I was only 12 years old when I began giving myself away, piece by piece. First it was pornography and cybersex; then it slowly moved toward physical sexual encounters. I continued this behavior for a whole decade of my life, until I was about 22.
For most of my youth, I never felt my dad loved me. He was an on-again-off-again alcoholic, and I know it was that missing piece in my life that made me long for genuine love and acceptance. And as I grew up, I constantly pursued approval and attention from boys.
I dealt with rejection, depression, anxiety and a giant void in my heart I didn’t know how to fill. I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar.
Filling the Void
In college, my love for theater and acting became my means of escaping my desire to be truly accepted. I tried to find fulfillment in the fantasy relationships I had with others on stage and attempted to make real off stage. But my pride caused me to fall in love with myself, trying to satisfy the emptiness that refused to be filled.
I knew John 3:16 by heart, but I didn’t fully understand it. I knew Jesus died so that I may be forgiven and restored back to the Father, but I just couldn’t shake the religious upbringing that taught me only about a vengeful, angry God who would smite me down if I were not perfect.
I still felt like I had to work for forgiveness and acceptance. And love. That performance-driven mentality affected all areas of my life. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I never felt good enough.
I reached a point where I stopped trying and just lived. I made plans to run away to Los Angeles. I would be an actress and prove to the world my worth, talent, beauty and charm. But, one Sunday morning, only a couple months after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish and sinful existence.
I hadn’t been to church in years, but one morning I went with my mom and sister. During the worship service, I began to experience this deep conviction that I was living a reckless and selfish life and that I had been running away from God. It was my prodigal son moment…I came to my senses and the end of myself (Luke 15). Immediately, I knew I needed to repent and start running toward Him, back into the Father’s arms. In that moment, I realized where I truly belonged. Right there, with hands lifted in worship, and tears streaming down my face, I repented of my pride and rebellion; I told God that I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore, and that I wanted to surrender to His plan.
Faith at a Crossroad
As I began to loosen my grip on my plans for my life one finger at a time, God began showing me that His plans were so much better than my own. I finally laid down my prideful desires to become an actress in Los Angeles and committed to truly follow Jesus, wherever that led, for the first time in my life.
But only a few short months after this change began in my heart, I received some traumatic news- someone murdered my father outside of a strip club. His lifestyle landed him in the wrong crowd, and it tragically cost him his life.
That’s when my faith reached a crossroad.
I could either believe Jesus was my solid rock, my firm foundation, or allow my father’s murder to completely shake me and destroy me. God gave me the strength to believe. At my father’s funeral, I read one of his favorite poems, “Footprints in the Sand,” and I told my family to trust in Jesus; He would be the One to carry us through this tragedy.
Since my father’s passing, I have not stopped running toward God. I find refuge in His presence, and I ask daily for help to walk in His will. I try my best to make it a priority to study His Word, and spend time in worship and prayer, but only by His grace am I able to do that.
God has completely healed me, delivered me, transformed me and overwhelmed me with His great love. He is the Father I always wanted — the One who will never leave me or reject me.
I don’t work for forgiveness anymore; now I fully receive His grace and forgiveness. I know I have been forgiven of so much, and I long to be so filled with God’s love that it pours out of me to everyone I meet. I want others to know they can never outrun His love. I know I sure tried that, and I learned that no one can ever be too far gone for God to fulfill His purpose in me.
I speak from experience when I say nothing in this world will ever be able to satisfy like God’s love does. Now I get it: Nothing can ever separate us from Him. Nothing. We don’t have to work for His love or prove ourselves worthy of it. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
I once struggled to find my identity in Christ, and I know I’m not the only one. But let me tell you, the greatest position you will ever stand in is being a child of God.
I once struggled to find my identity in Christ, and I know I’m not the only one. But let me tell you, the greatest position you will ever stand in is being a child of God.Tweet
“I Was That Girl” was first featured in Shattered Magazine (Fall 2015 issue, print edition).