Friday, April 08, 2011

I was looking for love in all the wrong places

I felt like I was sneaking out and getting away with something. I was on the top of a mountain at a ski resort with two dozen teen girls. We were having a retreat, and I was the speaker. We spent time playing games, having a spa day, and as we sat in front of a cracking fireplace I told these amazing young women about my high school years and all the mistakes I'd made.

“I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I ended up pregnant ... twice. I thought I'd never find a godly man who would want to be my husband, but God had other plans,” I told them.

I looked around at the faces of the teens as the sat and listened to my story. Part of me wished I had a better story to tell. I wished I'd done everything right. But afterwards, as I spoke with some of the young women, I was thankful God had led me there. Some of them had already made many mistakes and had gone too far with their boyfriends. Many, like I had, doubted if there would ever be a godly guy who'd love them. I was glad to tell them that no matter what they'd done, God had good plans for them … just like He did for me.

My life changed when I accepted Jesus Christ's free gift of salvation. I was a new person—someone who had no more sin and all the potential of Christ in me. Things changed again when I surrendered everything to Jesus. For many years I thought I had to figure out how to serve God. I taught Sunday School, I led Bible Studies, I cooked for church dinners, only to feel overwhelmed and frazzled. Yet, when I really surrendered myself and asked God to show me how He wanted me to serve, He led me to an amazing ministry—speaking to teen girls and teen moms. I discovered that my greatest failures gave me a compassion for these young women. I understood where they were coming from because I used to be where they are.

And that's what's amazing about God. First he saves us, then … as we give our everything to Him … He sets us to serve in the work He's planned for us to do. Ephesians 2:7-10 talks about this:

“Saving is ... God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:7-10 (The Message).

After all my mess ups, it's amazing to know that God had good plans for my life. He's done more amazing things than I could ever imagine! The thing that it took, though, is understanding who I was and who I am. I was a sinner, saved by grace. I am a child of God who is amazed by how He's transformed my life. I am also someone who loved to connect with people. And in an amazing way sharing the ways I've screwed up my life has allowed me to connect with others in ways I hadn't though possible.

God knows me better than anyone else. He loves me more than anyone. How could I have ever doubted He could make something good out of my life? The best decision I ever made was to give Him everything. And as I continue to connect with teen girls, I tell them that.


Tay said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Stories like these always inspire me and encourage me.

It is so amazing to know that God have all of the plans for my life already planned out, no matter how many times I've messed up!

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of some song lyrics I've been loving recently: "A thousand times I've failed / Still your mercy remains / And should I stumble again / Still I'm caught in your grace..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story. Even if its hard, you are changing lives.

Diane Marie Shaw said...

I love how God uses our trials, tribulations and mess ups to help others. We only have to get beyond the fear of letting anyone know what we have done. Being brave enough to share our shame. The shame that He has taken away.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I work with teens at my church as well & I absolutely love it! My teen years weren't exactly the easiest but I think it's those struggles that I went through that helps me understand teens and be able to help them with similar struggles as well. God definitley knows how to use our past struggles and trials to help others dealing with similar things. :) Be blessed! Thanks for sharing your story.