God takes every broken piece of our hearts and lives and redeems it. When our hearts stray and we look for satisfaction, self-worth and contentment in other places, He draws us back in and reminds us that he is our portion forever and will never let us go.
I grew up attending private school and recognized Jesus as my Savior at a young age. I was very sheltered and naive — I loved following the rules and was known as the “Goody Two- Shoes” at my school. I had many friends, most of which I had grown up with since kindergarten. The summer after tenth grade, I met a boy who caught my eye — Chris. We began dating and it stuck. It started out great, but then everything changed.
My relationship with Chris was very stormy. People in my life tried to convince me that something was off, but I wouldn’t listen. I lost many friendships and isolated myself. My response to friends who questioned our relationship was always defensive. Chris experienced the death of two of his best friends early into our relationship and I knew that he was deeply affected by this trauma. We had been through so much because of this and had a significant amount of emotional attachment. He was my first love and because I knew that he had a wonderful family and wonderful friends, I refused to believe that he may not be right for me. As time wore on, he started to have angry outbursts and used inappropriate words with me. I wasn’t able to openly share with others about what I was going through. Near the end of our dating relationship, it got to the point where I couldn’t pray anything other than, “God, please help me.”
When our relationship ended initially, I was relieved, but still devastated. Little did I know that I would end up going back to him several times because I no longer recognized myself without him. It felt like four years of my life didn’t count.
Once our relationship ended for good, I was very broken. The transition from high school to college had been difficult — I hadn’t made many new friends and felt very alone. In my mind, I had always envisioned college being a wonderful, carefree experience, but it wasn’t panning out that way. It was in these tender moments that I relied on God more heavily than ever before. I realized that God wanted me to repent of the idolatry I had placed on my attachment to Chris. The Lord brought me comfort with 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, my favorite passage: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” The scriptures helped me find purpose in my brokenness and sadness: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-8
The summer (just after the break-up) I was encouraged by my sister to go on a ten-week missions trip with Campus Crusade for Christ (also known as Cru). God placed such amazing people in my life on this trip who became my community. I made some of the deepest friendships I have ever had, and I had the opportunity to do a lot of praying and talking with the Lord about what I was going through. My faith grew exponentially. Thankfully for me, about 20 out of the 80 people on the trip were from my school, so I went back to school that fall with a supportive community all around me.
I know God uses our journeys and works them for our good (Romans 8:28). He speaks to us through scriptures and wise council, particularly in areas where we are broken. I’ve grown so much in the last several years. Reading “The Search for Significance” by Robert McGee and “Radical” by David Platt were very impactful for me as well as leading and attending Bible studies with other women who offered encouragement and accountability. More recently, I attended the Passion conference and have gained wisdom from participating in Beth Moore’s studies on “Esther”, “Revelation”, and “James.” I know God is not finished yet. I’ll never get to the place where I’m “done” being sanctified by God until I reach heaven and spend eternity with the Lord.
Remember how I said 20 other people on the mission trip were from my school? Four years after that trip, one of those people became my husband. His name is Matthew, which means “a gift of the Lord.” I don’t think that’s an accident. Not because my life is complete now that I am married — it isn’t. Not because he’s perfect — he isn’t. Not because I’m perfect — quite far from it. But, I do believe God picked him for me and planned for his name to mean ‘God’s gift.’ Why? The Lord knew that I would tangibly see His love for me through my husband’s kindness, gentleness and steadfastness. Every good and perfect gift, after all, is from above.