Today I am participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries' blog hop as we study A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. This is an online Bible Study which will be taking place over the next eight weeks.
This post's topic is the point when I fully surrendered my life to Christ. Renee talks about this experience in her own life throughout chapter 3 of her book.
Reading Renee's story, I found so many similarities between the two of us. I spent much of my life looking to things other than a life surrendered to Christ to fill me and fulfill me. Sex, drugs, alcohol, you name it. I dated many different boys throughout high school and college, thinking that if I found the right relationship, I would be content.
Although I grew up in the church, I never fully understood that having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ also meant trusting him with my heart, relinquishing control, and having faith that his will for my life is always the best path. I left the church as a teenager because of anger toward God… anger because of the abuse that a dear friend had experienced at the hands of my childhood pastor, anger because of the drug addition my brother was, and still is, under the shadow of, anger at my parents for being enablers instead of enforcing consequences, anger at myself for never fitting into the cliques at youth group and school.
So I ran… I ran far away from God and tried to immerse myself into the college life, which for me mostly meant parties and boys. And drugs. Lots of alcohol. Some studying here and there.
One of the first major turning points in my life came when I met my husband. He reached his time of surrender a year before meeting me, and after going on only a few dates, I could picture myself marrying him. He was unlike any person I'd ever met. We married after about three years together and throughout that time I could feel God pursuing me. I began going to church every now and then. I sent up a prayer here and there. But I still wasn't ready. I was trying to behave, to stay clean, to live a life I felt was worthy. Of what? I don't know. I just didn't get it. I couldn't grasp what I was missing.
There were two major events which catapulted me into the realization that I needed God in the deepest way. That I would seek Him and find Him when I searched with all my heart.
The first was a cross-country move to Utah. I had lived in the same place, Columbia, South Carolina, my entire life. Utah is very different culturally than the "Bible Belt" of the south. The second was the birth of my son, which coincided with the death of my grandmother, and sent me into a long battle with postpartum depression.
Anti-depressants left me feeling worse and unable to sleep in my already zombie-like state. Exercise helped my mood but couldn't fill the void in my life.
God continued his pursuit of me. A series of messages entitled "God is Bigger…" at the church we'd been attending really resonated in my heart. A friend and follower of Jesus reached out. She didn't look like the typical "Christian" that I'd stereotyped them to be. I finally admitted I needed help with my depression and began seeing a Christian therapist.
I was sitting on the living room coach of our home in Utah, after putting our son to bed, reading "The Purpose Driven Life" with my husband when I made the decision to follow Jesus with everything that I had…heart, soul and mind. To live a life surrendered. It was time. There was a chapter where he extended an invitation and I took it.
I made the choice to leave my life of ruins and come to the living water which never runs dry.
I remember the first chapter of that book hitting me like a freight train. "It's Not About You." Wow. How convicting. How liberating. How freeing to not have to think about myself so much. To get over my own neurosis. To realize that I have a purpose that has nothing to do with my self-loathing and everything to do with glorifying the God of the Universe. A God who loves me and cares for me so much He sent his son to die in my place.
Since that day on November 10, 2009, I've realized that God is sovereign even when I don't understand my circumstances. That despite my control-freak tendencies, my life is in his hands and there is freedom found in knowing He's at the wheel. He is a big God who will reveal Himself to me when I earnestly seek Him.
It is a day by day process. There are so many distractions begging to divert my attention from the One who gives me peace. But I'm learning. Each step. Each leg of the race. I will keep my eyes on Him. I will let him mold me to become the woman He made to be.