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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I never knew why he looked so sad up there. Jesus, that is, hanging on the cross. I wondered.
Not knowing in the first place why He was even on it.

Legalism wasn’t taught from the pulpit, but it was a big part of my church’s culture. I pushed back on those legalistic aspects by painting my nails, wearing my hair in a braid, and piercing my nose.

A baby was not in my plans for college, fun, or freedom.  Because my boyfriend didn’t want children, he suggested abortion. No one ever has to know, and since it’s legal, how could it be so wrong?

I knew “about” God, but I didn’t know Him. When I realized my grandmother was no longer alive, I fell to the floor and poured my heart out to God. That is when I truly accepted Christ into my life.

I was adopted at 7 weeks old by incredible parents who gave me an amazing childhood. I had visited church a few times with my aunt and loved it so much I begged my parents to take me.

We are all called to tell our stories to fulfill the Great Commission. My story isn’t dramatic, but hear me; there are no dull testimonies! People plant the seed, but it is God who gives the increase! 

My parents’ divorce radically changed my life. Even at eight years old, I felt as if the bottom had fallen out of my life—as if everything I knew to be true was really a lie.

My testimony involves many phases of my life, rather than one particular moment. I have always had questions about my faith, even when I was little, but I never knew to whom to take them. 

At fifteen, my mom gave birth to me. Immediately, she presented me to my grandmother to raise. As far back as I can remember (four years old), until the age of eleven, I was sexually abused. 

There is no way I could have ever imagined the course that my life would take… 
At the age of four, my family moved to Nigeria as missionaries. 

This is my story.  This is me.
A real person with a real history and real scars and real feelings and real fears and a real Savior and a real faith and a real calling. 

My home-life was upside-down; my father was absent from the picture and my mother battled with dependence on drugs and alcohol my entire childhood.
I had no idea how to cope…

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I was struggling with serious heart issues where my parents, specifically my dad, were concerned. I didn’t know how to verbalize my heartache, so I just withered inside.

So like any other, I am debating whether to click the ‘X’ in the top right hand corner. Sharing is harder than it seems, but here is the TRUE story of how I came to Jesus and why I love this Christ.

My mom taught me early on there are three things that you must always do:
be honest,
treat people fairly,
and above all, trust God.

I have lived a life filled with love, joy and peace. Mine is not a story of dramatic turning points. Instead, it is a story of God who patiently walks, slowly reveals, and relentlessly pursues.

The problem was this: doing one right thing doesn’t take back all the wrongs, erase all the hurts or heal all the broken pieces inside of you.
Only Jesus can do that.

I cringed to notice that I seemed to identify with the Pharisees and where they were coming from. Although I knew that good works were not what saved me, I still believed I deserved salvation.

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