“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’”
— Hosea 2:6-7
Hi! I’m Elizabeth (or Liz or Lizzy or yes even Newsie) and I have been told that I write really conversationally. My teachers usually hate it, but I think it works well for this type of thing. So this, this is my story.
I grew up in a Christian home. I grew up knowing who Jesus was, knowing that church was a Sunday thing, and knowing that I was a sinner. I don’t remember having a major recollection in my life where I remembered I had messed up.
I do remember when I decided to actually be apart of this Jesus thing, though. I was 5, hanging out with my best friend (a lovely girl who is still super involved in my life and my walk with Christ, she’s a gem) on my porch and she goes, “Liz, you’re not my best friend.”
*cue the tears*
Quickly she consoled me, reminding me that I was her best friend here on earth, it was just that she had this new best friend and His name was Jesus. In the only response a five year old can have, I decided any best friend of hers was a best friend of mine, and asked around how I could know this Jesus dude. And while I have no doubt that this was the day I was saved, I hadn’t been through any gunk, right? Like I knew that Jesus died for me and rose from the dead and death was conquered and I was forgiven of all the times I sinned. But I didn’t get the whole Jesus in my place, Father to all, Great I AM part of the Jesus thing.
I was saved, but I hadn’t surrendered control of everything, Jesus had my Sundays and my heart that was all He needed to do His thing right?
It took me a while to figure out that in fact, I was wrong, I was very wrong. Jesus didn’t only ask for my heart and my Sundays, He asked for my all. That meant my stories, my dance, my song, my friends, my photography, and yes even boys, my family, my future, and most importantly my identity. Everything was to be His.
I went through a dark time in junior high, and yeah I know ‘junior high is awful for a lot of people, it’s pretty rough’ I get it, but I wasn’t just struggling with figuring out who I was, I was trying to figure out if I even mattered to God at all. I thought maybe I was just another tally or something, I forgot I was a special child of The King who was loved and cherished. Forgetting that meant I let others treat me like a tally and I treated me like I was nothing more than a number or face. Not being special meant I had no purpose. That is a dark place to be, friends.
I won’t go into detail about my gunk. Quite frankly, it’s rather sad and depressing. It was arguably the lowest point of my life, and being in a dark place led me to a lot of pain physically and emotionally as well as spiritually. I was the furthest away from God because I wasn’t living like He had called me to.
I used Him as fire insurance instead of pursuing Him in a relationship. Because He was fire insurance, His opinion of me was rather unimportant to me. I didn’t know who He said I was, and I was treating myself and letting others treat me like I was the complete opposite of who I was in Him.
I had some help getting to the remembering part. Getting to the point where I said “okay, yes I am a child of God and He loves me and I am special and unique and beautiful and He has given me gifts, but they are to praise Him. My only identity is in God. He is all I need,” was obviously a crucial change in my life. This was the catalyst to my surrender point.
Surrender came shortly thereafter. There’s a universal sign for surrender, you probably know it. It’s both hands open and in the air. It’s to show that you aren’t hiding anything. That was the position I took the summer after my eighth grade year. Kneeling before the King with both hands open in the air. It was a position of humility and praise and yes, surrender. I realized this crazy thing called life isn’t something I could do or even wanted to do alone.
I would love to tell you that I held that position from that moment on. That I stayed in the presence of God and totally surrendered all of the time, but that would be a lie. I ran and I failed often and usually it was pretty bad. I messed up and forgot who I was. I am the epitome of the prodigal son. I like to run in some seasons of my life. Thankfully though, those seasons are ended by a God who stands with arms wide open waiting for me to come home. As I get older and become more aware of the power of God in my life and the importance of being in His presence, those seasons also become fewer and are more far apart. That doesn’t mean they never happen, though.
I’m not sure I will ever totally have my life together. Really, I’m going to mess up a lot. But total surrender and trust in God means that no matter what the future holds, I know I’ll be okay. Even if it’s not okay or it’s hard, He is still God and He is still good. I have a God that is bigger than the boogie man, so I know that He is big enough to cover anything that happens in my life. That same God says I am special and made for a reason. He says I am loved and beautiful and forgiven. And my God? He is truth, so He most certainly speaks it.