a story marked by grace

this is the story of me. the story of where I began, where I first heard the name of Jesus, and where I am today.

I assumed it appropriate that my first official, real blog post on this new blog should be my story. it’s one that I’ve come to love to tell and I eagerly, vulnerably come here to tell you.

I think that it used to make me nervous because I felt that it was a story about me – that my testimony was actually about myself and that my worth swung in the pendulum of the elaborate or decent or mediocre or sad story that I could tell. when I realized that it isn’t about me at all, that it’s about the love of a Father coming down to a lonely girl who was/is really unworthy, my views of “my” story changed. because really, I’m just a piece, a minuscule part, in the book that He is creating. what an honor it is to be a little sentence.

I was born on May 27th, 1994 in Aiken, SC. I was born to two great parents that get a lot wrong and get a lot right. they are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they do bendover backwards to give me and my siblings the best. I have an older brother that is 6 years older than I am and a younger sister that is 3 years younger than I am [middle child syndrome sums me up for sure].

I grew up quiet and slow. I think that I always had an older soul and I’ve always been an introvert, so 5 years old – 10 years old was weird. hahaha. I had friends, but usually stuck to myself. I remember being so sensitive and wanting everyone to like me.

backtrack a little to when I was 7 – my parents sat my siblings and I down to tell us that they were getting a divorce. I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. to be totally honest, I wasn’t really sad about it. there weren’t any knockdown, drag out fights, they weren’t abusive, they didn’t do anything inherently wrong that I knew. from my 7 year old mind, it just wasn’t working. and that was okay.

from there, I saw a number of things in various environments. I saw a lot of alcohol, saw a lot of sex, saw a lot of brokenness. I was hurt by people easily because I was sensitive and my goal was always to please my parents, which proved to be hard sometimes. I began cheering in kindergarten and didn’t quit until I finished high school. I was quiet, cheerleading was not. I was shy, cheerleading was not. for whatever reason, I liked it.

anyway, I don’t think I began to figure bits of life out until I was in about 7th grade. I struggled through middle school with lots of sin in my life, though I didn’t know it was called that then. I felt guilty for not loving church, I felt guilty for saying bad words and for thinking bad thoughts. I felt guilty, but didn’t know why because no one was telling me that the things I did were wrong.

when I got to high school, I began to make the right moves on the outside. I was cheerleading co-captain/captain for four years. I was on yearbook staff. I made good grades and had lots of friends.

inside and quietly, I floated from boy to boy because I needed validation. I needed some type of worth that I felt like a boyfriend could give me. I needed someone to make me feel good enough about myself, someone to tell me that I was worthy of loving. I’m not sure why I felt I needed to be loved by a boy. but I know that I did because I desperately sought it out. I had inappropriate conversations with boys and I, if the chance presented itself, would be down for whatever.

in 10th grade, I met Lindsey. she messaged me because I was cheerleading captain and she wanted to try out for the team and she needed help to get ready for tryouts. I rolled my eyes at her request because I had assumptions about her. I knew that she went to church, wore cute clothes, and had a boyfriend. she lived in a big house with an awesome family and I felt like we were on opposite ends of the spectrum. however, rolling my eyes, I said yes to help her.

in the summer following 10th grade, we practiced day in and day out in her backyard. we did stunts and practiced motions. and throughout that summer, a little switch changed in me. Lindsey became a friend to me like I had never had before. she loved me deeply and genuinely and sweetly. we came from very different worlds, but that never mattered to her or to her family. I am abundantly thankful for that summer because it so radically shaped my forever.

Lindsey began to ask me to church throughout that summer. maybe 5 times, I said no. I was uninterested. church was for people that had it together and I obviously did not. I didn’t understand church and I didn’t understand Jesus and I didn’t understand why it mattered.

yet, Lindsey continued to pursue me. she was the first real example of a pursuit that I ever saw. she chased me without a care for the strain it could/would bring to our relationship. she asked and asked and asked and I declined and declined and declined. it became clear that Lindsey wasn’t giving up and I knew that, if I continued to say no, it would stand between she and I. I didn’t know the love then, but the love she showed me was something sweet to my soul and if I kept saying no, I could lose it.

so I said yes. and I went. and I didn’t really get it and I felt sort of out of place, but the Holy Spirit saw me then because, for whatever reason, I wanted to go back. I felt drawn to that place even though Jesus was so, so far away from me then. but I wanted to be there. so for the next weeks, I went. I had conversations with Lindsey about some the things that I didn’t totally get. I prayed through the hard things even though I didn’t really get it. I tried to read my Bible even though it didn’t mean too much to me because I didn’t get it.

and then one day, it all changed. when the pastor said that we could ask Jesus into our hearts, I did. I felt overwhelmed and reckless and excited, but scared and anxious and all the things. but that day, I did it.

I got baptized on September 18th, 2011. I toured my first college – conveniently a small, Christian school in upstate South Carolina – a month or so later and made up my mind that I would go there.

Over the course of my senior year, I fell in love with Anderson University, I fell in love with my new friends, I fell in love with words, and I fell even more in love with my best friend. I struggled to be a Christian because it meant that all those things I did “right” before counted for nothing. but surely, those were some of my best days. I loved and loved and loved in a way I had never known.

since meeting Jesus that day, my days have come and gone. I’ve learned way more about myself than I would have ever liked to, hah. I’ve battled depression and anxiety, I’ve felt more than worthless on some days. I’ve struggled with sin and I’ve done a lot wrong. I’ll delve more into these parts as we continue on.

grace is probably the word that means the most to me. the kindness of the Lord astounds me. it protected me while I rejected a relationship with me, it goes before me in all the mistakes I make, and it has become my heartbeat in the hard and easy days. my tattoo says “by grace alone” because it really is by grace alone that the Lord would come to me. the thought of that sends me weeping.

so yeah. that’s me. there are tons and tons and tons more that I could say/will say. it is my prayer that this place becomes a soft place for you to land, too. I pray that you would love these words as deeply as I do. that you would find Jesus in your own life through the glory that I am seeking giving Him. I pray that you would find hope and peace and abundant grace, in my life and in yours.

Jesus, get the honor here. let my words be Yours.

already, thanks for loving me well, sweet readers. here’s to new beginnings.

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