My Imperfections but God’s Grace
By: Kristen Oliver
I have had a very busy week which has led to inconsistent eating habits. This inevitably means I get emotional, because my body is not getting the nutrients it needs and it’s screaming at me…..”Feed me protein, veggies and complex carbs!!” Basically I’ve been living off of cereal, PB&J and kid friendly dinners, my body is rebelling against me!! When I have these busy weeks not only does my eating go down the tank, there is no exercise or devotions happening and I eat A LOT of chocolate!! This leads to a very stressed and anxious person that my darling husband has to deal with.
Nevertheless, this morning I decided to ignore my current feelings; “Come on Kristen, sleep in, stay home, overeat, and binge on Netflix, it’s raining after all.” But I had to remind myself of what I know is true: “I feel better when I exercise and eat healthy. I feel like junk when I eat junk.” Thank goodness I ignored my feelings, because they lie you know. Instead I woke up early, went to the gym, took the boys for breakfast and did my devotions. Now after all three of these things I feel like a new person. I’m motivated, inspired and happy!! I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my feelings because they are unreliable!! Have you ever felt like that?
So, during my devotions God spoke so clearly to me through Paul, that I felt the need to share it with you. In the book, 1 Timothy, Paul is writing a letter to his younger protégé Timothy (hence the title of the book) and he is encouraging and instructing him on his ministry at the church in Ephesus. In verse 13 of chapter one, Paul tells Timothy; “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a prosecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” If you do not know about Paul before he came to Christ, he was a murderer of God’s people (violent man), he made fun of the teachings of God (blasphemer). However, God forgave Paul and used Paul in a mightily way for his kingdom.
Like Paul, I have a past I am not proud of, but I am thankful for, because God has used it to further his kingdom. I hesitate to share my past because I have always been a people pleaser and I get very insecure letting people “in.” However, starting this blog has become a part of my journey in sharing my past and current life experiences with you. My only hope is I will be used as an example of Christ’s grace, mercy and forgiveness, because I have personally experienced it and it does me no good if I keep it to myself.
So here is a synopsis of my past experiences that lead me to where I am today…
At the young age of 19, (10 years ago), I began a relationship that would change the course of my life. During this time I was experiencing a “spiritual high” I felt on top of the world everything was perfect and honestly I felt invincible. The only problem was that I was not guarding my heart, because this relationship was with a married man. I allowed small things to creep into my life because I could “handle” them. These small things spiraled out of control and within 8 months I had compromised everything I once valued as a young Christian woman. Because of reaching rock bottom I had no other choice but to seek God, even though I didn’t think I deserved him. My life was falling apart in front of me. I experienced depression for the first time in my life (I still battle with to this day), I had a lot of people to make amends with (I hate conflict). I struggled with who I was and what I truly wanted out of my life, because what the heck was I doing? I have asked the hard questions….Why me God? Why did I have to go through something so hard? I was a Christian, I thought I was doing ok and you throw this in my face!!???
Through it all God remained faithful and placed people in my life to mentor and encourage me, they didn’t let me go. Until this moment in my life I never truly understood what grace meant. The grace I experienced from people reminded me that God truly never gives up on us. He will forgive you. You may even have a good life, but God wants better for you. I felt grace when I confessed everything that was on my heart and asked for forgiveness, there was an immediate release of chains that were holding my soul down. A strong sense of peace and comfort surrounded me, although my circumstance didn’t change immediately, it was a process but I was strong enough to walk through it and come out stronger because of my experiences. I am so glad that He can use what we experience as bad, for his good. When reading this chapter the study version says; “Paul did not hesitate to share his past because he knew his failures would allow others to have hope. At times we hesitate to share our past struggles with others because we are afraid it will tarnish our image. Paul demonstrated that lowering our guard can be an important step in communicating the gospel.”
I struggle lowering my guard because I’m self-concise of others opinions. However, God has been teaching me little by little to share how he worked in my life so that I can be an example for him. I hesitate to share for so many reasons, but the reasons I should share my past far out way the reasons I shouldn’t. How about you? What has God done in your life that you can share with those around you? Don’t be afraid to let others know what Christ has done for you.