16: An Open Letter to Who I Used to Be (A Guest Post)

Allow me to begin by saying how humbled and honored I am to host my dear friend Sarah here today. I first encountered Sarah’s blog over a year ago through a little gathering called Five Minute Friday. I immediately loved everything about this woman, from her amazing ombre hairstyle to her amazingly honest and vulnerable style of writing. Over the past several months, she has become a close friend and confidant. Though the miles may separate us physically, her warm, vibrant, and encouraging spirit seems to always be right in sync with my own. Hailing from The Sunshine State, Sarah loves photography, the beach, antique stores, blue fine point pens, her husband Cameron, and their sweet and rambunctious daughter, who she has affectionately nicknamed “Beastie” (this is not an exhaustive list). But more than that, her love for Jesus astounds me. She writes clear and hard about faith, her family, adoption, and her battle with infertility. To connect with Sarah, you can follow her blog, like her on Facebook, and follow her hilarious tweets.


Post and Photo via Sarah Beth Sandel

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I’ve gotten pretty good at summing up ‘who I used to be’ by now – When my ability to ‘be good’ ran out, I grew so angry and ashamed. I didn’t believe I was forgiven, I didn’t know I was enough and I didn’t believe I was loved. That makes it sound a little less painful than it was, when those post-college years of wandering and wondering and acting the fool still feel embarrassingly fresh. But it’s been nearly a decade of redemption and healing and God, you are so enough and I am face-to-dust grateful for Your unending compassion and forgiveness.

Who I used to be knew God was good and kind, but when I was unable to actually be good and kind, I believed I was carving a chasm between my spirit and His. I didn’t yet know we were one because of Christ. So I charged ahead making choices and taking wild steps and bearing the hurtful consequences of a distorted view of the Christ-life.

It’s painfully true that “wounded people wound people”.

When my disappointment and shame at my own choices began to deepen into anger and anxiety, I became a woman I didn’t know. I made ugly choices because I believed I was ugly and that others saw me as ugly. People precious to me were deeply hurt by my words and behavior. For some, seeing me at my worst was used of God to pursue me harder and to extend grace upon grace. For others, my worst became the tool they used to harden their hearts. For the former, I am so grateful. For the latter, I am so grieved.

Who I used to be was a woman lost, desperate to know a gracious Father and believing the lies that whispered He was withholding from me. I had a wide (read: shallow) knowledge of who I was in Christ that was effecting little to zero change in me in those days. I remember sitting on the counselor’s couch saying something like, “Yes, I know that. I know that, too. But it’s not making a BIT of difference in my life. WHY?”

All the information I had had not yet dissolved into a knowing. What I understood to be true had yet to make its way to my heart – and it would require years and years of practicing what was true before I began to “see” the difference.

I’m not going to analyze my upbringing or criticize my parents or condemn the 90s Christian culture or suggest that somehow the Church is to blame for my wilderness years. There are enough bloggers doing that. I don’t have to, because now my view of Christ is so much bigger – it’s so wide and deep that I can see everything I walked through as coming from the hand of God to woo me, refine me, convince me, love me, and draw me unto Himself. All things are God’s servants.

All things.

My anxiety and anger was God’s servant, the sound of His voice saying, “Sarah, you are making your home in something other than My perfect love.”

Over the past ten years, I have learned what it looks like to reside in His perfect love. To believe that His life is attached to mine and that if He did not spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all – will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

I can be grateful for the “all things” God used to make Himself known to me, so that I could know His immeasurable patience and lovingkindness and His holiness.

Who I used to be didn’t know that Christ is in all things and before all things and in Him all things hold together. She believed that her behavior and her choices had more to say about her life than did Christ Jesus. But –praising Jesus– now I can receive the bitterness along with the sweetness knowing that Christ is over all. I no longer feel at home in sin, because I make my home in the abiding love of Jesus.

I am so grateful I am not who I used to be.

And so thankful that, by God’s grace and by His indwelling life and the work of the Spirit, I am becoming more of who I am in Him.

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Some Fine Print:

This is the sixteenth of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October.
To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here.
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