Sunday, March 15, 2015

That Girl

I love the month of March. I love spring. I love watching winter come to an end. Seeing birds return. Feeling warmth in the air. I love discovering grass again. Going for walks without having to put on triple layers. Sensing nature waking up. Feels like such a hopeful time of year. I also love March because it represents a birthday of sorts for me. Eleven years ago this month I gave my life to Christ. And a few years after that, also in March, I was baptized. Before I can tell you about my new life, I need to tell you first how I became That Girl.

In the fall after my senior year of high school I received a phone call that would change my life forever. It was a Wednesday morning, my third day of college classes. After my morning class I stopped in the mail room where I got a care package from my boyfriend. Getting any mail in college is exciting. Getting a big box is super exciting! So it was with excitement that I opened it to find a bunch of my favorite snacks, some sentimental items, and a note letting me know I was loved by him. I headed to the computer lab and began to type him a thank you email when my phone rang. That call set off confusion and panic to where I would eventually learn that my boyfriend had shot and killed himself that morning. In just one moment I went from feeling on top of the world, to watching my life come crashing down around me. And instantly before I even knew it, I had become That Girl.

I quit school and went home. Home. Where I was That Girl. That Girl moving through time, but feeling like I wasn't really even there. That Girl that some thought should have known something was wrong. That Girl that some thought was crying too hard, exaggerating my position in or connection to the tragedy. That Girl that still others had an overwhelming sense of pity for. That Girl that people found easier to ignore for fear of not knowing what to say, but undoubtedly would ask those around me, "How is she?" That Girl that lost a sense of the future. That felt alone everywhere. That belonged nowhere. Including home. So in January I went back to school. To my surprise, I was still That Girl.

At school I was That Girl that was new...again. That Girl that missed fall training for track and field. That Girl that many knew something had happened to. That girl that was fragile. That some professors, my coach, my advisor, etc. knew to be sensitive towards. That Girl that still felt alone. Still didn't belong anywhere. Still was moving through time in a state of numbness. That Girl that fell into all kinds of destructive behaviors because the future didn't really matter anymore. That Girl that was afraid to take her life, but no longer desired to live. That Girl that felt guilty for smiling, pathetic for not being able to get myself out of the pit I was drowning in, hopeless that much could ever really change for me. That Girl that became a master at going through the motions, learning how to put all kinds of barriers up so that no one could really get close to me again. And then in a moment that once again would change my life forever, something happened.

It was March, just a year and a half after that Wednesday morning that ended in tragedy. I went with one of my roommates to Upper Room, which was a student led worship service. I was unsuspecting. Once again, I was going through the motions. Singing songs to a God I resented. One of the girls in the student band stopped worship to say that God was putting it on her heart that somebody there needed healing. That they didn't understand how God was going to be able to bring that healing. But that God was telling that person just to trust Him. There isn't really a way for me to describe to you how I knew that I was the one she was talking to. I will just say that when you have a true encounter with God, you know. You know that you know. There is no second guessing or wondering. You just know. And I knew. And I had a vision of light and a hand outstretched toward me. That hand was beckoning me to let go. Let go of everything I was holding onto. My broken heart. My hopelessness. My relationship with my boyfriend. My misunderstanding of who God is. My future. My identity. My life. I knew in that moment I had to choose to let go so that I could walk forward. I had to die to myself so that I could begin to really live. And I did. Some people around me layed hands on me and prayed. I surrendered. And the peace that I heard a lot about from churchy people, became a reality in my life that day. I was different immediately. I was new. No longer That Girl. I was a daughter of the King. I was far from alone. I belonged. I had a destiny. A future. A hope.

The next time I was home on a weekend, I stopped by my boyfriend's grave for the last time. I had to say goodbye. I loved him. Thought my future was going to include him in it. Was broken when I learned that it wouldn't. But I told him my God is bigger and that in order for me to move on, I had to say goodbye.

Sometimes I forget who I am. Even all these years later. Maybe it is brought on by the anniversary of his death. Or a memory is triggered. Or sometimes just simply being in my hometown. Lies start to creep in. I can feel myself falling back into an old identity...That Girl. But then I remember how in John 8:36 I am promised that, "He whom the Son sets free is free indeed." And I remember who I am and Whose I am. I remember that in Romans 8:38 I am promised that "...nothing can separate us from His love. Death Can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away." 

I don't know what your life has brought you. What has made you That Girl or That guy. But I know who you are. Even if you don't know yet. I am praying for you right now. That you too would surrender that old identity that you were never created to put on. And that you would claim your new identity, your position as a daughter/son of the Most High God. "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17    


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