We all have a past. Whether we were raised in church or never darkened the door of one until adulthood, we've all done things we regret. For Michelle, it started with a necklace. I don't remember the specific event or the exact time when the fear and regret entered my heart, but I understand Michelle's heart, because I share it.
For most of my life, my heart and soul ached with the knowledge that I would never be enough. I was thin - but I could always be thinner. My grades were good - but they could be higher. I was in every way the classic "good girl" - but deep down, I knew I could never be good enough. The good girl facade could fool a lot of people, but God knew the sins and struggles of my heart. Even as a child, I knew my soul was dark with sin.
Every time I messed up, every time I failed to live up to the idol of "good enough," I begged for forgiveness. I cried. I prayed. As Michelle says, "Had there been a flagellation whip at hand, I would have used it in an instant, anything to gain a feeling of atonement." I lived so much of my childhood in fear that God would give me what I deserved.
I grew up in church. I asked Jesus in my heart at the ripe old age of five. I loved Him, and I did my best to follow Him. Surrounded by strong examples of faith, I should have been encouraged. Instead, I looked past the lessons and set more impossible standards for myself.
I clearly remember a late night in college, sitting in a truck stop/restaurant with a group of friends. A lady came in for coffee and sat alone, crying. One of friends immediately went to her table. She talked to her, hugged her, prayed with her. I watched, frozen, too shy and fearful to do anything but stare. I cried as I drove back to my dorm. There was no way I could ever do what my sweet friend did that night. Fear and shyness kept me from reaching out - and I convinced myself, once again, that God would never be truly happy with me. I tried to follow all the rules and check off everything on my "good girl" list, but I fell short every time.
College changed everything for me. Well, not college itself, but it was the catalyst. As I dove into Bible studies and college ministries, God worked on my heart. I'll share more as our weekly discussions moved along, but for now, let's just say that God didn't leave me the same.
Tell me what you think about chapter one and how it relates to your life...
1. Do you remember a moment when you really messed up?
2. What has your biggest spiritual struggle been?
3. Did you grow up with a clear picture of faith, or was faith something you saw little of?