Tiller, Mary Kathryn

As I sit to write this story, I hear a familiar lie rustle around in my heart: You don’t have much of a story to tell.

I have lived a life filled with love, joy and peace. Certainly there have been disappointments and loss. I have struggled and cried. But there are no mountaintop highs or rock bottom lows. You see, mine is not a story of dramatic turning points. Instead, it is a story of God who patiently walks, slowly reveals, and relentlessly pursues.

I don’t remember the day I prayed to ask God to forgive my sins. I spoke to God as a child, always aware of His presence and love for me. I participated in Vacation Bible Schools and attended church throughout my childhood and somewhere in there, believed and was saved.

When I was thirteen, my family relocated from Houston to Austin, where we began attending a Bible Church. It is there that I learned God desired not only to save me from my sins, but He desired for me to have a personal relationship with him. I began to fall in love with this God who loved me. I was captivated by His word, and as early as ninth grade, I began to feel a calling to teach and encourage. As I learned more of His ways, I did my best to follow them. I became known as a “good girl” and lived a life relatively free from heartache and regrets.

A funny thing about Satan is that he can twist just about anything–including the gift of a good life. About the time I became aware of my desire to speak and write, I was confronted with idea that my privileged, heartache-free life disqualified me from speaking into other’s lives. Who was I to encourage others when I had never truly suffered? Who was I to teach of faith when mine had never been tested? No one wanted to hear from a good girl with a perfect life. I had no story to tell.

Already embarrassed by my “good girl” status, I began to struggle in college as I watched friends come to Christ with thunder and lightning punctuating their decision to forsake dangerous lifestyles and abusive pasts for a new story. They seemed to connect with Christ in a way that I, as a lifelong believer, simply could not. I was not the prodigal son. I was his brother. And I found myself asking my Father, “Because I’ve always walked in Your ways, does that mean I am not worthy of celebrating?”

Trying in my limited way to reconcile these things, I believed yet another lie:
If my story could not inspire others, then my accomplishments must.

My desire to do the right thing was quickly twisted into self-righteousness. My natural propensity to please was distorted into a lifestyle of people-pleasing and hustle.
I soon forgot what it was to be His beloved daughter.
I only knew how to be a devoted soldier.

Years went by like this. Too many years. Despite serving in ministry and launching a nonprofit, I grew cold and apathetic towards the world. My relationship with God grew perfunctory. I began to feel overwhelmed, tired, and stretched thin in my ministry.  Why?
I was doing it all in my own strength and without love.

I cannot recall the specific day God got my attention because He attempted to reach me every single day.
Eventually, like the tide pulls the sea back from the shore, I began to feel myself drawn back to the heart of God.
Over time, He revealed just how hard my heart had become.
Over months, He reminded me of His love.
Day by day, He turned my eyes off of my accomplishments and back onto Him
and slowly I found renewed life.

My story is not remarkable, and neither am I.
While I have been spared the anguish of walking down many dark roads, my heart holds the seed of every sin like everyone else.
I am a depraved and desperate soul, full of pride and prone to self-righteous behavior.
But I have a God who has set me apart through salvation.
He loves me and longs to work through me; what a marvel that is!
In His infinite grace and wisdom, this is the story He has given me to tell.
And so I will share it all the days of my life.

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