MY TESTIMONY OF GRACE
By: Amy Schultz
It seems like whenever I talk to someone who doesn't have a personal relationship with God about how awesome He is, His incredible mercy, how much He has changed my life and turned it upside down, how much He wants to know and love you, etc., I always hear the following statements: " You just don't understand what I have done. I can't ask God into my heart. He would never take me."
That statement breaks my heart every time I hear it, because I know what it is like to feel like you are so dirty and filthy, and that you have done too many bad things for God to ever love you. But I am here to tell you that is a lie from the devil to keep you in bondage!! If God loved me enough to forgive me for all of the horrible things that I had done in my past, then He can surely do the same for you!
You're right; I may not know all of the specifics of your past. That is not important. What I do know is that my God is a loving God who wants to wrap you in His grace, mercy and love (no matter what it is that you have done).
You may say to yourself, "I don't deserve to be forgiven." I say to you, that we are all sinners and none of us deserve to be forgiven. But God loved us so much that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die on the cross and pay for all of our sins with His blood. It is by that sacrifice that God extends His mercy to us and saves us from ourselves.
There is only one catch: We have to come to Him and ask for His forgiveness, accept that Jesus, God's Son, died on the cross for our sins, and accept God into our lives as our Lord and Savior. Such a simple request if you really think about it.
The following is my testimony of grace. It is intended to demonstrate how God can totally heal and change anyone's life, regardless of your past.
It all began for me when I was sixteen. One of my good friends, Mary, asked me if I would like to go to church with her. When I said yes, I had no idea of the events that this one simple act would set into motion.
I remember that when I got there, I was really scared. She had forgotten to tell me that the church that she attended had about three thousand members! Luckily, for me, it was a Wednesday night, and the youth group met separately in another room.
Now I had been to church when I was little. I had even tried playing Christian when I was older, but none of my previous experiences prepared me for what I was about to experience. You see, I had never been in a room full of born again, on fire, spirit filled Christians!
We began the evening with praise and worship. I was excited about this part because being a musician, I felt a natural draw to it. But when the music began, it was like an explosion had gone off in the room. Everyone was jumping up and down clapping their hands, singing, and dancing before the Lord!
My mouth dropped open and I just stood there looking around in amazement. It was like being at a rock concert! I had never seen anything like it in my life. Mary must have noticed my bewildered expression, because she just put her hand on my shoulder, smiled, and said, " It's o.k. Just do what you're comfortable with. No one is watching you."
A few songs later, just as I was starting to adjust to the fact that people were actually celebrating the Lord, the music and the mood changed. As I looked around the room, people all over, had their arms stretched out to God. Most of them had their eyes closed and they had these expressions of such love on their faces. It was like they were singing a love song to God, like they actually knew Him!
Now I had never seen anything like that in my life, and I didn't really understand it. I knew that they believed that God was real, but what I saw was more that that, it was like they had an intimate relationship with Him. It was like they could feel His very presence in the room. How could they actually feel Him, how could they possibly know someone who had died so many years ago? I had so many questions that I felt as if I was about to burst. Little did I know that it was the Holy Spirit beginning to touch my heart.
The night was just beginning though, and it was time for my next shock of the evening. Now I had been to church before, so I knew the routine. After worship came the prayer, but as it turned out, I wasn't prepared for that either.
We were all nicely praying along with the pastor, when all of a sudden, I noticed that we weren't all speaking in the same language. In fact, I wasn't sure that we were all speaking a language at all! I wondered to myself, what is going on here, I had heard that there were groups that did this, but I was always told that they were weird fanatics and not to get involved with them.
Yet I certainly didn't think that my friend was weird, or a fanatic. Actually she was one of the nicest people that I had ever met. She must have known how uncomfortable I was, because she pulled me aside before we split into our small groups and explained that what I had just heard was called speaking in tongues and explained to me why people pray like that. She also showed me some scripture on it. Even though I still didn't completely understand it, I figured that since it was in the Bible, that it must be o.k. (even if it was a little weird).
My mind was in such a whirl with all that was going on, that I don't know if I really even heard the sermon. All I know is that at the end of the service when the pastor began to speak about how much God loves me that my heart started beating so fast and hard that I thought that it would come out of my chest. I accepted God into my heart that night and took my first steps on a new and exciting journey in my life.
Over the year, my faith grew and I became filled with the Holy Spirit and began praying in tongues. Things in my life that used to be important to me suddenly began to fall away, and I had this raging fire burning inside of me to serve God.
This all continued until my senior year of high school. I will never forget the day that I received the shocking news that one of my best friends had committed suicide. It was like time stood still. I felt like I was standing outside of my body staring at it just wondering who this person was.
It was after my last class of the day and I was on my way to my locker when my friend Angie stopped me and said that she needed to talk to me. I could tell by the way that she had said it that it wasn't good news. She was also the drum major of our band and the first game was in two days. The band director had been threatening all week that if we didn't learn our stuff that he would pull us from the show for the week.
Well, I had just switched instruments, and was struggling with one part of the drill, so I figured that she was going to tell me that I wasn't going to be marching. I couldn't have been farther from the truth. Nothing could have prepared me for the words that I was about to hear come out of her mouth.
You see, both of us were in leadership positions on the band council, and as such we had certain duties to carry out for the band. Unfortunately, one of our burdens became to keep the lid on our friend's suicide until more information was known about it.
She took me to a quiet place in the school where she proceeded to say to me, " I don't know how to tell you this, so I am just going to say it. I'm sorry, but Kristin committed suicide last night. She hung herself from her parents ceiling fan above their bed with the telephone cord. They tried to revive her, but it was too late. She is in the hospital in a coma."
I couldn't believe that this was happening. I had to be dreaming. Kristin was one of my best friends, and had been since middle school. Surely she would have told me if something were bothering her. In fact I had just seen her the night before. We had made plans to do something after the game on Friday.
The next thing I knew, Angie was helping me up off the floor, I guess I had collapsed. There were books and papers everywhere. As we picked everything up, I told her that I would tell the other two members of the council, because we had already had plans to meet later that night.
I hardly remember driving over to Mary's house. I was in complete shock. I went back in forth between driving in a complete daze to sobbing so hard that I could hardly see where I was going. When I got there Mary wasn't home yet. It was Brenda, Mary's mom who answered the door and let me in.
She knew immediately that something was very wrong, so she sat me down and asked me if I wanted to talk about it. When I was done, we were both in tears on the living room floor just holding each other. She began to pray to God and as she did I felt this flood of peace just wash over me.
It was not long after this that Mary got home. I was very relieved to see that she was with Liz (the other girl that I had to tell) because this meant that I only had to explain the situation one more time, at least until I got home.
After we had all finished crying, Brenda began to explain to us that to take your own life is a sin and that especially since she was still alive, that it was very important for us to stand in the gap for her. So the battle for her soul began.
We set up a twenty-four hour chain prayer/fast that began at that very moment. It was very difficult at first because there were only four of us, but we made sure that every hour of the day was covered. When we were finally released to tell people, it became much easier because we could not only spread the time out, but there were enough people to even double up. The prayer chain was just the beginning. We also went up to the hospital and anointed her with oil, laid hands on her, and prayed for her.
Unfortunately, Kristin had been very involved with hypnotism, tarot cards, and psychics. With all the warfare we were doing, the backlash wasn't far behind. During this time we were buffeted by many attacks from the enemy. They ranged from petty annoyances to the all too real and unwelcome visits at our weakest moments.
Being a baby Christian, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into (not that it would have changed things if I had). I would lock myself in my room for hours and just pray and read the Bible. Looking back on it, I know that it is a good thing that I did, because I would have opened myself to some serious attacks from the enemy if I hadn't.
Kristin died in the beginning of October. She spent almost two months in a coma. Right before she died, God gave me a dream. In the dream, I was talking to Kristin, and she was telling me not to worry, that everything was o.k.
When I woke up, I remember feeling very peaceful about everything. Of course, I also wondered if I had that dream just because it was what I wanted to hear. When I got to school that morning, before I could even say anything, Liz came running up to me and said, " Amy, I had the weirdest dream last night!" After she finished telling me about her dream, my mouth dropped to the floor. It was exactly like the dream that I had.
I had just finished explaining to her that I had the same dream when Mary came running up to us saying, "I'm so glad that you two are here, you're never going to believe the dream I had last night!" Liz and I just grinned a knowing grin and listened as she repeated word for word the dream that the two of us had just shared with each other. We just started laughing, which of course we then had to explain to Mary, because she didn't see the humor in the situation at all.
It was later that morning that we received a phone call at school letting us know that Kristin had died, but we knew better, we knew that she was just beginning her life in Heaven. All we could do was rejoice in the Lord.
That may sound strange to you. Here we had all just lost someone who was very dear to us, and we were celebrating. But if you look at it from our point of view, you will see it differently. She was in the arms of our Heavenly Father! How could we not be happy for her?
During those two months, my faith in God grew incredibly strong. It was only two weeks after Kristin died that I decided to get baptized, and when it came time to declare to the congregation why I wanted to be baptized, all that I could do was to thank God for His wonderful love and grace. I thought that I was on fire for God before I was baptized, but when I came up from that water, I just had to shout to the Lord because I couldn't contain the joy and the fire that was burning within me.
Over the school year, my faith continued to grow and God continued to bless me in so many ways that I can't even begin to describe them here. I'll just give you a couple of examples.
First, I wanted to be on Michigan State University's drum line more than anything, but it was almost impossible for someone who hadn't played percussion for years to make it. I had only played for one year and there were only three openings for the position that I wanted. I made it.
I also had the opportunity to go to Europe for almost two months in the summer, but it was going to cost me three thousand dollars that I certainly didn't have because I was trying to save for college. Well, God provided that too. There were a few friends of the family that really wanted to see me go and they paid for my whole trip. All I had to come up with was spending money! Those are only two of the many things that God blessed me with that year.
Up until now, things in my life had gone pretty smoothly. I had relied on God to see me through the roughest part of my life and I was rewarded with a passionate desire to seek Him and an incredible faith in His ability to provide whatever I needed. Then I went to college and my whole life changed.
I was from a very small rural town, so you can imagine the culture shock I went through my first few weeks on a Big Ten College campus! I was exposed to things that I had never even imagined existed. One thing about a big college campus is that if you want it, you can probably get it, and I mean everything from alcohol and any drug imaginable to any kind of sexual encounter that you are interested in. Nothing is too taboo in this setting.
Sure, there are people who may not like or agree with what you are doing, but no one is going to stop you from participating in these alternative lifestyles. In fact, friends often encourage you to expand yourself by trying new drugs and participating in casual sex, orgies, and homosexuality. I am not naïve enough to say that every college campus is like this, and some are more overt than others, but to a young person who has led a sheltered life, college can be a very dangerous place.
I was so excited when I went to college. I was learning about something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life (music), and I had made the MSU drum line! The band spends so much time together (about five hours a day plus Saturdays) that it is quite normal that almost every person dates someone that is in the band. I was no exception to that rule.
About one month after I got there, I began dating this guy on the drum line. His name was "Anonymous" and he was a junior. He used to walk me to my classes, take me out to dinner and the movies, take me to the band parties (which was nice because neither one of us drank), and in general, just treated me like a queen, at first.
This was just the side that everyone else saw, the front. Sure, he was like that at first with me too. He needed to capture me, but it didn't take long before I was completely isolated from my other friends. When he had succeeded in that, the abuse began.
"Anonymous" was very controlling. He knew exactly where I would be every minute of my day, and no deviations were accepted. If I wasn't home when I was supposed to be and he called (which he did at the same time everyday) then I would be treated to a torrent of verbal abuse about how inconsiderate I was. It didn't matter what the reason was. It could be that my class had gotten out late, if I didn't call him with any deviation in my schedule I could plan on being yelled and screamed at for at least fifteen minutes.
You may say to yourself, " Well I would never put up with that!" Or "That will never happen to me!" I've got news for you though, I said those same things. "If I was that woman, I'd just leave. She's so stupid to stay with him." Let me tell you, it isn't ever that easy. If it were, no women would ever be involved in abusive relationships.
Anyone who knows me will be the first to tell you that I am not a weak person, and I never have been. In fact, I really don't like to be told what to do (not that I don't submit to the proper authority), but I was the last one who my friends thought would ever be in this type of situation. This just goes to show you that it can happen to anyone.
"Anonymous" had me isolated before I even knew what had happened. I felt like I had nowhere to turn. He had made me feel like I needed him to survive at school. In fact, because he treated me so well when people were around, I was constantly being told how lucky I was to have someone like him. I had been brainwashed into thinking that I couldn't do anything without him!
Not only that, but you have to add in the fear factor in these type of relationships. Not only was I afraid of not having him there, I was afraid of him. You see, I had found out that in one of his tirades with an ex-girlfriend of his that he had broken her jaw. I was afraid that if I ever crossed him that he would physically hurt me. He never raised a hand to me, but the threat was always there. So I continued to play the good little girlfriend and just did what I was told.
Things went on like this for several months. It was the end of the semester and "Anonymous" had picked me up from one of my classes and insisted on driving me to his apartment. We had been dating for quite awhile and he had never tried to be pushy sexually, plus his roommates were going to be at the apartment, so I trusted him when he told me that everything would be o.k.
We got there and I told him that I really needed to study for my final exam the next day. I was hoping that he would take me home if I said that. Instead he promised me that he and his roommates would leave me alone and let me study.
He made me dinner while I studied, and he and his roommates lived up to their words and let me study until dinner. I had gotten more comfortable, but I was still hoping that after dinner that he would take me home. No such luck. At some point after dinner I wanted to take a nap because I had gotten sleepy from studying. Unfortunately, "Anonymous" had other ideas.
He let me sleep for a little bit. I felt safe because our other friends were in the room and because "Anonymous" had never tried to take advantage of me before. This time, however, was different. I woke up to "Anonymous" kissing me. I, of course, was not very pleased by this, and told him to stop. He didn't. He just said something to the effect of, you know you like it, just relax.
Well, I didn't like it, and I didn't relax, but it didn't change anything. He just continued to do what he wanted. I was raped that night by someone who I knew and trusted, and the worst part about it was that one of my friends who I went to high school with was in the room. He just turned his head and looked the other way.
The whole time it was happening, all I could think was, " This isn't happening to me!" I felt stupid for letting myself get into that situation. How could I have been so stupid!
When it was over I wanted to go home, but "Anonymous" wouldn't take me. He made me spend the night with him. The next morning when I go up to take my shower; I scrubbed myself so hard I thought all of my skin would come off. I felt worthless and dirty and I wondered how anyone could ever love someone like me. These are the lies that the enemy told me that night. He tried to destroy me over the next few years with these lies, and he almost succeeded.
Then came the "talk". Before we left for my final exam, "Anonymous" said to me, " I think that we should talk about last night." I told him that I didn't feel like there was anything to say. To which he basically weaved this whole chain of thoughts into my mind that would leave me to believe that I wanted everything that had happened.
Luckily, after my final exam was over, I was going out of state to see one of my very good friends whom I had met on my trip to Europe the summer before. When I was done talking to her about "Anonymous", she looked at me and said, "What are you doing with this guy?" That one little statement and some time away to think was all that I needed to end that relationship.
After I was raped, I went into a rage. I was so angry that I couldn't even contain it. I blamed God because if He really loved me, He wouldn't have let that happen to me. This began some of the most difficult times of my life, because now I had turned my back on God.
In my mind, my worst fear had become a reality, so it didn't matter to me what I did anymore. Although it took me years to admit to myself or to anyone else what had happened, it took its toll on my emotions. I found myself exploding at people for no reason. It didn't take much to set me off, I just couldn't control myself. The rage had to come out some way, and since I buried the whole incident, it came out in other areas of my life.
I also started drinking, partially to take the edge off of the pain and anger. But mostly I drank because I knew that it would upset "Anonymous". He hated alcohol and anything that he hated, I liked. I didn't drink continuously, but I definitely had a problem. I would often drink by myself, but I could always justify it by saying to myself, "Lot's of people come home from work and have a beer, there's nothing wrong with that." Except for me there was.
You see I wouldn't come home and have a beer. I didn't like beer. I would come home and have not just one, but several mixed drinks. Preferably Long Island Iced Teas, but they were too hard to hide from my roommates, so I usually settled for something with either Vodka or Schnapps because I could conceal it more easily. It went beyond drinking at home though. It didn't take long to discover that if I mixed the right things together properly that I could even get away with drinking during class.
When I would go out with friends, which really wasn't all that often, I would always drink until I was drunk. It was difficult for them to keep an eye on me, however, because not only could I drink a lot, but I also had the ability to hide how drunk I really was. Besides, I could drink most of them under the table, and the best part or maybe the worst part about it for me was that I never had a hang over.
I drank for a lot of reasons. I drank to be social, to feel less inhibited, to escape from my mind, but most of all because I was scared, lonely, and very angry with everyone and everything. Not that you could tell me that at the time, just like every alcoholic, I could find a rational excuse to drink anytime, and the biggest problem for me was that I was extremely adept at hiding what I was doing. Even my friends really had no idea how much I was drinking (not that I would have listened to anything that they had to say anyway).
As you can imagine, I had serious problems bonding with men after that happened. I dated quite a bit and was even engaged for a while, but I would never let them past a certain point in my life. It wasn't safe. Once they reached that point in the relationship, I would always find some petty excuse to break up with them.
I was also struggling with my friendships, mostly because I couldn't control my temper, but I wouldn't let any of them past the "safe zone" that I had built for myself either. I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I had gotten to the point where I didn't even know myself anymore. Not only did I not know myself, but I didn't like myself. In fact I hated myself. I often wondered how anyone could like me because I couldn't stand me. I felt like I was completely alone.
So here I was with only a couple of friends left (who I wouldn't really talk to), afraid of men, hating myself, and horribly lonely. But things had to get worse before they would get better. All I wanted was to feel like someone loved and understood me. Men were definitely out of the question after the rape. I was just too afraid of them, so the logical thing in my mind was to think that maybe I was a lesbian, and I was certainly in the right environment to lead this new lifestyle.
In the beginning, I think that it was the thought of not ever having to be with a man again that was comforting to me. There was a slight drawback to this alternative, however, the thought of having sex with a woman just didn't appeal to me.
In the end it was just that I felt that I didn't deserve to have the type of relationship that I wanted to have with a man, and that no man would ever love me (or make me feel safe), that turned me in this direction. To tell you the truth, I can't even tell you how my relationship with the woman that I dated for eight months got started. All I really remember about our relationship is crying silent tears until I fell asleep every time that we had sex.
The first time that we were together I was so drunk that I didn't even know where I was or what I was doing. I still don't even know everything that happened that night. I had so much to drink that night that I was still drunk the next morning when I got up.
What I do know is that I wanted someone to care about me, and she did. I think I drank the most during that part of my life. I just couldn't handle it because I knew deep down that what I was doing was not what God wanted for me. I just didn't think that I could ever go back to Him.
Most of the time when we had sex, I was drunk, because it made me sick to think about having sex with a woman, let alone to do it. I don't know if I ever would have had sex with her if I hadn't been drunk first. I was good at finding excuses not to, I had a perpetual headache, which was very frustrating to her.
Eventually, I got so numb to it that I just didn't care anymore. I figured that I had messed up my life so badly that God would never take me back. It became a way to punish myself because I felt that I was so unacceptable to everyone (especially to God), that I needed to be punished. These are the times in my life that I remember being the most painful.
When I put myself back in the present again, it is like I was standing outside my body screaming why are you doing this? All the while the voices in my head were saying, "No one will ever love you. You are so filthy, you are a worthless piece of trash." But the worst one of all was the laughing that came with, "God will never take you back now. Look what you have done."
You see, even though I was in total rebellion, once in awhile I would think about God and want to go back to Him. I just felt like I couldn't. I didn't even like myself. How could a holy God possibly see anything of value in me after all the things that I had done? After all it was I who walked away from Him, and I would just have to take my punishment.
What I couldn't see, however, was that in every situation that I went through, God was there. He was crying every one of my tears with me. He was there with His arms outstretched, just waiting for me to come back into His loving embrace, but I wasn't ready yet. I was still punishing myself.
After I broke off my relationship with this woman, I just wanted to get away and start over again, where no one knew me. I knew that some of my friends suspected that I was dating a woman, but I would have just died if any of them had found out. Somehow I thought that by moving, everything would be magically solved, but running never solves anything. Things only got worse.
I only had a few friends in the city that I was moving to and when I got there, I found out that the job that I was going to be doing had fallen through. So now I had no friends and no job. I was so depressed and I had nowhere to turn, but I still wouldn't turn to God because I didn't think I could. God fulfilled my need of a job anyway. He even blessed me with a job where I made more money than I would have if I had been doing the original job that I had. He was and is so faithful to His children.
I still had the problem, however, of not having many friends and of course, I had an added hitch to it. Now I didn't feel like I could bond with men or women, so I didn't and I was lonelier than I was before. I had hit the bottom. I didn't care if I lived or died. In fact, I thought it would be much easier to die. I just didn't care anymore.
I took all kinds of chances. I walked all over the city by myself at all hours of the night because I had already been raped so it didn't matter if it happened again, and if I were killed, then it would be a relief.
I couldn't do anything without wishing that I were dead. Whenever I was cooking I would pick up the knives and hold them to my wrists and think about how easy it would be to end it right there. I even experimented a few times with little cuts just to see what it would feel like.
Of course, I had to stop doing that because my roommate would come home and question me about the marks on my wrists and it was too difficult to try to make up some excuse as to how the cuts got there. So I quickly fell back into my old habit of drinking to numb my senses.
Then one day, I got a phone call. It was Brenda, my friend Mary's mom. I have no idea how she even got my phone number, maybe I even called her. To tell you honestly, I don't remember, I had been drinking as usual.
She started to talk to me about God, and she told me that I should look for a church where I was living. Before we got off the phone, she prayed for me. It was so difficult for me to accept the things that she was saying. I wanted to, but my heart was so hard. I was convinced that no one, especially God, could ever care about me, let alone love me.
Part of me must have been listening though, because I dug my Bible out and started to read it. I decided that maybe she was right; maybe I would feel better if I found a church. After all, it certainly couldn't hurt. I went to a couple of different churches, but I got discouraged very quickly. I was so used to being in a spirit-filled on fire church that when I couldn't find one after a couple of tries, I just gave up and fell into my old ways again. Things just continued to get worse and worse. Looking back it seems like I was just in a continual rage. There was no joy in my life. I was just waiting to die.
A couple of months later, I started my summer job and God brought a friend back into my life whom I had met my first summer at the job. In fact, I had been her boss, and now she was mine. For some reason a few of us were talking about religion one day in our dressing room and she told us that her Dad was a pastor and invited us to come to her church.
I didn't say anything at first, but when I got her alone, I bombarded her with questions about what her church was like. I was so hungry for God. I decided that I was going to go that Sunday. When I walked in the door, I felt something that I hadn't felt in years. It was like I was home. It scared me though, because I was still convinced that I was unlovable, and I didn't want to let anyone close to me.
Her Dad came over and welcomed me and the music minister came running over, when he saw me, and they both said, "So we hear you play saxophone. We have been praying about getting a saxophone player here." I didn't quite know what to say to them. I think that I just looked at the floor as I made a mental note to kill Jenny (my friend) for telling them that.
You see, it had been three years since I had played my saxophone. It was just a reminder of who I used to be. Besides, I didn't even know if I could still play it since it had been so many years. The other problem was that they didn't use any music, and I had never played without music. After a few weeks though, I decided that I might like playing again. It was God tugging on my heart.
Needless to say, I started to play on the worship team. I don't know if anyone really understood how hard that was for me. After not playing for so long, my saxophone felt like something that I had never held before.
That was so painful for me. Things that had come so easily to me before I stopped playing were so difficult. I won't lie, it has been a struggle. Looking back at my life I can see God not only in this situation, but in everything that I have gone through.
The things that I am doing with music now are things that I would have never been able to do before. I would have never been able to take the risk of making a fool of myself, my ego wouldn't let me. But since when I started playing again everything was a struggle, that ego was broken and God has been able to use me to touch people through the music that I play. I have learned to completely trust in Him because He has never left me, not even in my darkest hour.
It's been three years since I have come back to the Lord, and I have done a lot of healing with God's help. I have not arrived yet, I am still a work in progress, but God has been so faithful. He has been faithful to restore everything that I had before I walked away from Him and more. He has shown me how to forgive, how to love, and how to be loved. He has also restored my old dreams (things that I thought were dead), given me new ones, and I haven't even wanted a drink in two years.
God is so faithful in every area. I had been praying that for Him to put someone in my life that I could talk to and for a friend who would understand me. He had to bring them all the way from South Africa, but they both arrived when I needed them the most, a mother and daughter. One is a counselor and the other a musician. Both are radically on fire Christians. They have done more for me than either of them could ever possibly understand. They have become my family.
He has blessed me in so many ways that I can't even begin to count them all. I can see His hand in everything that I do, and in every struggle that I have, I can feel His arms around me carrying me through. The thing is, that I have come full circle, and while I realize that there are some areas of my life that I am still healing in, I have learned that I can trust God because He will always love me and be there for me.
That doesn't mean that I think that I deserve it, because I don't, and it doesn't meant that I won't ever make mistakes again, because I will - I'm human. All that it means is that I have come to the realization that God loves me, and His grace is sufficient for me.
But don't take my word for it, here's what the Bible says: Ephesians 2:8 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God." The Bible defines grace as an undeserved favor or gift; undeserved forgiveness, kindness, and mercy that God gives us. In other words, it is a gift for everyone that only needs to be received. We cannot earn God's love and grace; we already have them.
All we need to do is to accept God into our hearts and confess that we have sinned. Don't believe it could be that simple? Still think that you have messed up too much? Let's look at another scripture, 1 John 1:9 says, " If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
I want to finish by saying to you that God loves you and wants you to be with Him. It doesn't matter what you think you have done, His love is bigger. He loves us more than we could ever understand, and He had already given the ultimate sacrifice for us to prove it, He sent His only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. All that He is waiting for is for you to reach out your hand and call out to Him.
Let me leave you with one final scripture. It is probably one of the most well know scriptures, but it is appropriate. I only have one request, don't just skim through this scripture, embrace it for what it really says. John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, the whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."