I reached the point of salvation when I was six. I was on the sofa with my Dad asking him questions about what the guy said at Bible study the night before. One of my brothers was playing Zelda on the floor in front of us, and my mom was in the kitchen cooking breakfast. I remember those inconsequential details more than what exactly I prayed. But what I remember with crystal clarity is that from that day forward, my young heart knew I belonged to God and regardless of the future I would never be without Him. That’s where this story, His and mine, begins.
The loving, conservative home of my childhood never offered an alternative to the fact that God exists. Praying together, studying scripture, discussing commentaries, and other religious works were just a part of living. He was evident, He was real, and He was part of our family. Looking back now, I love my upbringing. From age 7 to age 16, though, I was unbelievably angry at God. In fact, I hated Him. You see, I was born with a Neurogenic Stutter. Basically, this means that physically speaking is hard for me. Opening my mouth to speak always clenched my gut with fear. It’s much better now. Twelve years of speech therapy and a lifetime of Christ’s unfailing love had a wonderful impact on me. But when I was young? I spent most of my time blushing and hiding from people. To this day I can remember the laughter of peers and adults who didn’t understand my situation. As I grew older I blamed every instance of embarrassment and shame on God. In my mind, it was His fault that I stuttered. I was His child, and He had made a mistake in creating me. Comparison was my constant companion; I held my life up to that of everyone else’s, and I always found myself wanting. I wasn’t good enough. I sought a sense of wholeness in anything I could: habitual sins, video games, and the literary world. If I couldn’t have the life I wanted I could escape into other things, right? Rather than face my demons and deal with my inner shortcomings, I turned my mind to the search of the perfect husband and the perfect adult life. If I couldn’t carry on a normal conversation, I could at least have a life that looked good, right?
As is consistent with many, God had a very different plan for me. He wrecked me in a very real and very big way. When I was 16 the Jesus “rehab” started. I met two young women around my age who Christ used to restructure my way of thinking. They were patient with my speech, they validated my heart, and they never judged my failings. Something that my broken heart couldn’t understand was that no part of the version of me which they approved of had anything to do with me. I was a daughter of Christ and that was enough for them to love me without condition or expectation. Christ used these two to tell me that I was enough. I am still lucky enough to call them dear and wonderful friends. But this story isn’t about them. They are merely tools that God, the love of my life, used to romance me.
From then on, I was a changed woman. I started to see that precious love in every area of my life. I began to realize that the Lord never left me, never stopped loving me, and never failed me. When I took my focus off of myself and looked around at the life He established for me, I realized that who I was, what I looked like, and what I sounded like didn’t matter. I was freed of so much that had bogged me down before, and I made a startling discovery: God is the only thing that ever mattered. He saw fit to die for me, and the identity I gained from His act mattered. His love is complete and real. It is the only thing in this life that will wholly sustain. It is the only thing that makes life truly worth living. The more I learned of His character, the deeper I fell in love. He enticed me to pursue Him. I found a world between His arms that had been waiting for me. He took all of my misguided preconceptions and broke me of them. He taught me who He is and all of the different kinds of love that He has to offer. Now as I continue to pursue Him He daily encourages me to choose to see my stutter, past mistakes, and pain in a different light. They are tools I can use to glorify my King and the lover of my soul. Using what I had viewed as curses, I could now counsel and console my fellow believers. These tools are blessings I am privileged to use for His glory. Am I perfect? No. Not even a little. I still mess up. I still sin. There are still times that I’m not thrilled with God. But I love Him and I know that He loves me. I am committed to Him fully. In so many ways, He saved me. Not only did he save me from the fires of hell, but He also saved me from myself. Cliché as it may sound, that perfect life partner I was looking for was right there beside me all along. I just needed to open my eyes to see Him.