I walked up to Jake and gave him a hug. Immediately he said, “What’s wrong, you seem different?” I replied, “I am.” We got in the car and I didn’t know where to start. Of course I started crying trying to explain what went on in my heart that week. He listened intently. I told him about my conversation with Pam and about my new-found faith. I talked about how nice everyone was to me and the party they threw for me. I told him things needed to change in our relationship because I coudn’t continue on the way we were living. He said that was fine and that he loved me no matter what. I didn’t expect that at all.
We arrived at my house and Pedes had already shared with my mom what had happened that week. I ran up and gave my mom a huge hug. Over that next week my mom was in awe at how different I was. She said her sweet girl was back. My mom commented that she wanted that same joy and peace that Pedes and I had. A week later my mom accepted Christ. God was moving in my family and it was so cool to be part of.
The next week Jake and I went to youth group. I introduced him to everyone including my youth pastor Ryan. Ryan was athletic and into sports too and Jake liked him right away. Ryan said to Jake, “We should get together sometime and shoot some hoops.” Jake took him up on the deal the next day. After playing basketball Jake said he wanted to talk to Ryan about something. He said he wanted to know more about my faith. Ryan shared with him the same message Pam shared with me. That day Jake became a believer too.
We both were on fire and excited about the change in our lives. Senior year started and Jake began his football season. I think he told everyone about Jesus on that team. We practically had the whole team at our youth group by October. I was really enjoying going to church and the Bible became alive to me. I couldn’t stop reading it and asking questions. I was like a sponge soaking up all the truths in the Bible I could. Jake and I would study the Bible together and we were both growing in our faith. Everyone was always commenting on how different we were from the year before (and probably less dramatic too!).
In November, one of the youth group leaders decided we would go to each of the schools in our community and pray for the students on that campus. I didn’t think anything of it at the time until we pulled up to the Catholic school. My stomach immediately tied in knots. I hadn’t been there since the day I left. Even though no one was in the building I still freaked out. I think I had a mini panic attack –I had sweaty palms, my breathing was irregular and the ground started moving. My youth leader encouraged me to talk to God about how I felt. I went up to the door of the school and a flood of memories came back and I started weeping and praying. I didn’t want to pray for that school or anyone who went there. My heart still held bitterness for so many of them. I had created a prison in my heart where many of those people were held captive. I wanted to keep them locked in and shut off from my life forever.
In that moment God spoke to my heart (not in an audible way but just an impression on my heart) that said “If it weren’t for what you went through here you would have never found me. I will use the pain you went through to help others” I decided that day that if God could forgive me I could certainly try and forgive the people who had hurt me. I started the process of forgiving those from my past. As I let them out of the jail in my heart I realized that a little piece of my heart was healed also. I still had a long way to go but I knew that God would use my story to one day encourage others. Suddenly, going through what I went through became worth it to me. It was part of who I was. It was part of the story that God wrote for me.
On the homefront things seemed to have gotten better between my parents. We were attending church as a family and I was hopeful that they would make it.
In December, Jake and I broke up. I was the one who ended it and he was pretty devastated. I loved him dearly I just felt like I needed to be challenged more. I felt like we were getting into a rut and it became increasingly difficult to realign our physical relationship with God’s standards. I didn’t want anything holding me back from pursuing God and His will for my life. Even though we broke up we still hung out all the time. It was just so comfortable to be around him. I think it was hard for him because he still had intense feelings for for me. We ended up dating on and off (while I dated other guys and broke his heart) the rest of the school year.
He got a scholarship to play football at a school in Iowa. He was planning on sticking around because I was going to go to the local junior college. In the end I think it was just so hard for him to be around me and not be my boyfriend that he needed a clean break. Even though my feelings for him had waned I still was in tears when he drove off to go to college. He had been such a huge part of my life for two years. There was security in knowing he would always be there, which was not healthy for either of us.
I started my freshmen year of college at a local junior college. I also helped out at the youth group, worked, and hung out with Lyle. Lyle was a senior in high school and went to the youth group as well. We were huge into rollerblading and going to concerts. I always knew Lyle felt more for me than just a friend but I made it clear I wasn’t interested in dating him. I knew the truth though…I wanted him to feel the way he felt about me with no strings attached. I dated quite a bit that semester. In my heart I justified my actions by saying “I told him I wasn’t interested in dating him.” But my actions spoke different to him.
I had created an idol in my life. An idol is pretty much anything you have in your life that you depend on and find your security in. It wasn’t Lyle that was the idol; it was the idea of a relationship in my life. Since seventh grade I always had “someone” in my life whether we were officially “together,” or just someone who felt strongly for me. I am sure much of it had to do with the rumor and always trying to “live it down” and the other part had to do with my relationship with my dad. Either way God wanted to teach me that a relationship with Him was the only way I would feel true satisfaction. No amount of love, and acceptance from this earth is what my heart was craving.
In October, Lyle, Chris, Andy, Jimmy, Scott and I decided to take a road trip to go visit Chad at Liberty University. I really wasn’t considering attending that college I just thought it would be a fun road trip and nice to see Chad. After a 14 hour drive we arrived in Lynchburg, Virginia. Chad had set me up to stay in the girl dorms with a girl named Christy. I was a little nervous about staying with someone I didn’t know. For obvious reasons, I didn’t really allow myself to have close girl relationships and I always had this belief that all girls would eventually betray me.
I went to the bathroom and on the stall someone had hung a poem that rocked my world…
To have a deep soul relationship with another.
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
BUT, God to the Christian says ” NO”
Not until you’re satisfied and fulfilled
and content with living loved by Me alone and
giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.
To have an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.
I love you My Child and until you discover that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
You will not be capable of the perfect human relationship I have planned for you.
You will NEVER be united with another until you are united with me –
exclusive of anyone, or anything else.
I want you to stop planning, stop wishing and just allow Me to give you
the most thrilling plan existing, one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best.
Please allow me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching me, expecting me, expecting the greatest things.
Be content in the satisfaction of knowing I AM.
Please don’t be anxious and worry.
Don’t look around at the things other have that I’ve given them.
Just keep looking only to me, or you’ll miss what I have to show you.
And then when you’re ready I’ll surprise you –
With a love far more wonderful then you would ever dream.
You see, until you are ready and until the one I have for you is ready…
I am working at this very minute minute to see that both of you are ready at the same time.
And until you are both satisfied with Me and the life I’ve prepared for both of you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with me-
And this is PERFECT LOVE. And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love.
and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union
of beauty and perfection and love I offer you with myself.
Know that I love you.
For I am the God almighty Believe and be satisfied.
I had no idea the impact that poem would make on my life. It was then that I decided I wanted to attend school there. I wanted to go to a school where the pressure to do the right thing was more prevalent than the pressure to do the wrong thing.
So in January I arrived on Liberty University’s campus as a student. Since I was a new student I had to arrive early. I get to my dorm room and everything is in nice order –for two to a room. Clearly, my two roommates had NO IDEA they were going to get another roommate. In order to make room for myself I had to rearrange the room to accommodate three people – without their presence or their knowledge. I was freaking out. Judging by the pictures in the room the two of them had known each other for quite some time. Looking at their clothes they dressed really nice and they were a size 4. Clearly we would not be sharing clothes. I was petrified for them to walk in the room and see all their stuff rearranged and for them to meet me. I was pretty much 0 for 0 in the “friendships with women” category. What would they think of me? Would they be mad that I rearranged their room? No matter how I played the scenario out in my head it didn’t look good. At this point I was ready to turn around and go back home.
I figured the safest course of action was to let them see the room without me in it first. That way they could get over the shock of having another roommate. Then I would enter the room and hope my courage prevailed.
I slid my key into the lock, took a deep breath, opened the door and saw Stacey and Sarah…