In this blog post I wanted to share a small part of my testimony, surrendering to God when I wasn’t sure I could trust Him. I’ve been especially thankful lately for how He’s transformed me by His grace; how He’s changed me since I left the cult and especially the past couple of years. It was two years ago that I started reading my Bible again on a pretty daily basis – a habit I’ve mostly kept up since. Prior to that it had been years since I’d been in a regular reading plan. Yes, years plural. The last time would have been soon before I left the cult. Since I escaped I started slowly distancing myself from God up until just before moving to Austin (2018).
I grew up in Pennsylvania and couldn’t wait to leave – I was running from my trauma, my limitations, and expectations placed on me. I moved away in 2017, and I thought DC would be the place to be, a big diverse city full of ambition where the sky was the limit. I was so eager to take control of my life that I didn’t stop to think if I should seek God’s guidance. My life was busy, fake, and full of vain ambition. I was a people pleaser more than a God pleaser and I thought I was content being lord of my own life. I thought I could take control of my life but soon my idols and sin clouded my judgment and so my anxiety, pornography addiction, spending habits, and desire for approval led my actions. Instead of past sins done against me defining me, I was being defined by my own sins and it was just as terrifying.
1 Timothy 5:6 “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.”
I finally ended up with a choice, I needed to be fully devoted to God and surrender all my brokenness to him, or I could continue to wallow in my own s**t. I thought I could do what I wanted while having Christianity as a ticket to heaven but there wasn’t a halfway point between being a Christian and having the life I wanted. Despite realizing this, I was so hurt by the idea of god I was presented as a child. The idea of god I was the most familiar with was someone who only loved the most perfect people, a god who constantly played tricks on you, a god who was abusive and who never kept his promises. Someone who always took and never gave, someone who always judged and condemned, and would only be there for you in times of need if you were good enough. I didn’t want that god.
1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
I knew God was different than that. I knew deep down that the idea of god I thought I knew was a fabrication from misguided pastors at best, and malicious religious leaders at worst. Deep down I knew God was someone different because I’d seen other Christians who seemed to have a healthy relationship with God. People who really knew their Bible, and seemed to show genuine ‘fruit of the spirit’, people who loved others with a Jesus kind of love. People who had peace in their lives and grace for others. I wanted that…but it felt so far away. I’d thought that wasn’t for me – could I really open up to God the way I’d opened up to a toxic cult all my childhood?
Psalm 32:10 “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.”
I rededicated my life to Christ in April of 2018. I didn’t know what I was doing or who He really was. I wanted to get to know Him for myself. That’s when I started regularly praying and reading my Bible each day. It wasn’t much, but what God was doing in my life through those moments spent getting to know Him was something powerful. Shortly after, in July of 2018 I moved to Austin, Texas where my reliance on God by necessity grew me closer to Him (The real Him).
Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”
If you are in a place of doubt, I encourage you to give God a chance. It’s been two years since that re-dedication of my heart and still I sometimes have doubts. I’ll read some scriptures and misunderstand or disagree and have to sit in that, pray about it, talk about it… It’s okay to have doubts, but God is still good. I’m so glad I know that now. I’ve seen His good nature play out in my life despite all my trauma, sin, struggles and anxiety – God is still good. I am no longer defined by my past or my sin, but by God. I’m not saying I never struggle, but I’m saying God is a better Lord of my life than I could ever be. I didn’t think God was good before, but that’s because the construct of God I thought I knew was not God at all.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
P.S. The illustration used for this blog post is taken from an illustration from my book “Where the Willow Weeps” where I go in depth about my story.