I thought that I made it. I thought that I finally wouldn’t hurt anymore.
This part of my story begins at the age of twenty-one. I’ve been told by my pastors and other adults I respected in the church that I’ve done more in missions than most of the adults in church in America.
I did three years at a missions based ministry school called the Atlanta Dream Center School of Ministry, been to half the US and two different countries in three years. I thought that I had understood it all, knew where to go in life and how Christianity worked.
Then, I decided to do what every young Christian missionary should do.
I decided to get engaged.
I figured that the next “step” to take in my Christian walk was to get married. Then, after getting married, have kids, join in full time ministry, keep traveling the world and live the “Christian” life.
From what I had seen, getting married just seemed to be the next step in climbing the “Christian ladder” I had perceived in my head (that was nothing close to Jacob’s ladder). It’s now two years from that point.
The engagement didn’t even last a few months.
I broke off our wedding plans, and then life seemed to break me. After needing to have surgery on my nose, and then losing my ID and my roommates moving out, I am back in Florida living with my parents, working two part time jobs to just pay bills with a girlfriend in Georgia.
One Sunday night, I was home alone. I was contemplating how I was not where I’d thought I’d be.
Things had not gone according to plan. Life had become a real struggle with no light at the end of the tunnel. Faith had become a struggle since the results did not meet my expectations.
But perhaps most haunting of all, I began to get lost in the realization of just how broken I was. I felt far more broken than I thought I should feel, more broken than Christians are allowed to feel. What I had heard was that if you were struggling in your Christianity, then you were losing.
If that were true, then I was just another losing Christian, hopelessly trying to roll my stone of emotions up the hill of God’s love.
I felt as though since everything around me had fallen apart, it’s because I had made the wrong decision somewhere in my walk with God.
I had never had anyone love me despite all of my faults, and somebody that stuck with me despite all of my brokenness. I was raised with an alcoholic father and a mother that wasn’t emotionally stable.
I had brief experiences with church as a child, but they seemed to be either negative or at ages where I can’t remember much. I felt unloved, lost, ignorant of who God was and that I wasn’t walking in His will. More than anything, I felt alone.
I felt that I had fallen through the cracks of life, and that no one was there with me anymore.
Suddenly though, it hit me.
I wasn’t looking for the “next step up the ladder.” The next step didn’t matter.
The ladder no longer mattered.
I no longer wanted to use God like a crystal ball to see what I had to do next, I wanted Him because I needed to know that I was still loved, that my brokenness even after meeting Him could still be healed, and to just hear His voice again.
It was then that I realized something that night: I still, desperately need hope, forgiveness, affection, and affirmation.
I have been waiting for a while to forget things or just for a day when pains from dreams lost, from an engagement I had done wrong, and guilt for not being good enough would no longer bother me, that they would eventually de-materialize.
The problem being that an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force, & I realize that my heart, my mind, & my emotions have been like a train set to a course bound to de-rail. The Gospel of Jesus was that outside force that acted upon me to change my life, and it definitely has.
However, I have made many mistakes since being a Christian, something dawned on me that night. I still have wounds. I still hurt, I still need, I still bleed inside & sometimes even cry outside.
I still have this need for a continual hope & help.
And God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
I realized tonight that in my brokenness, I still need the gospel. I will always need the Gospel and I will never be beyond needing God’s grace & help to live whole, walk in purity, and have joy.
I will never graduate from the Gospel that tells us that God loves us and to walk with Him is to know love.
[Photo: Angelo González, Creative Commons]