RAW, REAL, RADICAL GRACE
When I was 18 years old, I completely compromised my sexual purity in exchange for what felt like acceptance. It was a reality I had never experienced before, but one my heart had hungered after my entire life. I was lonely and longing to feel loved. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t have the strength to stand for what I knew was right. I didn’t have the confidence to let go and believe that someday I would be loved the way I truly deserved.
The further I walked down the road of allowing another person to meet my needs in an unhealthy way, and fill the place in my heart that only God can fill, the more hardened I became. I placed my identity and worth entirely in another person, leaving me feeling powerless. A few months into this lifestyle, I gave up and turned back my back on God — not because I was mad at Him, but because I was too ashamed of myself to look Him in the eyes.
“The further I walked down the road of allowing another to meet my needs in an unhealthy way, filling the place in my heart that only God can fill, the more hardened I became.”
One day, I looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud to God, “If You’re real, then please get me out of this.” That’s exactly what He did. Soon after I prayed that prayer, some leaders at church discovered my relationship, and it became impossible for me to continue having contact with the person who had consumed my life for nearly a year. I moved back to my hometown and was faced with a choice: I could hide this painful, embarrassing part of myself from everyone, or I could be known and guided through it. I knew that if I didn’t let somebody in, it would surely eat me alive. I thought I was the scum of the earth. I hated everything about myself. I was convinced that I had ruined my life and that God would never use me for anything good again. I was ashamed.
“I knew that if I didn’t let somebody in, it would surely eat me alive.”
As I was honest and let a few significant people in on this deeply vulnerable and wounded place in my heart, I was overwhelmed and humbled by their response. They were overflowing with love, acceptance, and compassion for me. Nothing about what I had done scared them or made them question their love for me. In fact, they only loved me more. They walked hand-in-hand with me through my healing, and more often than not, believed in me more than I believed in myself. Their love kept me going. They had eyes to see me when I was blinded by pain. For the first time in my life, I understood the raw, real, radical grace of God. This grace doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done. This grace keeps no record of wrongs. This grace doesn’t not require performance or that you have it all together, but only that you have an open heart to see the unconditional love you are made to dwell in. For eight months, God led me through the books of Romans over and over again, until the truth of His Word permeated my entire being. These truths are now what I stand on. My gifts and callings are irrevocable. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. I am free of shame. I am in the light and I am extravagantly loved.
— Sara, 24, California