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Category Archives: Relationships

When I was broken, You made all things new again – Shay’s story

IMG_3163God 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.

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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.

When I doubt Your Existence, You Restore My Faith – Patricia’s Story

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This story is for all of us. Circumstances in the world, in our lives, or in the lives of others have certainly made us ask these questions, “How can He be real when all of this is happening?” or “If He is real, why would He allow such terrible, tragic things to occur?” We may never have answers on this side of heaven, but I am constantly encouraged by how He works and moves in our lives when we continue to doubt, when we continue to have questions, and when the unfathomable happens to us or someone we love. What the enemy meant for evil, God uses for good.

I would characterize my childhood as blissful. As a family of four, we were really close. My younger sister and I were part of a father/daughter camping club for years that took up most weekends growing up. Outside of that, we would vacation together, take RV trips with family friends, and spend weekends at the beach. Life was easy. We were Sunday church go-ers (because everyone was in my small town) and I gave my life to the Lord my freshman year of high school at a summer camp.

My senior year of high school, I started applying to colleges and received an acceptance letter from Georgia Tech. It was my parents’ alma mater, and even though it was out of state for me, I knew this was where I wanted to go since I intended to study engineering just like my parents did.

When it was time to move in, my parents and sister drove me up to Georgia Tech and we spent the weekend exploring Atlanta, taking tons of pictures, and getting excited about the adventure I was about to embark on. Little did I know, that was the last time our family of four would be together.

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Two months into my freshman year of college, I got a surprise visit from my dad. I had joined a sorority and it was initiation week. I was walking back from a meeting with my sorority sisters and I heard my name. I turned around and saw my dad there. My initial joyful reaction turned into terror very quickly. He said the words I never expected to hear: “Your mom and I are getting a divorce and I’ve moved out.” Wait, what? My parents never fought, I mean never. They were happy. I could name 50 of my friends’ parents in my hometown that I would have expected this from before mine. I was totally, completely blindsided. The part I hate most about telling this story is that it’s so common. Many people probably have a very similar story to mine. But that fact doesn’t make it any less painful when it’s your family that is torn apart. You see, it shatters dreams you didn’t even know you had. Like your parents dancing at your wedding, taking your future kids to their grandparents house one day, all holiday traditions you spent 18 years building will never happen again.

The next year that followed was rough. After my dad shared the news with me, I cried for three days straight. I eventually got tired of crying and stopped. But then, there were other emotions — I was angry and hurt. I didn’t want to deal with it, which was easy for me since I wasn’t in the same state as my parents. So I kept living my life, distancing myself from my family because I hated the pain. I didn’t want to go home because it hurt me so much to see my mom’s heart so broken. My sister was rebelling. My dad had moved on. At some point, I was so tired of my dad reaching out and trying to fix our relationship that I told him I needed a break. For six months we didn’t speak. I refused to see him. My life spiraled.

During all of this, a spiritual battle was waging war within me. My numbness toward my family situation caused numbness in my relationship with God. My anger at my dad manifested in anger toward God. My broken childhood caused me to doubt if God was even real in the first place. It took a year of counseling to see the connection. I stopped going to church because when I did, I couldn’t sing the words. They felt like a lie. I would sit in the back and cry. It was easy to have faith when life was simple and happy. But when it wasn’t, it had to be rooted in something deeper, and mine wasn’t. So the doubts and questions crept in — What if this is all a joke? Is Christianity even logical? The questions consumed me, and started making more sense. So I gave up on faith. Because faith isn’t concrete. You can’t see it, so why would I stake my life in it?

For whatever reason, before it got really bad, I had applied for a leader position with a Christian mission’s organization that summer. The plan was to spend the summer in South Dakota with three other college students, hosting high school groups and doing mission work on the Indian reservation. I almost didn’t go. Ironically, my role there was worship leader and teacher. Yea, the girl who wasn’t going to church. I went, however, for lack of a better summer plan.

It was a difficult summer, don’t get me wrong. I cried a lot at the beginning. My heart wasn’t totally in it. Every week I spoke to different groups about the same topics. Thursday night was forgiveness (keep in mind I’m currently not speaking to my dad). Every week, I was telling groups of students that we’re supposed to forgive because God forgives us. Well, the repetition did me good. One week it all clicked. I had two issues going on: unforgiveness and doubt. First, God finally made it clear that He forgives us so that we can live in total freedom. That freedom, combined with God’s power in us, allows us to forgive. He freed me that summer, and my relationship with my dad has slowly been restored ever since. Second, God worked a miracle that week. I honestly can’t remember all of the details. Something we’d been praying for the whole summer happened in a way that completely shocked us. In an instant, all the doubts that had plagued me vanished. Not because it proved He was real, but because I couldn’t look at the world anymore and prove He wasn’t there. It was taking more faith for me to accept everything as accidents and coincidence than faith in a God who orchestrates. What I love about God is how He weaves our lives into beautiful tapestries and gives us glimpses sometimes to see it from His perspective.

He used the divorce in a mighty way. My mom and sister both found deep relationships with the Lord through the grieving. The three of us are extremely close, on a much deeper and more authentic level than when our lives looked blissful.

He used my doubts to minister to others. I’m currently leading a class at church for people who need basic questions about Christianity answered — it’s a class for people who were right where I was. Only now, I’m convinced — with a passion to help others navigating the tough questions also see truth.

He used my unforgiveness to extend grace and mercy to people around me. Over the past few years, my heart has been increasingly opened to love people more than I could before — to give people grace because we’re all human.

He used my shattered dreams to make new ones. Actually, I think it’s more like He gave me perspective. That this life and our earthly dreams aren’t it. We have a bigger purpose, a bigger hope that awaits us. He freed me from holding on to the things of this earth so tightly.

God’s not done. I’m young and certainly don’t think this is the biggest battle that I will face, but He used it to build a foundation. Ephesians 3:14-21 was prayed over me during that year:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

And man, did He answer those prayers! He used it to make me “rooted and established in love.” He has shown me that “His love surpasses all knowledge.” I know now that He can do “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.” May He get the glory!

I met my one, true love and He is perfect – Dianne’s Story

XSV1UVLKCCThis story continues to encourage me no matter how many times I read it. The Lord never stops his pursuit of our hearts — even when we stumble, even when we fall back into the bondage of sin, He is there, waiting, with open arms. No matter how many times we try to slip out of His grasp, He never lets go.

I had a wonderful childhood — I grew up with awesome parents and two amazing older sisters. We’ve always been believers – meaning we professed faith in God – but we did not attend church or live out our faith on a regular basis. My dad taught me how to pray, and my mom taught me the stories of the bible. From a young age, I knew there was a God –but what I didn’t know, was if God was just someone I had learned about in the Bible or if He actually was alive in me.

I truly believe God uses our biggest weaknesses to draw Him closer to us and to strengthen our faith. For me, that weakness is and always has been matters of the heart and relationships. My weakness started at a young age and has created a 15-year cycle only One could break —  Jesus.

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I was 14 years old — my first year of high school. One look was all it took and I was in love. This beautiful, doe-eyed man with dark hair was just plain “cool”. Not only was he cool, but he was hard to get and wild to hang out with. You know, the typical “bad boy”. But wait, he thinks I am pretty? Me? Little old me? This is when I got a taste of the feeling I became addicted to for years to come. He was my drug and I would stop at nothing to get my fix. Throughout all of this, I remained sexually pure. He had my emotions, my heart, my mind and my self-worth, but he did not have all of me.

Now, at 18 years old, I was considered a “good girl”. Who waits until 18 to have sex these days? All of my friends had lost their virginities at this point, and eventually, I followed in their footsteps. I lost my virginity to my first love, the “cool” guy. I call him “my drug” because that’s all he was, and all every guy after that would be.

A month later, I see a positive sign. And no, not in the spiritual sense. Here I was, 18 years old, had sex one time, the first time, and I was pregnant. At this point, my high school first love had left me for another girl. Lost and alone, with serious bouts of depression, I told only two people at the time. One begged me to keep it, the other just shook her head in disbelief. I will never forget the shame and lowness I felt that day. When I told him, he begged me not to keep it. He said he would kill himself if he had a baby right now, and offered to pay for it. That was it — $75 later and it was done. My life was forever changed and it is the biggest regret I have thus far

Despite everything that happened, I spent the next four years fighting for this same man, “my drug” — the one who told me to have an abortion. I couldn’t survive without the feeling he gave me. It became my source of happiness, and when he tried to take that away, I couldn’t handle it. We ran with a faster crowd — lots of drinking, partying, and emotional abuse. It’s hard to believe, but the biggest and most traumatic experience of my life was about to unfold. 

Someone very dear and close to me was dating her first love at the time. He was older and friends with my first love. They dated for years — he was like the older brother I never had. One night, his girlfriend (my dear friend) was working. I decided to go out with him and a few other friends to our usual hangout until she got off work. Before I knew it, I was extremely intoxicated. It happened so fast. I kept saying, “something was put in my drink. I need to go”. He took me home and “took care of me”, or so I thought — He put me in the shower to help me “sober up”, made a nice “bed” next to the toilet so I would feel comfortable, and the next thing I know, he slid up right behind me.

I ran out of his place hysterically crying. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. His roommate saw me undressed, crying and believed something else had happened. I didn’t care. I knew what had happened and I just wanted to leave. I ran to my first love’s house hoping for some comfort. I didn’t get any — he didn’t believe me. No one did. My dear friend came home the next day and I told her everything with not a breath in my lungs. Thankfully, she believed me, confronted him and he said, “I don’t know. I may have done that”. She gave him a good slap, but two weeks later, they were both bribing me with Rascal Flatts tickets. I guess the pain of reality was too much for her, or deep down she didn’t believe me either. As sure as the air I breathe, I know what happened that night. God knows what happened that night. I was taken advantage of by someone very close to me.

After years of emotional abuse from my first love, and bullying from the women he left me for, I started to really feel that this was normal. Then, I noticed the dear friend I mentioned above started to have a different aura about her. I couldn’t explain it. She was more peaceful, confident and wise. I was curious as to what had changed. She introduced me to Northland Church. The pastor’s messages really spoke to her heart and it started to change her. She eventually left the man who took advantage of me and is now happily married with kids. Not many people have the heart and good nature she does. I decided to start going to church with her. I prayed God would give be a sign, a burning bush, anything to help me get over my first love and change my life. On the outside, everyone saw a beautiful, happy life — a girl who “had it all”. But on the inside, I was dying.

One night, on the way to church, my dear friend and I were talking about my situation with my first love and how I cannot break the cycle with him. No matter what he did to me or what happened, I couldn’t leave. Family and friends were very concerned. I explained to her, “It feels like I am constantly playing tug of war with God”. I have always heard God’s voice, but I refused to listen. I felt God was pulling one end of the rope saying, “No child, you are not to be with this man,” while I was pulling the other end disobediently replying with, “Yes, yes I will.” When I explained this inner turmoil/battle to my friend, her answer was simple and sweet. “Well, my money is on God.” Thirty minutes later into the service, our pastor says to the hundreds of people in the crowd, “Sometimes you are going to feel like you are playing tug of war with God. Well, brothers and sisters, my money is on God.” The crowd laughed and I just stared in disbelief. I look over at my friend who was looking at me with an expression not of surprise, but of, confirmation. She wasn’t surprised our Almighty Father sent such a profound message that was perfect for me. I left church that night, my faith forever changed.

Years went on. My faith was changed, but my heart and self-worth were not. You think I would’ve learned my lesson at this point, but that was not the case. I entered another toxic relationship with a different man. I finally left the first one, but replaced him with a better version of “the drug” I was used to. No one understood it. I was a good girl — I didnt do drugs or cheat. I had a great upbringing, good friends and a wonderful career. But, my biggest weakness caused the biggest heartaches and trapped me in a downward spiral of sin. I chased these men. I chased “the drug”. All the while, my deepest inner desire was to be loved and a part of a healthy, loving, faith-based relationship. To be wooed and swept off my feet. To love a man unconditionally and have that love returned. I was so far from it.

At that moment, it hit me and my world changed. This man I have been dreaming about all my life has been with me this whole time. Jesus. He had been fighting for me over and over for 15 years. He gave me so many outs, second chances and graceful love. I started crying. I couldn’t believe that the One I kept turning my back on and ignoring, was the One who was giving me what I was searching for all this time. To chase and fight for me with unconditional love. Oh, how beautiful that love is. My love story with Jesus reminds me so much of the book of Hosea. I “relapsed” and ignored God so many times. I committed sins that I am certain hurt him. But no matter what, no matter how much time went by, he fought for me. He thought I was worth it. It’s time I started to believe it as well.

I recently ended the toxic, four-year relationship. It’s something I should have done from the beginning, but I am okay with it. My four-year “loss” was truly a gain in that it changed that man and brought him closer to God. It also changed me. It helped me to realize who my true love has been all this time. I couldn’t ask for more. God works in such mysterious ways.

At 28, I can say for the first time that I am truly content. I am confident, and slowly starting to find my self-worth. Ironically, God has placed a man in my life recently who is so different from the others. I believe this is a second chance. I don’t know what will happen, but I am willing to step out in faith and trust God.

I look back at where I’ve been, and where my dear friend was compared to where she is now. Her beautiful life and family, full of faith and love. I’ve learned, contrary to what my type-A personality would like to believe, nothing is perfect. We all have our path, our thorns, our hurts and our victories. It is all part of God’s glorious plan and the only advice I can share is to just let go and let God. The more you choose to ignore God, the more hardened your heart gets. And that’s a dangerous place to be. Your Father will never stop loving you or give up on you. No matter what you’re facing, please remember that. Close your eyes, take a leap of faith and get ready to experience the best love story of your life!

Let him go, but hold on to me – Marie’s story

This story gives me so much hope. Nothing in our lives is beyond repair or restoration. He makes beauty from ashes.

In November 2000, after 13 years of marriage and many empty threats to divorce, it finally happened. We crossed the line of threatening and decided to go through with it.  At least he did — I just decided to let go and let him have what he thought he wanted.  

Although maybe I shouldn’t jump so quickly to that part of the story. After all, that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, but there were other problems and many of them were my doing.

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I knew I loved him the night we sat in his car after a date. He bawled like a baby because at 23 years old, his mom and dad were getting a divorce. We were both Christians and during our courtship vowed that the “D” word would NEVER enter our vocabulary.

My husband and I married in March 1987 and marriage was wonderfully hard. The process of two becoming one physically, not so rough. Emotionally, relationally… ouch!  We figured it out, though, and shared the journey with four kids along the way. My husband worked two jobs so I could stay at home and homeschool our children, but the exhaustion, financial pressures and my knack for dissatisfaction (with almost everything) created distance. Somewhere in our thirteenth year, he fell out of love with me. I was devastated.  

It’s important to know that I am the youngest of five children — my closest sibling 10 years my senior. I was the joy of my family, not just to my parents, but also to my siblings who spoiled me rotten. I had never been unloved or disliked. How could this be happening to me? How could he possibly not love me? I had no idea what to do. I was embarrassed and broken. An active church member, a homeschool mom, I was the “perfect” Christian wife and mother — how could my husband not love meMy entire identity bubble burst and I was too proud to see how flawed that perspective really was.  

I was without hope, so I did the only thing I knew to do. I lifted my eyes unto the hills, that’s where my help comes from, my hope was in the Lord — I dug deep into Jesus. I wept with Him, poured over His Word, cried out to Him on my knees. I sought counsel and became deeply dependent on the encouragement of a few women God placed in my life “for such a time as this.” The Precept Ministries study “Covenant” was pivotal in my hope. The verses that I clung to were, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 and “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17. I prayed Philippians 1:9 over my husband at night, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth and insight…”  It was the hardest and sweetest season of my life. Don’t get me wrong, my relationship with my husband was volatile and I was very angry at him for abandoning his love for me, but Jesus filled his shoes. He (Jesus) began to whittle away at my pride. He began to show me where I was at fault. He began to challenge me regarding my lack of love for my husband, by revealing my selfishness and by teaching me to love by releasing my hold on him. All this time, my husband had been my god. I depended on him for my worth and value. I expected his perfection and berated him when he wasn’t the biblical model of a husband.  

That night when he said he didn’t love me, I wanted God to fix it right away. I foolishly believed this was about Him changing my husband, but it wasn’t — it was about Him changing me. God took that broken, prideful little girl and taught her how to love someone even when they didn’t love you in return. I ironed shirts, made dinner, gave up homeschool, went back to work, went to counseling, read books on marriage. I did a lot of things, but the most effective thing I did was surrender to God’s will. Whatever he told me to do, I did — including letting my husband go when he said he wanted to leave. Oh, it hurt. I honestly think God saved me from taking my life that night because I was undone, but I knew that I had to let go. When I did, my husband was left standing alone and the only person left for him to hold on to was Jesus.  

After my husband realized he had nowhere to go, he accepted that divorce was not the answer and he was willing to work on our relationship. My brother came alongside us in that season and led us through a VHS bible study. He would come over, park his van in the driveway, and we would watch the video series and discuss the questions — that way, we remained close to our kids. We also started meeting with our church pastor. It was a period of about two years of work and restoration and God was the one who orchestrated the healing.

We celebrated 28 years of marriage in 2015. We have grandkids! We are growing old together. He is no longer my god, I only have room for one of those, but he is surely my partner. God redeemed what the locusts had stolen – He restored two broken people to Him and that resulted in the redemption and restoration of their marriage. God makes bricks from straw. To Him be ALL glory and honor and praise — forever and ever. 

Truth Speaks © 2017