My friend Kaci, is a precious young wife and momma, as well as a fellow Texan! We grew up in the same town and went to the same school, only she’s much younger than I am. She’s a beautiful writer and does a wonderful job of sharing Jesus and encouraging others through her stories. I know you will enjoy and relate to what she’s sharing today.
Life. Life has a funny way of knocking you down only to pull you back up. It gently reminds you that while you think you are in control, you are not. That this life we live was never really ours to begin with and that just when you think you know “who you are” God knocks at the door and wants in. He wants to be in the driver’s seat and you are presented with two choices: either continue holding on to the wheel or let it go and fall into the arms of the One who loves you.
I chose to finally ‘let go of the wheel’ I tried so hard to steer for so long.
I wish I could tell you that was easy for me but it was not. I like to sugar coat it when I say I’m a bit of a control freak ,but truth is there is no going around it. The only difference is the older I get the more I realize I have zero control over anyone or anything but myself. MY MIND, MY CHOICES, MY TIME and MY THOUGHTS. I choose what goes in and what goes out. I choose how I spend my time and with whom and while I wish I could slow down time, I now realize I cannot and what we do with the time God has given us is so important. It was a harsh reality once those things set in.
I grew up in a small town. Well, not necessarily small, but a town in the middle of nowhere. We prided ourselves on “who we were” not as much as “what we did.” I learned at a young age what it felt like to have your feelings hurt and be “left out.” I learned it’s hard being a girl in a small town where everyone watches what you do and what you say. That left me little time to reflect on what God thought of me, but instead what others thought of me. I strived to make others happy. I found myself naturally being kind to what some would call the “under dog” but never really thinking about God in the process. It was just the way I was wired. I had what some would call an “easy” upbringing. I had the best childhood with 2 loving parents who are still married today. I lived on the “good side” of town and I was a leader. I cheered and danced in high school, was on all the prom and homecoming courts, voted most friendly and even class favorite a couple years in a row. To most I looked like I had it all together. And compared to some, I did. But now at almost 32 years old I look back and I was broken. I was lost. I was confused about “who I wanted to be” because I was always told “who I was in other people’s eyes.” I found my identity in these things. I prided myself on being well liked and before I knew it I was crying myself to sleep. I found myself being bullied my senior year of high school, being called names and made fun of. (But how does the popular girl get bullied? some may wonder) I’m here to tell you it happens. Looking back I wish I would have known Christ like I do now. I wish He would have been the center of my life during those tough days because if I would have known my identity rested in who I was as “His” I wouldn’t have cared so much what other seventeen year old girls had to say about me. But I didn’t. I struggled. I was broken and I was lost. How did 18 years go by so fast? How did I wake up and not have a clue what I wanted to do with my life? I knew what I was passionate about. I knew what I loved (or at least I thought I did). But truth is, I didn’t have a clue. I graduated high school and went off to TCU. You can imagine going from a small town to Fort Worth Texas. OUCH. Culture shock. Turns out there were lots of girls who were class favorite in high school. Lots of cheerleaders and girls on homecoming courts and prom courts. Lots and lots and lots of them. At eighteen years old my world started to open.
I was slowly realizing all those things I had found my identity in, all that time, all those “labels” of who I was didn’t matter anymore.
I was a small fish in a VERY big pond. I found myself lost again. I found myself holding on to a steering wheel that I thought I had control over but in reality had no idea where I was going. Who was I exactly?? Who did I want to be?? I didn’t have time for God. I didn’t make time for Him. In fact He wasn’t even on my radar. I was too busy searching for Kaci instead of falling back to the One who knew who I was all along. This was a long road, one that led to a path of self-destruction. One that took me down winding roads of trying new things and trying to find my happiness in everything but God. I looked for happiness in all the wrong places. I longed to be loved, truly loved, but was only left with a broken heart. Not knowing at this time, that in order to be fully loved I must first love God with all my heart, before I could truly love anyone else. I switched majors several times, made friends, lost friends and hurt people along the way. I was lost. I was broken and I had no idea where I was going. I KNEW I needed more. I was raised in a Christian home and in church. I knew GOD and at one time in my life was very strong in my relationship with Him, but I didn’t know how to get back there. I didn’t know what I needed to be me again. To find the person I was longing to be. I remember one specific night of laying in my bed thinking there had to be something more. Something more than “Kaci’s” plan for her life. Something real. It was in that moment I realized I had two options. Keep going, keep holding on the labels, the false idols, the things I thought made me happy, or I could let go. I could learn to trust God again. I could seek His plan for my life and not my own. I knew something had to give. I pulled out an old devotional that night and sure enough it was about loving God first before I could love myself. And before I could ever love anyone else. Slowly my heart began to change. I didn’t want to put all my effort into things that would only let me down. I didn’t want to search for answers I could never find without going to God first and I was tired of finding my identity in things of this world. I wanted to find my identity in Christ. I wanted to be who God wanted me to be no matter how big or small that was.
It wasn’t long after that my husband and I were reconnected after eight years of not seeing one another. It’s crazy looking back how God brought us back together. He was the first boy I ever had a crush on. But God knew I wasn’t ready for him. He knew I had to find myself first. I had to find who I truly was before I could ever love him the way God intended for me to love him. I had to go down that winding road, I had to get to a point in my life where I realized I couldn’t do this life without God. I’m 32 years old now, a wife and a mom of two beautiful baby boys. But most importantly I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I live my days to please Him, not others. I don’t find my identity in the things of this world. I don’t strive to meet the approval of others but I strive to please God. I make every decision, no matter how big or small, with God in my back pocket.
I love to look back at the younger me. The one who thought she could do it all on her own. That people’s opinions were more important than those of her Heavenly Father. I often think of the things I would want to tell my daughter one day if I were to ever have one. We live in a different world. We live in a world that is harsh, it’s cruel and it can knock you down time and time again. We live in a world where who we are matters to some and if we don’t live up we don’t feel good enough. We find ourselves judged and beaten and exhausted. But from what? From trying to keep up? From trying to be who we aren’t? Why? Why do we search for happiness in things that are fleeting? In reputation, money, things of this world that can never make us happy? Why do we continue to stiff arm God in hopes that “we can do it better” Why do we tend to only fall to our knees in times of need but not in times of gratitude? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. But what I do know is the old me is gone. The tired, exhausted lost soul of a young girl who just wanted to be truly loved is gone. Once I let go of the wheel and turned my heart and life over to the only One I can rely on, my life began to change. God blessed my life in more ways than I could have imagined. I slowly found myself. While I am a work in progress, I found that my identity lies in Christ not in the things of this world. I am no longer just a girl, I am the daughter of the One True King who now lives her life trying to live out the plan He had for my life all along. I don’t feel lost anymore, but I feel found and I am forever grateful that God never gave up on me. I was always “enough” in His eyes, the only difference this time around is that now I’m sure of it.