I have the stereotypical story of: girl-meets-boy, girl-experiences-breakup, and now Jesus is her boyfriend. I had became the girl I used to to laugh at and felt so ashamed because of it. When I first came (crawling) back to Christ and Christianity, let me tell you the level of shame I had was UNREAL. I had been away for so long I felt that it was written on me in permanent marker. That I would walk through the doors of any church and surely they would know that I had not been connected to Christ. That my Bible was covered in dust and I could not remember the last time I had step foot in a church. I didn't even bother going on Easter or Christmas. My view on church and Christ was so screwed up that I came in with the expectation that God and His people could see the sin I was "carrying". I grew up thinking that God was some angry mystical being that reigned down judgement on everyone if they so much as sneezed the wrong way. I was scared of God, and not the type of scared that shows respect, no, legit scared. But during that breakup I was so desperate and lonely for some form of connection and a little stabilization that I returned to what I knew, what was familiar: Church.
Growing up in church, I had A LOT of Christian friends, and in hindsight... we were not the most loving, open armed group of Christians, calling myself out first. At times we were judgmental, petty, self-serving and attention-seeking, but we loved God and sang his praises daily, so we were "good". I remember among our group there was a pride around having the spirit of discernment, but instead of using that gift to encourage and uplift others, we used it as a justification to judge and a barrier against people who didn't make sense. Hence my: everyone-can-see-my-sin theory when I came back to church. On top of that, I didn't have a true understanding of Jesus, the Bible, God or anything else that went along with Christianity. Remember, in my mind, God is this mystical creature that's just angry all the time at sinners so I would go to church, listen to the message, but none of it made sense and certainly none of it became applicable in my life. I was younger, so my "biggest sin" to date at that point was probably lying, so surely the preacher wasn't talking to me. I was a pretty good kid growing up, didn't get in much trouble and generally I stayed out the way. For the majority of my life I lived a sheltered suburban life with pastors as parents in a small city in Delaware where the hangout spot was the mall. Before that I was Air Force brat living on a military institution overseas where my Dad could get fired if I cut up.
See where I am going with this? There was no trouble to be had!
The town was small so stealing and buying liquor underage was out of the question.
I was an only child so no one to cover for me if I missed curfew.
I've always been a little bit of a late bloomer so boys weren't really that interested in me.
Essentially, my life was set up so that I couldn't get in trouble or make mistakes at a young age, so I didn't understand the struggles of people my age who had other "sins". I didn't understand how my 18 year old friend claimed to love Jesus but was pregnant with their second child, or how the organ player went from playing keys Sunday morning to flirting with the girl from the Alto section who was clearly married. It was easy to judge others from the sins that I couldn't relate to because I hadn't experienced them.... yet.
Then College Happened
I hit a bit of a stride in college: the bloom happened, I had a steady job and boys were finally interested (I giggle at this now). I had a car, so I could go places and do things with my new more experienced college friends. I was still underage, but I had friends that weren't, so drinking and drugs were on the table too (nothing hardcore, you can breathe Mom) and of course sex was introduced as well. Through ALL of this, the conviction of "sinning" and then waking up to go to church was too much a burden to bear (because remember that spirit of discernment my friends had... surely they could see all my sins) so I drew back. Little by little by little, until I just straight up stopped going. Which, as a PK (Preacher's Kid) is kind of a big deal. Conveniently, around this time I deemed myself as half-grown and moved to Maryland on my own with no parental supervision checking for me. Honey I was free.
So I Thought...
The entire time of me being away from Christ there was this nagging (annoying) pull to get back to church, that over time, I became less sensitive to, however was always still there. I felt lost during this time however chalked that up to that weird period young adults go through right after graduating college and setting out on their own. I "knew" Jesus, and as a PK, I "did my time" for years, showing up every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, so what's a couple of years off right?
In hindsight I was a MESS without Jesus. Legit, no other way around it: MESS. I had some fun times during that period, but I also had some lost and dark times that I wouldn't want to experience again. When I came back to Christ and started studying His word and building a faith of my own, I realized how my screwed up my previous views of Christ and God were. God wasn't some pissed off mystical being, He's a supernatural being that full of nothing but love and grace for His people and wants nothing more than for ALL of us to experience the promises He has in store for us. That He loves the sinner and the saint just the same. That God craves such a relationship with us, that He sent His Son (Jesus Christ) to die in our place for our sins (John 3:16) so that we could be connected. That Jesus literally loves us so much that He paid a debt we couldn't pay. My life in Christ is nothing but a testimony of how jacked up I was (still am), yet how perfect and loving God is and there's no need to be ashamed about that. The only conviction that I need to feel is not for the mistakes I've made (and will make), but to love people better, as He loved me.
I've lived life a little now. I have made mistakes and will make plenty more, and the reason I can live unashamed in Christ is that I know God will love me through each and every one of them. That there is literally NOTHING I could have done or could ever do that would change the love He has for me. That I am desperate and lost without Him. Which is why I study everyday, which is why I'm at church or around "church people" everyday. It's my public declaration that I am nothing without God, but with Him I am more than enough. It's me, acknowledging, every day, that I am lost without Him.
I need more of Jesus, every single day because I have experienced life without Him and I don't want to do it again.
That's why I am unashamed.