Some of my favorite memories from college came from the nights that my closest girlfriends and I would lay on pillows and cushions on the floor of my dorm room, staying up way later than we should have, pouring our hearts out to each other about life.
We would tell funny stories from our past, share current heartaches we were talking through, and open up about the dreams we had for our future.
There was lots of laughter, many tears, and so many inside jokes shared from those nights.
Those nights were some of my favorite because it was then that I got the chance to learn so much about my friends; to hear how they truly felt and what they truly believed. A tight bond was quickly formed because we had the chance to know each other’s hearts and stories…our life stories.
I think back then I believed that I already had an extensive life story; my own tale that explained what had made me the person I was.
And to some extent, I did. But to a much larger extent, I had no idea at age 18 how much I didn’t know.
Now, years later, I am still realizing how much I don’t know, and how my story is still readily being shaped.
I think I used to feel like I had way more answers to life. Less questions, fears, doubts…more unshakable faith. Perhaps because I was a child…and for many children, life is much less complicated. Things looks black or white. I thought I knew what my life would look like; what decisions I would make and how I would always feel about certain topics.
But when I’m honest with myself now, I realize that in many ways, I am still getting to know who I am.
I’m finding that I have more and more days where I ask myself….”Why do I believe that? If I were asked this same question in 5 years, would I respond the same way?”
And while second guessing some fundamental questions about my own self feels odd, I know that it is so good. Because it’s forcing me to face who I say I am and what I say I believe and decide what it’s worth to me. Will I live it out, or will I throw it out?
If I strip everything about myself down, my identity is found in this one statement: I am a Christ-follower. One who follows Christ. If you’ve known me for years, you’ve known I claim this to be true of myself.
And it’s this one statement that you’d find at my core, because everything else in my life is centered around it. My worldview is shaped by this identity.
This statement though, has caused me a good deal of self-confusion over the years because I used to think that if I boldly took the stand of being a “Christian”, that my life needed to look near perfect. I thought that if I told my friends that I had decided to try to live a life that resembled this man and God named Jesus, that they would have no interest in knowing this God for themselves unless my life looked tidy and squeaky clean.
And that scared me to death because guess what? My life wasn’t always tidy, wasn’t always clean, and never touched perfection.
And my life still doesn’t. But what I’ve had to learn…or re-learn…is that to follow Christ is not to claim perfection. And it’s never to get you to believe I even come close to perfection.
To follow Christ is to admit to God and to others that I know I screw up. I realize more each day how prone I am to a selfishness. I sin and I make mistakes every day. And you know why? Because a life as a Christ follower doesn’t equal a life free of sin on earth. It equals forgiveness of sin. It equals a way out of the punishment I deserve. And it equals the power to make a 180 from the destructive path I tend to lead myself on, and to chase the path Christ lays out for me. To follow Jesus is to admit that I so badly need a Savior and it’s just got to be Him.
So here’s where I find myself; where my story is currently being written:
I still have days where I question and where I doubt and where I feel like my own sin might swallow me whole. But I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is Lord. That God is love. That His Word, and everything it says, is true and authoritative. That Christ died for us so that we might have eternal life. That He loves me more than I could ever fathom. That no matter how bad my sin is, He is big enough to forgive it. And that He wants my life in return; surrendered to Him.
Everything else, I am still figuring out. God takes my hand, and He walks me….teaching me, as I follow Him.
So I’m faced again with the question: Heather, what is it worth to you?
When I weigh what I might gain from a life lived how I want to live against what I gain from following Christ, my answer remains the same. It is worth everything to me.
My Pastor said in his sermon this past weekend, “Jesus gloriously wrecks our life.”
And that’s exactly where I’m at. Jesus has gloriously wrecked my life. He’s come into the world of Heather and shook things up. He refuses to let me live for myself and because of that, I’m forever caught in a struggle; my desires vs. His. But He will win. To wreck my life of self trust is the most loving thing He could do.
Jesus has reclaimed my story. He’s reclaimed my mistakes…my brokenness, my shame, my guilt. And He’s turning it into something beautiful.
I have no idea how my story will end. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. But I am so very glad He holds the pen.