My Story

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  

 John 10:10 (NIV)

A life to the full . . . Do you ever struggle with understanding what a life lived to the full looks like? Living to the full is defined as a life lived fully, thoroughly, completely, to the utmost, to the limit, to the maximum, for all one’s worth. It’s slowing down and soaking in each moment. It’s living with purpose and intention. It’s making the choice to fully embrace each day that God gives us.

But, some days that’s hard to do, isn’t it? Some days, the difficulty of our circumstances leave us weary. Some days, it feels as though it is life itself that is holding us back from living to the full. 

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been in a place where you knew there was so much more to life than how you were currently living it? Have you ever felt as though something was holding you back and keeping you from living the life God had for you? I have. Here’s my story. 

I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression over fifteen years ago. At the time, my husband and I had just been married a little under two years. We had a cute two bedroom apartment off of a dead end street outside of the city. We had a small backyard perfect for a garden, an amazing pizza shop just down the street, and upstairs neighbors that reminded us of how thin the walls were. (Their three year old would throw himself face down in the floor when he had a tantrum.) The front window needed covered with plastic each winter to keep out the cold, and I refused to lay on the floor because we had these creepy centipede type bugs everywhere. It was nearly impossible to see one heading your way on the carpet until it was upon you. Most days, I lived on our couch. But, this place was home and in my mind, absolutely perfect! My husband was in school at the time, and I was teaching first grade for a wonderful district in the suburbs. Life was really good. But, at the same time it wasn’t. 

I had started my job part way into the school year when two classrooms were divided into three. With only a few short days to prepare for my students, I felt completely overwhelmed. As the year progressed, I felt as though I was always playing catch up and as a result began to doubt my abilities as a teacher. By the spring, I felt numb to what was happening around me. I found it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand and had many days when all I really wanted to do was curl up under my covers and have a good cry. If you had asked me what was wrong, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you because I didn’t know. I just knew that I didn’t feel like myself. 

With the encouragement of a friend, I went to see my doctor and was quickly diagnosed. She felt that a chemical imbalance in my brain was behind what I was feeling and prescribed medication for me.  It helped for a time. But, as life continued to move forward, I found I still had times where my anxiety would run high, times when I didn’t want to leave the house, and times when I just didn’t feel like myself. And, then, something happened that would forever change me.

It happened eight years ago. I found myself at a MOPS Leadership Winter Retreat being asked to describe through writing or pictures, how I honestly saw myself. As I sat down to begin the assignment, tears filled my eyes. Words like unworthy, not enough, weak, ashamed, and unseen poured from my heart. When my turn came to share with the other women, I couldn’t even get the words out. I simply broke down and wept. Those women gathered around me and began to pray over me. I can’t tell you what they said, because in those next few moments, I felt God speaking clearly into my heart. He said, “This isn’t who I created you to be. You are so much more than this.” His words hurt because deep in my heart, I knew them to be true. 

I left retreat that weekend determined to discover who I really was. What I wasn’t prepared for was how quickly God would reveal a hard truth to me. That truth?  When it came down to it, I didn’t believe Him. I didn’t believe Him, and I didn’t trust Him. 

My belief and trust issues started when I was a teen. I grew up in a wonderful Christian home, and knew without a doubt that I was loved. I accepted Christ at the age of eight and for the most part, life was going really smoothly; no complaints.  Then at the age of 14, I met a young man. Two years older than me, he was the first boy to ever tell me that he loved me. Now, I had been in “love” before. I lost count of how many times I got married and divorced in the fifth grade alone, but this was the first young man to tell me, as a young woman, that I was loved. And, I loved how hearing those words made me feel. 

As the relationship progressed over the next two years, I allowed this young man to capture my heart, and willingly gave him every part of me.  It was at this point in time, that I began to clearly hear whispers being spoken into my heart. “You’re not strong enough to say no. He’ll leave you if you don’t. No one else will love you, not now.” My relationship with this young man soon ended, and I wish I could tell you that those whispers being spoken into my heart stopped as well. But, they didn’t. The whispers continued and led me to other young men as I desperately sought to feel like I was beautiful, that I was loved, and that I was treasured above all others. Yet, each time, one of them left me, I was left feeling wounded, lonely, insecure, and wondering what was wrong with me.

Those whispers followed me into my marriage. Though I felt securely loved by my new husband, I felt I failed him as a wife in so many ways. The whispers followed me into my workplace. I constantly compared myself to veteran teachers and kept track of all of the ways I failed my students. The whispers followed me as my husband and I struggled to start a family. As I faced the reality of losing our second baby in the span of one year, I blamed myself. There must have been something I did wrong. What kind of mother can’t even safely carry her own baby?

The whispers spoke into my heart daily, and do you know what happened over time? I began to believe that they were true.  When you listen to something long enough, you begin to believe it. You begin to believe it, and it becomes your truth. 

God brought me to my knees on that snowy night, eight years ago and broke through those lies that Satan had been speaking into my heart for so long.  Lies that I allowed to define me. Lies that I allowed to hold me captive. Lies that kept me from living the life God had for me. 

What about you? Is there something that is holding you captive? Is there something that is holding you back from living the life God has for you?

Captivity can be defined as the condition of being imprisoned or confined. What are some things that can hold us captive in this world? The desire to feel love and accepted is a big one. Money, material possessions, and even people can make us feel as though we are being held captive. All of these things can too easily keep us from the life God has for us. 

So, how do we break free from these things that hold us captive? It starts by taking these things that we have come to believe about ourselves and our circumstances, and standing them up against God’s Word. God’s Word is the only truth that can stand firm in this world. Every part of our life, we have to look at through the lens of His Word. 

What does God’s Word tell us? First, you are loved!

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

1 John 4:9-10 

When Christ died upon that cross over 2000 years ago, your face was on His mind. He died for you because He loves you and wants to spend eternity with you. And this love He showed us through the cross is not a love that we deserve.  Far from it. He died knowing that we would disappoint Him over and over again. The love God has for you is deep and unchanging. Do you believe that you are loved?

Second, you are worthy. Do you believe that? Do you believe that you are worthy? Do you believe that you are valued, that you are important? Do you believe that despite how badly you feel you have messed up your life that God can and wants to use you for His good purposes? For me, this was the hardest one to accept. I could believe that I was loved, but, I struggled to believe that God could use me for anything worthwhile. And that’s when He led me to the story of Leah. 

We find the story of Leah in Genesis 29. Jacob, the son of Isaac, has been sent out by his father to find a wife and was told specifically to traveled to the home of his uncle, Laban. Now, Laben had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Rachel was the youngest and is noted as having a lovely figure and a beautiful face.  One look at Rachel, and Jacob is in love.  Jacob offers to work for Laben for seven years to win Rachel’s hand in marriage. Laben agrees. At the end of the seven years, they hold a great feast, and at the end of the night, Laben slips the bride into the bridal chamber. When Jacob wakes the next morning, he is shocked to find that it is not Rachel in his bed. It is Leah. 

Leah. She was the oldest daughter. The only other information the Scriptures give us about her is that she had weak eyes. Some translations say dull while others say delicate. Though I can’t explain exactly what this means, we can assume that Leah probably wasn’t one of the most beautiful women Jacob had ever laid eyes, and she was definitely not the one he fell in love with. 

Furious, Jacob confronts Laben only to be told that it is not custom to give the younger daughter away in marriage first. Jacob must finish out Leah’s bridal week. Then, in exchange for another seven years of work, he will get Rachel as his wife. Jacob agrees. Now, pause with me for a moment here. How would you have felt if you were Leah in this situation? The only way your father can marry you off is to slip you into your sister’s bridal chamber. How would that make you feel?

The story goes on to tell us that Rachel did indeed become Jacob’s wife and that Jacob loved her more than Leah. God saw that Leah was not loved and blessed she and Jacob with four sons while Rachel remained barren. Genesis goes on to tell us that Jacob went on to have more children with both Leah and Rachel, but I want to look at something I found very interesting here. Leah hoped by giving Jacob a son, she would earn his love and affection. Yet, after the birth of her first three sons, Jacob stilled loved only Rachel.  

After the birth of her fourth son, Leah does not again hope for the love of her husband. Instead, she says, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She names her son Judah. It is from Judah’s line that King David is born, and it is from King David’s line that Jesus is born. 

In the eyes of her father, Jacob, and even herself, Leah was not worth much. But in the eyes of our Father, she was far more precious than she realized. God knew from the beginning of time that through Leah, dull eyes and all, His Son would be born, the Savior of the world. If God could do that, imagine what He might want to do through you? Do you believe that God values your life? Do you believe that He can use you as a light in this dark world?

Believing I was loved and worthy enough to be used by God was just the first step for me. The next step is the one that I am in right now. It’s trusting God. It’s trusting Him enough to take those steps towards the life He has for me. It’s letting go of my what I once was or thought I was and seeing myself through His eyes. Isaiah 43 reminds us to,

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on [your] past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in [your] wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV).  

It’s surrendering control of my life and trusting that His plan is good for me.  Scripture says,

“The LORD will surely comfort {you} and will look with compassion on all [your] ruins; he will make [your] deserts like Eden, [your] wastelands like the garden of the LORD.”

Isaiah 51:3 (NIV). 

And it’s trusting that He will always be there and is bigger than any mountain I may face. God says,

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior.” 

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT).

I don’t know what is holding you back from living the life God has for you. But, I can tell you this. Whatever it is, it’s not worth it. I am not the same woman I was eight years ago, and I am so thankful for that. Author, Renee Swope says, “We can trust God’s plans as we realize that His story is being written in ours. His power is perfected in the broken places we consider to be our greatest weaknesses—our most vulnerable emotions we don’t want anyone to know about. In those hiding places, God calls us out of captivity. When we’re willing to let Him, He brings hope for our future despite the pain of our past.” – Renee Swope

God brings hope, and hope it what our world needs. Give your life over to Him. You won’t regret it. 

One thought on “My Story

  1. Meghan, this is such a powerful and moving essay. You have a true gift and we are so blessed that you are using it in such a public forum.

    Like

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