For most of my children’s childhood I lived a life that those on the outside would esteem (or at least that’s what I’d hoped). I homeschooled my children and volunteered at church. I worked from home and kept a neat house. My kids were good, my husband was great, and what many didn’t know is that even though I had a smile on my face I lived under a burden of guilt. The problem was, even though I’d dedicated my life to God and asked His forgiveness, I hadn’t forgiven myself. I tried so hard to be good, knowing in the past I’d been so bad.
There were some things in my life I regretted that nobody knew about. There were other things that people close to me knew—my parents, my brother, John—but no one talked about. Yet I could feet the weight of past decisions: decisions like becoming sexually active at a young age, dating the wrong guys, having an abortion at fifteen. Even though I’d walked away from that life, I still felt like that girl full of shame. And more than anything, that girl wanted to hide. She did good, kept quiet, and hoped no one would notice the pained look in her eyes.
And then one day I met a woman who’d done the same things, yet her step was light and her smile was genuine. She lived, not under the burden of past regrets, but under the gift of grace. I wanted what she had.
For each of us, there are moments in our lives where the right message at the right time makes all the difference. For me, this message was an imagined picture of myself as a teen in a pitch black room.
You see, the woman-full-of-grace suggested I do a Bible study with her. It was called Forgiven and Set Free, and it guided me to be both. It was through this study that I learned about light and darkness. Of course, if you would have asked I would have been able to tell you that Jesus is the light of the world, but I didn’t understand what that meant to me personally.
Ephesians 5:8-9 says, “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
Reading this, I got the image of myself in darkness. Complete darkness. I imagined my arms outstretched, reaching and searching. I imagined grasping onto anything (or anyone) that I came across—even things unhealthy and not good. I couldn’t see because there wasn’t any light. I didn’t know better because I couldn’t see. In the darkness I made many mistakes, bumped into many problems … but isn’t that the natural consequences of someone groping around in the dark?
My heart during the time of my youth was dark. Sin reigned. Sin is “missing the mark” of God’s perfect plan. In the darkness it was natural for me to miss the mark. And everyone stumbling around with me was missing the mark too. I stumbled, I crashed, and it hurt … but that’s how things work in the darkness.
Thankfully, when I was pregnant and seventeen, I found the Light. In the light I could see. And even though I’ll never be perfect (far from it), in the light and with the guidance of the Light within, I do strive to do what is good, and right, and true. Dark deeds had come from a dark path, but that wasn’t me anymore.
It’s amazing how a little knowledge can bright so much freedom.
(to be continued … )