So let me tell you all about how loving Jesus has absolutely ruined my life.
I know what you are thinking. You thinking that’s impossible and that maybe I’m being a little melodramatic. We’ll I guess to each their own and if I’m being honest I’m feeling a little melodramatic today. Before you close you computer and move on to something else, let me reassure you this is more than an emotional girl feeling all the feels about life and rambling about it on the Internet. Sit tight, gab you favorite beverage, and get comfortable. I promise to explain my seemingly outrageous, blasphemous, and melodramatic words.
But first, a little back story for those who are new to the game.
Let me just tell you up front that I was not the girl who came into a relationship with Jesus broken and weary. My life leading up to that day was perfectly fine. I had no complaints, nor suffered any major traumas. The second, quite literally actually, that I rose from the baptismal waters at the age of 14 everything changed. At first I thought I had made a terrible mistake. If this was following Jesus I wasn’t sure I wanted it, but later I would come to find that in fact having Jesus ruin my life would be that best thing that ever happened to me.
In 2012 I lead a trip to Thailand to work with a ministry that did outreach on Bangla Road. Bangla is the area for sex tourism in Patong Beach. While we were there for everyone, we were specifically there to interact the women who sold or were forced to sell their bodies each night in order to survive and provide for their families. We spent a few hours a night going into different bars hoping that just one girl would talk with us for a few minutes and maybe if were really lucky she’d meet up for coffee the next day. Without getting into too much detail this trip was the worst thing that ever happened to me. It was brought me to every bit of my limits to the point were I has nothing left to give. I cried all the tears and went home saying “never again!” Never again to leadership and never ever agin to anti-sex trafficking.
A few months later I got this crazy notion in my head that I would run a 5K. Me, the girl who hates running just as much as she hates Walmart (which is A LOT!) was going to run a 5K. Even so I began running. I ran that 5K and that Thanksgiving I would complete my first half marathon and completely fallingin love with running. And thus my love of running began in my avoidance and complete ignoring of anything sex trafficking related began.
Skip ahead to present day. Saturday, October 15, 2016 to be specific. Get ready to have your mind blow because mine certainly was. Side note: If your mind is not blow please kindly lie to me and tell me that it was because this revelation was huge for me.
In July of this year I began volunteering with an Atlanta based anti-sex trafficking ministry. After months of praying I finally landed the dream. Yes you heard that right. I finally landed the dream of working in the area of anti sex trafficking. Also in July of this year I started training for my first marathon. A dream I had since I began my journey in running. I had latched on to the idea of finally running 26.2 in my 26th year of life. Both of these things were driving forces in my life and my entire life revolved around the two. It was exhausting but it also brought me so much life.
This weekend everything changed. This weekend I would began training for a site pastor role within this anti-sex trafficking ministry. I also began to prepare my third attempt at a 20-mile long run I had twice previously not been able to complete due to a hip injury. True to form, because he never fights clean, the enemy began his assault. I should have recognized the symptoms but I didn’t, not until I found myself crying on the running trail with strangers passing by wondering if they should ask me if I’m ok. All week long I was incredibly tired, no amount of sleep was enough. My days began to get busier and busier, anything that could come up came up and my time with the Lord was swept away before my eyes. Not even Netflix could help. I began to feel so incompetent at everything. The pressure began to build and worry set in. Friday night during my training I saw something I had never seen before and I realized how helpless I was in that moment and at mile 10 of my run, on Saturday I finally had to stop, the pain was too great. Tears streaming down my face, standing on the side of the trail wondering if I should walk or Uber back to my car it came flooding in all at once. The fierce beratement of the enemy ensued.
“You will fail. You are failing.”
“You are incompetent.”
“What makes you think you can do this?”
“You do remember how this went the last time right?”
“Do you remember how much it hurt last time? Do want to go through that again?”
I stood there and cried then began to walk back to my car. I’d be lying to you if I told you those tears weren’t selfish and a little bit of a pity party. I was angry. I had spent months working tirelessly training for this marathon that was just weeks away. I was so disappointed and I hated this wasn’t something I could fix with a pep talk and game plan. I was also in a huge amount of physical pain. As I began to walk back to my car I began to text a friend. She immediately reminded me that this race, being a runner was not my identity. My identity was in the Lord. A simple but much needed reminder. So I began to cry even more making the poor strangers on the trail feel oh so uncomfortable. I realized that somehow over the past few months I let my identity become wrapped up in my ability to run. I loved that I was training for marathon. I read a statistic somewhere that only 1% of people complete a full marathon. I have no idea where I read that or if was even accurate, but I wanted to be in that 1%. I wanted it really bad. I loved the feeling of encouragement I would get from people asking me about my training and cheering me on. I had plans to use this raise for a fundraiser for an upcoming trip.
True to his nature as I began to grieve this race (yes, grieve) the Lord began to speak to my heart. He began to peel back the bandages from my eyes allowing me to see how he has been working in me over the years. How he has been preparing my heart to endure all the pain that makes me feel helpless and overwhelmed. Pain that isn’t my own but the pain of others, the pain he feels when he looks at his hurting children. So in my car I began to weep for all the ones trapped in the lies the enemy tells, For every person that finds themselves in darkest corners of the because of the sinful nature of this world.
There in the car it all came full circle. Jesus knew my heart was not ready for the burden I was supposed to carry. Graciously he gave me 4 years to be prepared. He taught me through Holy Spirit, placed people around me to mold me, and interceded at the right hand of that father day and night on my behalf. Then, even though I didn’t think I was ready he placed me in the direct line of people who could see my heart for the burden He gave me and would encourage me in it.
You guys, I have a literal thorn in my side right now. I don’t know how serious this injury is but it is there and it’s not going away soon as much as I have prayed for it to. It reminds me with every step how incredible weak this earthly body of mine is. But I’m learning that his grace is sufficient for me and that his strength is made perfect when I weak. When I am at my end physically, his grace is sufficient. When I see people week after week on Saturdays clinging to things that hurt them and choosing to go back to them, his grace is sufficient. When I see girls being purchased in Thailand and there is nothing I can do about it, his grace is sufficient. When I’m overwhelmed by the darkness around me, his grace is sufficient. When I am at my weakest, He is stronger still.
This weekend was hard in the best and worst ways. I had my marathon dream shattered (for now) and I realized that I cannot carry this burden He has given me on my own, I cannot even begin to try. I am overwhelmed yet so very much excitement for the season the Lord is bringing me into. It is amazing to me that I can feel such sorrow and such joy at the same time. It makes me feel, at times, a little crazy.
When I came to know the Lord I will be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into. When I met Holy Spirit I realized I had no idea who God was and that the God that I had learned about growing up was not the God standing before me. I have since gone through some incredibly painful things. I am reminded that no told me that when I gave my life to the Lord that it be rainbows and butterflies all the time. In fact he promises us trouble and persecution. No one told me that I would not experience pain and that all my problems would be solved. At age 14 though that is what I thought. Every person that I knew who followed Christ and believed in God seemed to have their lives wrapped in a pretty red bow. Still wet from the pool I was baptized in I quickly found out that was not true.
My life has been utterly ruined forever by the savor of the world. He has given me his heart and his eye to see and feel the things he sees and feels and trust me when I say that sometimes I wish this wasn’t so. But having my life ruined by him has ultimately been the greatest thing to have ever happened to me. It has brought to some of the most beautiful places with the most breathtaking views. He has brought me the greatest friends. Loving him has pushed my heart to edge more times that I thought possible. It has allowed me to love more than I ever knew I was capable of. His plans for my life were and continue to be more than I could have ever imagined or dreamed. To have him trust me with such a burden is the greatest honor and so very humbling. To be loved my him is the greatest adventure.
So yes, maybe I’m a little melodramatic, but my life has been ruined. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.