Gracefully Truthful

Malinda Fugate

My natural tendency was to lie

I have always been something of a perfectionist, so I approached my faith with the same effort. Yet, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it right.

Being a pastor’s kid always inspired assumptions from everyone I’ve met.
No one seems to be able to decide if we should be saints or rebels.

As I’ve grown, I’ve fallen somewhere in between, which has produced my own authentic faith independent of my parents. But to be fair, my journey with the Lord began in church nurseries (shout out to the vintage Fisher Price little people toys) and biblical bedtime stories.

I used to wish I had a “spiritual birthday”, or knew the exact date I had accepted Christ. I’ve loved the Lord from an early age and my faith has matured steadily. Of course, between elementary and middle school, I made sure to respond to altar calls and say the sinner’s prayer more than once at church camps and worship services (you know, just for certainty). But walking through daily life step-by-step with God has developed my relationship with Him. 

I have always been something of a perfectionist, so I approached my faith with the same effort. Yet, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it right. I began to understand that I can never achieve God’s righteousness on my own. My natural tendency was to lie if things got tough, react unkindly when hurt, or make selfish decisions. But God had better plans. Not only did Jesus’ death on the cross offer forgiveness for every wrong I’d done, but the Holy Spirit helps me speak truth, be kind, and consider others more than my self-interest. While I constantly need forgiveness when I mess up, my relationship with the Lord is not merit-based. I can rest in His love knowing that I’m His precious child and that He alone is making me righteous. 

God was with me during the difficult teenage years, full of conflict with my parents. He comforted me as I tried to comprehend the death of classmates in car accidents. God accompanied me on the adventure to an out-of-state college and solo cross-country move. He held my hand as I discovered that many lifelong struggles were part of bipolar disorder, and He held me close to His heart through the depths of depression and highs of mania. The Lord blessed me in marriage and healed me through the heartbreak of divorce. With the gift of creativity, we worked side-by-side to create faith-based stage plays and books. Amazingly, in all of that, He called me to ministry despite my flaws and brokenness. God granted me the privilege of serving kids and families for decades, first as a volunteer and then vocationally.

I’ve had doubts.
I’ve had struggles.
I’ve tried to make sense of hurt and pain in light of God’s good promises.

His presence during the most difficult times has strengthened my faith and helped me grow closer to Him. I am always learning, refining my beliefs in Scripture, and deepening my understanding of His character and His ways as I walk with Him.

Thankfully, God is a real, tangible presence in my life. His love astounds me and overwhelms me constantly, and I pray I can carry that love to everyone I encounter. After such a rich, complex journey with the Lord, I can only begin to imagine what comes next!

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