God is the way
by Amanda Smith
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I experienced the grace of God and the unfailing love of Jesus Christ through my most broken of times. My wish is that my story may find sometime in a similar "hopeless" situation and that they will realize that God really is the way. After all, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:5---God will always come through.
There I was. Eighteen years old and about to start my sophomore year of college. I was feeling lost and just recovering from hitting rock bottom. I had just moved into my first apartment, and my first night alone, I sat down and started writing. Whatever came to mind. Out of nowhere, these words came to me:
God is love.
God is opportunity.
God is the way.
The answer to all prayers.
God is perfection.
Trust in him and all will work out.
I had never really gone to church before, or had a relationship or understanding of Godís grace. But at that moment, it all seemed to make sense. All of the confusion of where to go from here was suddenly clear to me. I knew what I had to do.
Let me go back a little and explain my circumstances at the time. I had just been dumped by my boyfriend. He had left for South Korea for military purposes, and the news was delivered via an instant ,message over AOL at three in the morning. I was devastated, but it was a long time coming. We had talked about taking a break before, but I never thought I would actually see the day. I was in love. My ďperfectĒ life was shattered.
I was born to a set of loving parents who are still married to this day. I was their first born child and I guess you could say I had a happy childhood. We always did well financially and I was never abused. But just because those things are in place, doesnít always guarantee that the recipe will turn out to be perfect. I was always a great student, straight Aís through high school, but I never really felt like my parents were proud. They just expected it from me. Getting a B was a horrible and shameful thing in my house.
I had friends throughout grade school, but I always felt a little left out. I had a group of friends that every day would choose a different person in the group to ignore. I think that led to later problems of dependency and fear of being left. I had a best friend from elementary school up until the day we graduated high school. We were known to everyone as ďthe twinsĒ because we were always seen together. We did everything together, but I was always following in her shadow. I never really had a chance to shine on my own, and I always felt feelings of inferiority around her and our friends. I felt like our friends were only friends with me because she was there, that nobody truly liked just me.
I was what you call a ďlate bloomer.Ē Guys didnít recognize me like they did the other girls. I wasnít ugly, I donít know how to explain it. I didnít have my first kiss until I was 16. Before that, I was constantly looking and craving any attention from guys. I wanted to be grown up and like all of the other girls. I was sick of feeling left out. My first kiss was in the back room of a retail store with a guy that was just using me. Kids at school found out what happened because he told them, and I was judged by them and humiliated.
My junior year of high school, something tragic happened. My grandma who had been battling ovarian cancer for five years died. I was devastated, but I never really dealt with the hurt and pain. I just turned to other sources for comfort, such as friends and boyfriends. When those sources would let me down, I would feel betrayed and jealous and didnít know how to deal with my problems. I started cutting myself and continued that behavior well into my freshman year of college. I thought it was my way of showing people that they hurt me. But it obviously didnít get the desired response.
I loved the idea of being in love. That was what I wanted, and I would do anything to get there. That was the ultimate success in my eyes. When I was about 17, I met my best friendís cousin while he was visiting from Wisconsin. He showed me some attention, and we started talking on the phone every night. We really hit it off, I thought, and he became my first serious boyfriend. My first serious relationship was a long distance one. Talk about straining. I lost my virginity to him, and didnít think twice about it. I had this engrained belief that I believed with everything in me, that you canít have a serious relationship or really be in love without having sex. We were together for about a year, until we both graduated high school and were moving on to college. I decided that I didnít want to go into college with a long distance boyfriend, that I just wanted to have fun. So we ended things and went our separate ways.
I went into college feeling excited to start a new chapter in my life and to be single. But the truth is that I didnít really know how to be single. I didnít know how to be happy without a guy in my life. My first day of English class, I was partners with a guy named John and we had to introduce each other to the class. We hung out a couple of times outside of class and started dating. Early on, there were signs that he was not the kind of guy I should be with. He was always on some kind of drug and I could never figure it out. He lied to me and made me feel like I was the one with the problem. I was staying in his dorm room one night when one of his friends came over to buy drugs from him. while I was there. I was speechless. I told him that I didnít like that kind of stuff and that I wanted him to stop. He said he would, but I should have known better. People just donít change because you want them to.
Anyway, I went ignorantly along for 6 months with this guy. I endured nights of asking him why he smelled like weed, or why he was sending weird text messages that I couldnít read, or even why he had hickeys on his neck. And believe you me, he had an excuse for everything. One day my roommates finally decided that they had to intervene. They had known about Johnís behavior the whole time but decided to keep it from me for some reason. They sat me down and told me that he had been lying to me this whole time and that he had never stopped smoking weed. We fought about it, and he promised me he would stop. And the very next night, he was high again. I lost it, I cut myself and showed it to him, to maybe make him understand the pain he caused me. We stayed together for at least another month after that until he got busted for smoking weed in the dorms and was kicked out for a month. He had nowhere to go, and I idiotically offered to let him stay at my parentsí house and we could drive to school everyday. Note that I lived forty five minutes away. I would do anything to keep him and make him happy. He ended up deciding that he was going to move to Arizona, and he left me standing alone. We broke up, and he went on to tell me that he cheated on me while we were together and that I never meant anything to him.
No more than a week or two after John and I broke up, did I start dating my next victim. This is the guy that dumped me at the beginning of this story. I fell hard for this one. I spent every waking minute of my life at his apartment. We did everything together, and I left my life behind. I would get terribly jealous when he would have anything going on outside of the relationship. He took me home to meet his family, and I thought that this was the real deal. I was wrong. I used this relationship to define me and I held it as an idol in my life. At this point in my life, I had been taking antidepressants to ďfixĒ me. I didnít know why I wasnít happy all the time, and I saw this as a solution. These drugs ruined my life. I began taking more than prescribed when I saw that they werenít working immediately and the chemicals in my brain got really messed up. I was broken beyond repair, so I thought.
God saw that I held something to be more important than I held him, and he had to take it away from me to get my attention. He left me shattered and broken. And in those days, weeks and months, I have never seen greater beauty, mercy or grace. God picked me up from my shattered life and gave me instructions to follow him and leave my old life behind.
It wasnít an easy journey. I stubbornly fought with God to keep holding onto my old life. I didnít want to give him all of me, and I didnít want to give up things that I liked to do. I saw God as another person telling me what I had to do, and I just wanted to be free. But what I didnít realize was that in order to be free, I must give my life over to God. He is the only way to life. I need God, and when I deny that need, I will always be disappointed. When I chase things that are not in Godís favor and that he will not bless, I will always turn up short.
God saw that I had my eyes set on relationships to define me and that I held them above all else. He took away that distraction from me and was jumping up and down and yelling for me to come follow him. Thankfully, I heard him and listened. I believe that until you give in entirely, into something bigger than yourself, that you will be dissatisfied. God can make something beautiful out of your life, but you have to give him all of you. Your heart, soul, mind and strength. Everything. You cannot be divided between the worldís selfish ways and God. You must choose him, and choose him completely. You cannot divide your attention, or else you will be unstable in everything you do.
Proverbs 3:5 tells us to ďTrust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.Ē This is what we must do. Praise God during all times of your life. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the unimaginable. You may not always understand the ways of God, but He makes things come together and work for the better for all that believe in him. He will find a purpose for every situation. Trust that he is your God, and he has infinite wisdom that we cannot even begin to fathom. He is an amazing God with the power to make the darkest skies bright again. He has the power to save our souls, if we allow him to.
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Well written, thanks for sharing. Proverbs 3:5 is one of my favorite verses as well. To know that even though we may not understand what God is doing in our life if we trust in him and acknowledge him he will direct our steps. His word is true. God Bless.