In my youth, as the hardships of my life piled on top of each other I lost my faith in God and relied on myself to prevent the pain and rejection I had come to know so well. I just couldn’t understand how God could help me. I thought it was solely up to me to keep my heart safe and control what happened in my life. So to prevent myself from getting hurt, I decided that I needed to be accepted by my friends, by boys, and the “cool crowd”. I told myself if I wasn’t accepted, I was worthless. As the days went on and my focus remained on my peers opinions, I lost connection with my family which added more deeply to my lost connection with God. With time, I increased the weight of my chains with every action I made to be accepted by men in particular, adding guilt and deepening my self-criticism. I felt as if I couldn’t get out of the pit I dug for myself. I didn’t realize how completely weighed down I was by the chains I had created for myself. I felt I was stuck – with no way out. No family to help me, only people around me who didn’t know who I truly was and didn’t care if I failed. The people I strived for acceptance from didn’t care about me. All they wanted was their selfish needs to be met, they wanted to suffer with someone.. And they had no problem using me for that. In a moment of complete despair, I talked to God for the first time since my childhood. I begged him to help me get out of my abusive relationship. I begged him to put someone in my life to help me. I begged him to remember me. The next day I left the guy who was drowning me with him. I felt I had the strength to get away from the lifestyle I had been living. I contacted my family, and apologized for my actions, and began to make amends with them. My friend Nick, who had stuck by my side even through the time that I couldn’t communicate with him, asked me to be his. And life seemed like it was falling back into place. God remembered me. A few weeks passed by and I started having some pains in my stomach. I went to the hospital to get a doctor’s note for work. Nick came with me and in mid conversation, four nurses walked in and they all put a hand on me. One nurse looked me in the eyes and told me I was pregnant. I immediately broke down in tears. Nick grabbed my hand and told me we could do this together. That he wanted a family with me, no matter who the biological father was. No matter how much he tried to comfort me, I was devastated. Who would accept me now? My parents surely wouldn’t, all of my “friends” would abandon me. So I prayed. And the one thing I realized was that my life would completely change. My life would completely change…. I liked the sound of that. And through that little voice.. telling me things will get better. I grew the strength to move forward. Despite my sister’s attempts to convince me abortion was the right choice for me, and my father’s attempts to convince me I should choose adoption. I decided I could do this. I prayed that God would put someone in my life to help me, to save me. And He did. God gave me my son. I started praying every day. Reading my bible. Building relationships with my family, and building a relationship with God. Before, I never understood why Jesus died on the cross. I thought of it as morbid. I never understood the true meaning behind his sacrifice. One day in the shower I was thinking about God and Jesus, and the reason people wore crosses. In that moment I realized; Jesus sacrificed his life.. being taken by the very people he loves.. to show us what his love truly is.. to show us what he can do for us.. to remind us what it means to be God’s children. And we wear crosses to remind ourselves of this every day. I had an epiphany. As soon as I could, I grabbed my bible and prayed the salvation prayer. I understood now. And I could completely accept Jesus Christ into my heart. It wasn’t until Embrace Grace that I realized those chains I had felt so heavily before were still lingering. We were told to write down our chains on a piece of paper, and wait to go into another room. When my turn came, I was filled with an excitement stemming from somewhere unknown. I had no clue what was in store for me. We talked about my chains and came to the conclusion that every one of them stemmed from my need for acceptance. In that very second, it all made sense. So we prayed. Prayed God would lift the chains from my shoulders, and show me that his acceptance is all I need. God showed me that I am a girl in a white dress, dancing with Him in a field of sunflowers, soaking up the sunlight of his love. Knowing I have always been accepted by God for who I am. God has never taken His gaze off of me. I am his daughter! I AM FREE!
Written by Madeline Fairley