Sketched Day 15 Shannon
Read His Words Before Ours!
I used to be deeply ashamed of my past,
but I’ve learned God has used every part of my journey to shape and mold me into the woman I am today. Although there were many dark moments, I wouldn’t change them. These have become part of my testimony to the faithfulness and hope found only in God.
Growing up, I was taught to attend church on Sundays, pray at meals, ask forgiveness and then we are good. So that’s pretty much how I lived my life. I went to church, messed up, prayed, asked forgiveness and repeat.
I checked every “good Christian” box, but I had yet to experience or know Jesus.
I was raised in a loving home with parents who were always present for dance recitals, plays, and piano concerts. What I never realized, however, was how hurtful missing out on three little words from your daddy could be: my dad has never told me he loves me.
He has always been there for me, hugs me, and is active in my kids’ lives, but I’ve never heard those three words from him.
Their absence left a lasting impression on me.
Starting in middle school and moving into high school and college, I began believing lies that I was fat, ugly, and no good. In order to push those words behind me, I would seek male attention in any way that I could.
Then, I hit college and was on my own.
I found myself in places I shouldn’t have been,
doing things I shouldn’t have done.
I believed that, as long as I could get a guy to like me, I had worth.
During this season, I often had thoughts of suicide, but I could push those thoughts away by finding male attention. That lifestyle stuck with me until after I graduated college, came home, and met Ryan.
I slowed down my crazy lifestyle and we began dating. Not long after, Ryan and I were married, and pretty soon I was pregnant with our first daughter, Alexis.
Since Ryan’s story is similar to mine, neither one of us had ever been taught how to live our lives for Jesus and our marriage suffered.
We argued a lot, and I sank back into my familiar dark thoughts and self-hatred.
Being pregnant, we decided it was time to find a church.
Because that’s what we do: we go to church on Sundays.
We visited Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, MO and began attending. For quite a while we sat in the back, stayed quiet, and the familiar cycle continued.
Then I started working in the church nursery, because I love babies and
things started to change.
The lady I worked with took me under her wing and started teaching me about who Jesus really is. We made decisions to follow Jesus and Ryan and I were baptized together.
“Normal” was changing and old cycles were breaking!
The beginnings of new life were taking root in us, but we had much growing to do.
One Sunday, I found a community group for Law Enforcement Officers. Being a law enforcement family, I immediately thought we needed to go. Later, I realized it was God nudging me, but at the time, it was my own brilliant plan. I dragged Ryan to the group.
Initially, we were two of the quietest introverts anyone had ever met.
We arrived at the home of Steve and Robin Wright, who are now dear friends and missionaries in Ecuador. They greeted us, welcomed us, and for the first six months we sat in the corner and didn’t say a word.
We eventually started coming out of our shells, and it was undoubtedly the community I found within that group of genuine Christ-followers that encouraged me to grow in Jesus as He has shaped me into the person I am today.
Robin also struggled with self-worth and identity in Christ, and she drew on her experiences to teach me how to love myself as Jesus loves me. She taught me how to live every day for Jesus, and how to recognize the source of my pain, truly forgive, and put it behind me. Steve did the same for Ryan and our marriage prospered.
The Wrights also introduced us into the student ministry at church. I went from saying, “I hate middle schoolers,” to becoming a middle school small group leader and eventually high school group leader. Today, I’m discipling and leading young women, teaching them how to love themselves and let go of believing dark thoughts and lies in their own minds.
Because of the struggles in my own journey,
I understand their hurt.
Because God met me in my pain and rescued me,
I can share of the comfort and hope I’ve found.
Through the student ministry, Ryan and I took our first mission trip to Haiti together where God opened our hearts to adoption. We have since taken many more mission trips and adopted our son, Mason, from China in June of 2017.
Although I’ve made many mistakes throughout my life and experienced some dark times,
I know God was with me every step of the way.
Because of Jesus’ transformation, I know how to love myself the way Jesus loves me,
and I am freed to help other girls to do the same.
Only because I’ve experienced Christ’s love is this new life of love and ministry possible!
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