She's still there. On the inside of me that 19 year old mess of a girl is still there. We somehow coexist. Sometimes, I feel like I might have multiple personality disorder, but really it's just who I was and who I am. I tried for a long time to lose her, to hide her, to forget her, but I know I never will. She is who I am. She is who I would still be.
She's the girl who made a few bad decision early in life and thought that those things would forever define her, so she became what defined her. She was the girl that people talked about. You know the one... the one with the reputation. The one that girls didn't like and boys did (for a few minutes anyway). She was the one you didn't introduce to your mom or talk about to your friends. She was the secret.
She was the girl who partied hard. The one who cussed like a sailor and could outdrink the boys. She was the girl that drank til she passed out, so that she wouldn't cry herself to sleep. She was the girl who counted and tried to keep track of all her sins, because if she tortured herself enough she might one day be able to change. Change never came. The next day, the next night, the next time it was always the same. Always looking for love, but forever settling for a boy's momentary lust.
She was the girl who hated herself, so she totally understood why everyone else did. She was the girl that mothers are embarrassed of and ask themselves, "What did I do wrong?" She was the girl that you didn't invite to go anywhere with you, because you never know how she's going to act.
20 years ago this Christmas that mess of a girl, who felt worthless, plopped down on the couch at her Mom's house expecting to hang with the fam for the night. Play some games, have some laughs, veg out on momma's famous homemade fudge and just be normal for a bit. This Christmas they changed the plans... They were going to church. WHAT?????? Who goes to church on Christmas???? And what is this newfound fascination with Jesus???? I wanted to scream... "Why are you ruining my Christmas?" They asked me to come along. I was highly skeptical about that. I didn't know a whole lot about church and Jesus, but I knew this one thing... God knows everything. I figured I should probably stay away from His house. It's one thing for Him to know it all, but for me to just walk in and defile his house was a new level of wrong. Girls like me don't go to church.
There was no resisting my tiny momma when she was determined though and off we went to Church on Christmas... It was a little surreal. I couldn't believe that they would even want me to go with them to church. I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself, surely they were too. I wasn't the kind of kid you paraded around to everyone. To make matters 1000 times worse they walked in the doors of this big, beautiful church and kept walking all the way to the 3rd row. There were 25 rows before that we could have sat in, but here we are at the very front of the church. So close to the front that I could actually see sweat on the forehead of the Preacher. I couldn't turn back. I didn't even know anyone in this place. I couldn't leave. There was my sweet, little momma, beaming up at me as if she had just won the lotto. What in the world was she so happy about? My stomach was sick. I had to concentrate real hard just so I didn't puke everywhere.
Eventually after singing a few Christmas songs, that I only at that moment realized had always been about Jesus, the Preacher stands up and starts talking. I really was in a daze and I can't remember all that He said, but in my haze I heard, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believed on Him would not perish, but have everlasting life." This was NOT what I was expecting to hear. You mean the whole reason we celebrate Christmas is because God sent His son for us. For me. Me. This mess of a girl. The worthless, disaster of a girl. The one who allowed herself to be used and abused and thrown away like garbage. The one no one loved, except for the people who brought her into this world. How could God love me?
At the end of his message the preacher asked if anyone wanted to come down to the front and accept Jesus as Savior. Still in a complete daze I realized my arm had gone up of it's own accord, betraying me in front of all these people. Someone grabbed my arm and asked if I wanted them to walk to the front with them. My mouth said yes, while my head was screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOO". It was too late though. The Preacher was already zoned in on me and down the rest of the aisle I walked. "Do you want to give your life to Christ?"... Honestly I have NO IDEA what I want to do, my head was saying, but my mouth said "yes".
The ONLY thing I knew at that moment was, I had just heard for the first time that the God, who KNEW EVERYTHING, said in His own words from the Bible, that His love for the whole world (including me), was so great, that He sent His son, so that my sins could be forgiven. The ONLY thing I knew for sure in that moment was that I wanted forgiveness more than ANYTHING in this world. So, if that meant following Jesus... sign me up and show me how.
It's been 20 years this Christmas since I decided to follow Jesus. I have fallen, He picks me up. I have strayed, He finds me. I have been a hypocrite, He loves me anyway. I have screwed up royally a million times and I have been forgiven every single time. My walk has at times been the stuff of ridicule and scorn, but not by my Savior. His Word has healed me, comforted me, and set me free. It's been 20 years, but I'm still that girl. I will not forget her. I don't think God would let me. I'm that girl that He loved as much that day, when He knew all my ugly secrets, as He does today.
His love has changed me. His Word has been my guide. His hands have held me. His GRACE (unmerited favor) had sustained me. If it were not for Jesus messing up my Christmas 20 years ago my life would look very different today.
"Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be TO ALL PEOPLE. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOR, which is CHRIST THE LORD." Luke 2:10-11
I'd like to thank my Mom, who is now in Heaven with Jesus, for messing up my Christmas and dragging me to Church to meet her Savior. I will forever owe you a debt of gratitude. A baby changes everything!