I’m writing right now because I have believed the lie that my life doesn’t really matter - that no one cares about my story. That if my friends really knew all of me, I would be too much, and they would leave me. I’m writing because I fight so many lies every. single. day.
As I read the words of my friend, Jennifer, “Your words matter to God. Your words matter to people.” I threw my phone down and just wept. It was like God was speaking directly to ME - piercing through my scarred heart, and I cried, “Oh God, help me believe this.”
Earlier this morning, I had opened my phone-Bible (Message version) looking for a verse on friends. I ended up in John 15, “Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” Immediately, I was bombarded with condemnation. “You are a bad friend, Paula. Think of all the friends you have lost. No one will ever stick it out with you because you don’t stick it out with them.” I got myself in a shame pit, and it’s so hard to try to climb out.
The truth is that I grew up too fast in an unhappy home and I found my worth by pleasing others and performing for acceptance. I have always longed to be close to God and people, but I walled-off my heart at an early age. I learned the world was an unsafe place and no one could protect me, so I had to protect myself. Though I’ve had a nice, competent, ‘together’, positive exterior, I never let anyone see the hurt I buried inside. I truly believed I was worthless and no one would ever love me - for me. It is a fight to not believe these lies still.
I married a man that wasn’t really attracted to me, but God told him to marry me and he liked that I was a “good, humble, submissive” girl who wouldn’t hold him back. I never complained and I truly wanted to live for Jesus. He believed we should “live as if we weren’t married” in order to be ‘sold out’ for Jesus and further the Gospel. Though it sounded good and I thought I was 'dying to myself,' I really felt unloved, abandoned, and alone. I didn’t believe I had any worth - so at least I could help him make much of God.
Then, we ended up in an unhealthy church that promised to love us and teach us God’s ways. We gave ourselves to them. I was uncomfortable at first, coming from the world with different standards, but I changed my exterior to fit the mold, and I quietly conformed and obeyed my leaders with a smile. I tried so hard to please so I would belong and be loved, but I never could measure up. I never was good enough. I still love all the people there and count them as friends, but when I left, the connections were severed, and I was once again, desperately alone - unloved. Who really cares for me?
I gave up. Life is too hard. No one will ever love me. I am lost. Then, God put two friends in my life that believed in me. They believed in Jesus in me. They didn’t mind my tears or hurt or anger. That didn’t push me away. My friend, Dave, told me that Jesus found me and that “God loves me as I am, not as I ‘should’ be,” a quote from Brennan Manning. It was too good to be true - with eyes on all of my failures of the past - I doubted God could really like ME. But there was a little speck of hope that I hung on to - that maybe it really was true - there was hope, even for me.
Through Dave and Kelli’s friendship and love to me, God started tearing down my walls. I felt Love, God’s love, for the first time. I know God tried to show me before, but I was too walled-off and hard to feel.
My Creator Daddy is a gentleman and He doesn’t push me too hard - little by little, He opens my heart to heal me. Though I cry because it hurts, His love touches my pain and makes me soft so I can feel again. He makes my heart alive, and I’d rather be alive and able to feel even in the suffering, than dead-while-breathing and numb.
He’s given me a heart that can show my true self and accept the way I am, because He accepts me as I am. Now I can connect with others on a heart level because God has made my heart to feel, and for that I am eternally grateful. I am thankful for the friends I have, for the friends I have had that are still in my heart and I believe that God will reunite us again, and I’m thankful for the people God will put in my life to share this life with through the joy and the pain. I’m thankful that my husband is now my friend too and God is connecting us in a deeper way than ever.
Thank you, God, that redemption wins! Love wins! You love us so we can love others and friendships are a beautiful gift from You. Thank You for never giving up on us even when we give up.
Thus, I’m writing right now because I am a Believer. Though I’ve wished my life away so many times, God sees me as valuable and He has me here on purpose - for purpose. He proved His love for me through Jesus, so I surrender. My life is His - not to hide my true self, but to share all that God has done and is doing for me - even in the struggles. May He have glory in my life.