grace and it's beautiful.
Titus 3:4-7 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life
Beauty Arise DTS Student January 2016