Before I accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, I had trouble enjoying life.
I lived in fear, sadness, anger, guilt. A strong victim mentality hindered my growth; I shouldered blame for things I didn’t do, and spent time feeling sorry about the way I turned out. Time spent covering lies and feeling paranoid that I’d be found out was significant.
I wasn’t a criminal, and on the outside I looked perfectly happy, well-adjusted. Inside was a different story. I felt alone; there was no one to forgive me for my wrongdoings, no one to comfort me, nothing that filled me with peace when I righted things on my own. I held people at arms’ length; trust was an issue.
Uncertainty was the reigning theme of my life. I didn’t know what was right and what was wrong, and I was fearful of the future. Adrift in the darkness, and without a focal point to steady me, I fell frequently.
It was no way to live.
Rebellion is a potent drug – it makes us feel special to know that we’re living on the edge of the norm. Toeing the line and crossing it feel normal after a while. Eventually you feel as if nothing can touch you and nobody can see you. It becomes true. Few people can spot a rebel because a rebel spends a lot of time hiding behind a façade. A rebel sneaks around, thinking she is without limits or boundaries, but she creates her own walls by trying to hide. This is how my life looked when I rebelled against God.
I wish I could say that the moment I stepped out in faith, the instant I accepted the gift of Jesus’ salvation, that the switch clicked off and flushed all of these awful feelings away. It didn’t; established patterns of behavior are hard to divert. It takes work and maturity and determination to change the way we live. That my current way of life wasn’t working so well made it easier. Major life changes that happened during that time were natural new beginnings, too – a good time to make changes in life and heart.
When I opened my eyes and saw that life could be different – better – when I accepted God’s will, I moved forward. No longer was I glancing over my shoulder to see what lie I might get caught in, scrambling to shore up another part of the crumbling wall I had shoddily built. I became certain that as long as I kept my eyes on him, I could live out in the open, even despite my faults. When I realized that I could acknowledge them and ask for forgiveness for my wrongdoings, I could move on, even more determined to do better, to live more honorably.
When we expose our truths to each other, ourselves, and God, we heal and become whole. We shed our self-made uncertainties and fears and reach toward a new way of life, one that we can freely enjoy.
When we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, we each become who God intended us to be. It starts with having faith that God wants what's best for us. We will know what to do. He will show us when we believe.
Of this I am certain.