I have this friend named Heather who is amazing at being transparent and REAL. Friends like that are such a treasure…and today you get to meet her! HAPPY DAY!
Get those tissues ready because this story is likely to move you. God’s love is moving like that. Oh, and what’s awesome is that she doesn’t omit the bad or ugly parts and just give you the good. God’s power shows up best in our weakness….so without further adiu, meet Heather.
“I’ve never been the prettiest, the most athletic or the most popular. I was smart and kind, but floated between groups of friends fighting to find my place in the world. I grew up in the church, knowing right from wrong and believing that sinning would send me to Hell. I served on every church retreat and spent much of my time in church or with church friends. I was the epitome of “a good kid”.
And then it happened….
I went to college. There, I went from a young, naïve, church-going 18 year old, to a raging alcoholic within days. That’s what “cool” kids did. Or so I thought. I very quickly fell into an addiction that began to consume my life. I found myself measuring my worth in how many parties I was invited to and how my guys were paying attention to me. I hated who I was and the life I was living but I felt trapped. I wanted to be liked and I wanted to be loved.
My first semester in college I found myself in a relationship with a man that would later prove to be extremely toxic. He avoided my calls, blatantly cheated on me and made sure I knew I was at his beck and call. I felt worthless, like God was punishing me for the decisions I had made. I began to believe the lies of the Evil One that a relationship like that was all I was worthy of, that I could never have more. However, deep in my soul, I knew that I wanted more, I craved more and yet I was digging a hole deeper and deeper, falling captive to the overwhelming grips of depression.
For three years I lived in this hell, a vicious cycle revolving around drinking and trying get a man to love me, instead he cheated on me every chance he got. I vividly remember sitting in my room crying, writing a list of what I wanted my future husband to look like. It included traits like: Godly, kind, loyal, honest, and trustworthy. I sobbed reading the words in my handwriting knowing that this man I was trying so hard to impress didn’t possess any of the qualities I wanted in a husband and also feeling unworthy that I deserved someone who did.
During college I also worked at a local gym and every time I went go to work I would see this man working out. He was quiet, kind and focused. I didn’t know his name or anything about him, but my heart would beat a little faster every time he walked by. I would joke with my co-workers that if I could marry anyone, I would marry him. One day I made this comment to an aerobics instructor I had befriended, when she responded “That’s my son”. I was embarrassed but it didn’t matter, I was still in a “relationship” and why would a guy like that ever look twice at a girl like me.
In early August, right before my senior year of college, my “boyfriend” broke up with me for what seemed like the 100th wants someone who is broken. But the amazing thing about God is that He fixes broken and makes it new again.
That same week, the man from the gym that I had a crush on for over 3 years asked me on a date. We went out and God forever changed the course of my life.
Through Josh, God began to provide hope again. God quietly spoke, “you are worthy”, and I begin to listen. But the voice of the Evil One loudly returned often in the beginning…”he will leave you too”, “you aren’t good enough”, “you’ll never be pretty enough, skinny enough, rich enough”. But Josh would remind me again and again that
those were lies and God’s voice began to get louder.
I started to feel God’s encouragement and Josh continued to challenge me in my faith. For one of the first times in a long time I felt loved, love from a man who showed unconditional support and an even greater love. His love mirrored the love of the Father God who had loved me unconditionally from the very beginning.
Josh possessed every quality on the list I had written so many years before. He was the man I had prayed for night after night through tears and desperation and God had answered my prayers in HIS perfect timing.
I wish I could say that once I met Josh that life was easy sailing, but that would be a lie. It wasn’t easy because we are two imperfect humans, so no relationship will ever be without trial. For a long time despite his love and kindness towards me, I constantly worried he would leave me, the Evil One would quietly creep back in. I tried to not let him be close enough to hurt me. I yelled, slammed doors and threatened to give back my ring more than once. I was afraid, guarded and still hated so much of who I was in the past.
I didn’t know how to love or truly be loved. I am so thankful for Josh’s persistence and faith. He wiped my tears when I cried and hugged me when I tried to run away.
As amazing as he is, I serve a God who is even greater, a God that has also been there waiting for me to return to him, crying for me and feeling every hurt that has come my way.
Through a church home, bible studies and many marriage mentors in our lives, God radically changed me and revealed some major truths to me:
1. I am worthy and deserving of being loved because God first loved me
2. God forgives and taught me to forgive myself
3. God can make all things new and beautiful
4. God loves me more than anything and mourns for me
5. God knows and understands what it means to suffer and persevere
This October, Josh and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. It has been an amazing ride and I am so thankful he has stuck by my side all these years. I can honestly say we are experiencing the best years of our marriage thanks to God’s redeeming love and the commitment we have for each other.
My journey has not always been easy or glorious, but I know now that God has written my story so that it may bring someone else hope or healing in the midst of despair.”
Who is someone who has shown you unconditional love? Has it changed you?