Sitting here on Holy Saturday brings back a flood of memories of one not so very long ago...
Holy week 2008, was the darkest and then brightest week of my life. I had made some bad choices and gotten into bad situations over the months and years leading up to that week, they had gradually developed into habits, and had taken over my life-- even though i didn’t want them to. I had unknowingly invited demons into my life, and they WOULD.NOT.LEAVE.ME.ALONE. every time i tried to put myself back on the straight and narrow, they’d come and whisper lies to me. literally. i hated myself. I hated life. I hated my family. I hated God for not rescuing me from them, and i intended to do it myself. If you knew me then, you might have noticed there was a little something off in my life, but NO.ONE. knew what i was hiding. No one ever had to either. I was a good liar. I was a good pretender. I was fake. I had begged my way out of church youth band because I hated knowing who i was on sunday nights was different than who i was during the week. It was hard coming up with decent excuses to get out of positions of leadership, without revealing the truth, but I did it. I distanced myself from as many people as I could. I figured it was better to self destruct with as little contact in the outside world as possible. I figured no one would notice or care if i just disappeared. I was believing dreadful, horrid lies.
Even as I go back into my journals from that year, I read entries of hopelessness, pain, fear, hate, anger, worthlessness. Not only was I struggling with these things, but I was broken and defeated by chronic illness. Funny thing is, I still have the chronic illness, but SO MUCH has changed- it no longer holds the power of defeat over me.
I was a ticking-time-bomb, and my time was running out.
My parents had already begun repeatedly asking me what was going on in my life, what was I hiding. I insisted there was nothing. They insisted there was something. I knew what the something was. I wouldn’t tell them, no, i couldn’t. If I spoke my sins aloud, trust would be broken and it would “totally mess up my life as it [was]”
It’s funny in a sad way that I wrote that last phrase in my journal. it’s not like my life as it was was really nice. It was awful! But, finally something inside me pushed for one last chance at freedom and so on a day, about a week after my 17th birthday, I left my bedroom to find my mom. I went to her with the plan of only telling half of what was going on, but as I began the awful story, i realized telling half would get us nowhere. I fought hard with myself that day. But the Spirit of God gave me strength to speak the whole truth. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to tell the truth. I cried and sobbed. I feared my heart was literally breaking inside of me. In the end, when all my dirt was brought to light, when all the lies were exposed, I was overwhelmed at what I had done, what i had believed. BUT, My God is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love! And thank God, my parents chose to be compassionate and loving as well.
As I began to work through my “stuff” with my parents, the demons heightened their assault, almost as if they had been ordered, “no, we’re not losing this one, you get in there and you DO YOUR JOB!” oh boy were they at it. I argued with them. I sobbed and begged them to leave me alone. I had already told the truth, what else could i do?
The end of that week was Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. I had sunk into deep depression. my parents didn’t know what to do with me. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The consequences of my actions were much more than i wanted to bear. I wanted to be done with living. My favorite line in the world was, “I don’t care”. I just kept telling it to myself and my parents. I don’t care about life anymore. I don’t care if God is the only one who gives and takes life. I don’t care how it would impact so-and-so if i took my life. I did NOT care.
I left a heated discussion with my mom and dad, and ran into some wooded area nearby. I just crumpled to the ground and sobbed. My dad cared enough to follow me (now it makes sense that he was probably concerned i would do something ridiculous). He just stood over me for a while (he put aside all his plans for that day to help me get through... thanks, daddy). I don’t remember what exactly occurred next, but let’s fast-forward to that evening. My parents decided that I needed more than what we had tried. So, they called in reinforcements. I was MORTIFIED. TELL OTHER PEOPLE?! I was sure I would be excommunicated, and our church doesn’t even do that! I wished they were kidding.
But they weren’t. Two couples from our church showed up on our doorstep, and sat down with us. When I told them my story, gosh i’m tearing up just remembering, they didn’t scowl, they didn’t freak out, they didn’t judge. All these things I expected, didn’t occur. Instead, they so lovingly encouraged me with scripture, personal stories, words of comfort.
I had hoped for that from my parents, and gotten it, but from OTHERS? who didn’t know or love me as much? I couldn’t believe it. I was amazed, and felt hope rising every second. We talked for quite a long time, and when it came to a close, they laid hands on me and prayed over me. They reminded me that I am safe in the hand of God, and no demon, or even Satan himself has power to control me. When I tell them to leave in the name of Jesus, the Resurrected Son of God, they HAVE TO GO.
They reminded me that my sins had already been forgiven. Thousands of years ago, Jesus died for ME. For what I had done. He knew I would struggle with the devil, and thank God, He knew I would come out triumphant through His Mighty Power.
When the couples left, I went to my room. It was 12:26 on Easter morning. I felt clean, I knew I was forgiven, I had hope that a new day was dawning, that the power of Hell couldn’t keep my Savior down, and my Savior would not let it keep me down.
I am free.
To this day, when those fleeting lies come, that I’m worthless, that life’s not worth it, I turn my eyes to Jesus Christ, and remind them i never have to go back to where i've been, because I know that my worth is found in Christ. My whole aim is to make much of Him and what He has done for me.
He called me out of darkness and into glorious light.
This is why I love Easter. This is why I love to share the gospel of Christ. It is life changing. If we don’t have Christ to live for, we have nothing. we are nothing. He is everything and He is amazing.
I am SO. Thankful. for God’s grace and for loving, godly parents and friends. When i got myself lost, they brought me to the cross for forgiveness and direction. When I cried, they hugged me. When i struggled, they instructed me. I owe my very life today to the truth of the gospel and the dedication of other believers to not let me go my own way.
To me, this will never be just the night before Easter. To me, this is the celebration of my very life. My life in Christ.
In my life there are trials, there is pain, there will be mistakes, depressions, heartaches and crimes. Jesus himself said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but", he said, "BUT take heart, for
I. HAVE. OVERCOME. THE. WORLD.”
I live for that man. That God. That Jesus, the one who trampled over death by death, who rose in the glory of resurrection power to sit at the honored right hand of God, who made a way for me to be saved. I believe that. I live for that. I live because of that.
Happy Resurrection Day, y’all. He’s alive, and we’re forever freed!