Peeling off the layers 

Easter 2013 I accepted Jesus into my life and everything became amazing, I never had any more problems, and I lived happily ever after. This is what I thought would happen when I made the decision to give my heart to Jesus. I was very naive to the power of God. It was a whole new world of bible reading, praying, church, all things I had never done. I had a great group of women in the small group I attended through my church, ‘my church’ words that I never expected to come out of my mouth. They helped explain things to me, supported me, prayed for me and so much more. I felt so loved by them but I thought it was too good to be true, history had proven that those I loved usually left. This seemed different though. Now I know that when you have God in your life you are given the ability to love like him, to show love for people that as humans we aren’t capable of. I gave all these women every reason not to love me. I would hide away, ignore them at times, lie to them, not put in any effort in building a friendship, but they kept loving me. I was shocked, but because of this love my hard heart began to soften just enough to let them in. I would take small steps forward in opening up to God and then fear would pull me back. I decided to give it my all, what did I have to lose?

 I was becoming a new person, the things I was praying for were becoming reality. I felt lighter, I could breathe small breathes of life for what seemed like the first time. I had lived in such darkness, sadness was all I really knew, so when I started experiencing more emotions it was confusing and terrifying. All those coping mechanisms and addictions I had were falling away with almost no effort on my part. I stopped getting high and numbing myself everyday and began to feel. Feelings I had either never experienced before or they had been dulled with pain and medication. One of the strangest things that I ever felt, happened to me while I was at work. I was going through my daily routine and I was unusually happy. It was like I would burst from the amount of happiness I was feeling. I figured something was very wrong and began to panic. I called my small group leader, as she told me to do incase I ever needed to talk or if I had an emergency. Well this was an emergency! As she answered, with concern in her voice, she asked what was wrong. I told her something wasn’t right, I explained how I was ‘too happy!’ I then heard a little giggle on the other end of the phone and she explained that I was experiencing joy. Joy? I had never experienced this before and I asked her “what do I do with it?” Her words, “Enjoy it, and get used to it.” It took me time to learn how to embrace the good feelings and to identify them. 

I was doing well, the best I had ever been. Things began changing very quickly and it was so incredibly exciting and scary. You see when you let God into your heart he changes you. It’s as if you are an onion, and he is peeling away the layers. Not to punish you, but to make you new and heal you on the inside by getting to your core. My layers of depression, addiction, fear, unforgiveness, anxiety, and all the other hard layers I built up over the years were coming off. It was so liberating and freeing. What I didn’t realize, is that under those layers was a rawness and deep hurts and memories I had suppressed as a child. These things were now on the surface. Horrible memories that I had never dealt with. With encouragement, I tried to embrace them and find freedom. It was all too much for me I felt, and I hid away and started finding my layers I had taken off. I got back into smoking pot everyday and hid away from God and those ladies, all of whom did nothing but show me love. My comfort zone was sadness and I ran back into it as if I was running for my life. 

Time went by and I kept in touch with some of my new friends. Enough was enough though, I was becoming too attached. I needed them to leave me alone so I could be in my comfort zone in ‘peace’ before they figured out I was unlovable and left. I went to church and asked to talk with the woman who leads my small group. I told her I had a confession, I was secretly getting high everyday. I then told the rest of my friends from my group and felt comforted that at least I was controlling when they would leave me. There it was, the ugly truth. You know what they did? They continued to love me! What!? I mean come on! Didn’t you just hear me? I am secretly getting high instead of spending time with God or any of you. No anger or judgement at all, they just offered love, support, concern, and prayers. God’s love has no limit. God loved me even though I rejected him, for one second his love did not change for me. Does that mean that he was pleased or that it was ok what I was doing? No, but his love is unfailing and he sent me people who would extend me his grace, mercy and love. With this, I was able to break free from addictions again and was ready to face those raw layers with determination and the knowledge of how much God loves me. I was in love with him! I was baptized later that year and started ripping those layers off one after another. He blessed me with victories and freedoms from things I never dreamt were possible. My mind and heart were being restored. I had even strengthened my back injury up enough to be working on my own again. Things were going so well I started having this other wonderful feeling I had heard about, hope. I started to dream of the future and wanted to live for the first time ever. I began to share with people how God saved my life and changed me, and more importantly, how he offers this to everyone who wants it. My relationship with him was strong and loving. However, God asks us to build a foundation in him, so that no circumstance can pull us apart or knock us down. In the next part of my story I’ll explain how my foundation was built through epic failures and triumphs. 

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Tall Jen 

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