It was early 2017 that I shared my story for the first time. My whole story. I went to coffee with a new friend that I made at a new church and decided that the time had come. I was scared. I was nervous. “What if she thinks of me differently?” “What if she judges me?” “What if she never wants to talk to me again?” These are questions I had been asking myself for years anytime I thought about opening up about the choices of my young adult life. I drove up to the coffee shop, took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and walked in boldly.
I grew up going to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I went to youth group every week and loved going to the youth retreats that my church offered. I loved going to church and thought I was a really good Christian. Then I experienced something that would change my life forever.
The summer before my senior year I started my first job and met a girl that I instantly became friends with. It was the summer and when we weren’t working we were hanging out. We became very close very quickly. Then our friendship turned into something more. Without even noticing, I had found myself in a relationship with another woman. I was shocked at first thinking, “Wait, how could this happen to me?” This turned my world upside down and made me question everything I had ever been told to believe. This relationship went on throughout my senior year of high school. I went to work and was discriminated against. I went to school and was talked about. I went to church and people whispered about me. When I graduated high school, my family moved to Iowa and I stopped talking to them. I stayed in my hometown and moved into an apartment with the girl that I thought I loved. After a year, I found out that she had cheated on me. My whole world came crashing down. I gave up my family, I gave up my friends, I gave up my belief that I would go to heaven to be with this girl and she did the same. All I could think about was if someone who gave up everything to be with me would hurt me so badly, what would stop someone from hurting me who didn’t have to give up anything at all?
I ended the relationship and I didn’t know what to do next and I didn’t know how to cope. I was afraid to ever be in a relationship again and allow someone to hurt me that badly. So the walls went up and I decided to try numb the pain with other things, but nothing worked. I continually made poor choices and they only ended up leaving me feeling empty and alone.
I finally decided to move to Iowa where my family was. I needed to mend the relationships that were fractured over the course of the last couple years. I decided I would go to church again. Maybe that would help me. Maybe that would fill the void. I went to church and while it brought a source of comfort it didn’t have the impact I desired.
I felt unworthy. I felt dirty. I felt like damaged goods.
My feelings of unworthiness brought me to make poor choices again. I met a guy and we quickly turned into more than just friends. We moved into together and I lived this double life. I still had the desire to go to church because that was something I loved to do, but I knew the life I was living wasn’t what I was meant to live. I was stuck. I was stuck in a pattern of pain that I didn’t know how to get out of. The guy I lived with turned out to be an alcoholic. I spent three years of my life watching him get worse. I knew from the moment I entered that relationship it was not the right choice, but I settled because I thought this is what I deserve. I don’t deserve to be with a man who loves the Lord. I don’t deserve to be with a man that will treat me right. I don’t deserve to be with a man that will love me well.
Then Sunday happened. One Sunday I went to church and I remember the pastor saying “just because you’ve made bad decisions doesn’t mean you have to keep making them.” My heart was racing and I knew. I knew I didn’t have to keep making bad decisions. I knew I didn’t have to settle. I knew I didn’t have to clean myself up or get my act together for God to love me. I knew deep down that God never intended for me to go through this pain. I knew that God had something better in store for me, but I had to make the decision to trust Him and let go and learn how to let God restore the broken pieces of my soul.
Just because you’ve made bad decisions doesn’t mean you have to keep making them.
When I made the choice to end that relationship, I decided to pursue another one. One that I had never really pursued, but always felt like there was something more to it. I decided to pursue God. Not in a way that I had as a child or a youth. I didn’t want to go to a God that I had head knowledge about or just go to God because that was the religion I inherited. I wanted to know God and feel Him move. I came to him broken, dirty, ashamed, and hurting. Yet, even in that state I came to Him. I spent every moment in prayer, I read my bible every day, and I surrounded myself with worship music. I knew that this whole time I was tuning God out, He was sweetly calling my name. I was ready for him to reveal himself to me in a way he never had before. I learned that God’s love is unconditional and so sweet.
Daily I felt God releasing me from some bondage of my past. A burden that I had let weigh me down. I gave it all to him and He gladly took it from me and filled me with a hope I had never experienced before. While God was working on my heart, I still struggled to see myself as someone who was worthy of God’s love. I remember I would sit there praying and longing to be a woman of God. I would pray and pray and pray “I just want to be a woman of God.” I was waiting for this huge shift and dramatic feeling, but one day I heard God whisper to my heart, “Angela, you ARE a woman of God.”
During this journey, I joined a new church. I wanted to be in a community of people that loved the Lord and would also love me. I wanted to be encouraged and held accountable. In order to create those real lasting friendships that I so desired, I knew I had to be honest. I had to be raw and vulnerable and that was scary. When I kept thinking about all the reasons I was scared to share my story, God told me “it’s not about you.” Boy, was that humbling. I was so nervous to share my past because of what other people would think of ME. I didn’t think about the person that needed to hear my story or how the grace of God could be revealed through my story. So, I shared my story in that coffee shop with my friend. She didn’t judge me or condemn me. I shared my story again and again. I discovered that the more I shared my story, the easier it got. The more I shared my story, the more proud I was of what God had brought me through. The more I shared my story, the less power the enemy had over it. I serve a God that heals, restores, and redeems. God took what the enemy meant for evil and He used it for His glory and my good.
The sweetest redemption for me was September 8, 2018. The day that I married my husband. He is a man who loves the Lord. He is a man that treats me right. He is a man that loves me well.
“There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me.
There’s no wall you won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me.”
You can find out more about Angela by checking out our TEAM DESTINY page!