It was a Tuesday night, five of us sitting around a backyard, sipping wine or tea, talking about practical, God-driven conversations; the kind you should long for, the kind you pray to have; but my mind couldn’t be further away.
I was distracted by an emotional tornado turning through my heart. I could hear its’ winds sing, “you don’t know them” and “they don’t truly know you.” Lies that were twitching the heels of my feet to get up and run. I wanted to so badly run.
This group of girls were amazing, passionate, and loving souls, but at that moment I was new to their life, and them to mine. I was fighting a spiritual battle of newness, un-comfortability, and the drive to be present. It all seemed like so much work. But, what kept me there was the fear of disapproval. I had to show them that I was a good Christian girl, that I was here for them. I had to wear the front so that I could keep hiding in my distress.
God met me
It’s funny, how God knows exactly what you need when you need it. It’s powerful and beautiful. And I never feel more love than when I see God shaping me to be more like Him. You see, God knew that I needed to realize that there was a difference between a friendship in Christ, and the one I was too familiar with from my past- the one shaped around alcohol, or sex, or gossip. The one that fleeted and weathered on a day to day basis. The one that left me to rot in my sin, and then kept feeding me more.
I was damaged from that life. But in that moment, on a Tuesday night, God reminded me I was free from that. The girl to my right leaned over nonchalantly and gently asked me, “so, what’s your story?”
This might sound like a simple, Christian question. But it isn’t. Because at that time in my life I had never fully shared my testimony. No one had ever asked.
Philippians 1:27 (ESV) Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;The tornado in my heart violently stopped, the clouds blocking my thoughts cleared, and my pace erupted at a question that I had never thought of. I looked at this beautiful soul and I saw her. I could see the genuine desire to know me. To see me. To hear what has made me who I am. And to hear about the work God did in my life. I started to laugh, because in one sentence I felt the chains of past relationships break; and felt the life of a new one spark. With that one question I felt loved, welcomed, and known. God knew I needed someone to ask me that.
Learning to love
Having this new-found invitation into understanding true fellowship, I began to break down the inner barrier I had been holding up for so long. God so kindly jump started this journey into discovering what being a part of His kingdom looked like- meaning, how to love others from the deepest parts of our being, to loving ourselves because of Him.
That Tuesday night turned into a beautiful open door to each other’s pasts. We talked about the pains and grief we had experienced but also the overcoming and redeeming aspect of it all. My heart went from scared of fitting in, to leaping over boundaries that didn’t exist. I wanted to know them by the means of raw, humanity to tell them I understand, and I love you. And they could do that to me.For once in my life I looked around a group of women and was able to desire their company in the truest way possible. To welcome them in to my dark past knowing that they have one too- but we are all forgiven.
You see, God was shaping me in the best way He knew how. He knew what I needed and provided the opportunity. He knew what my struggle was and threw me right in the middle of it- knowing that it is often through the un-comfortable that we are made stronger.When I think about this lesson I am reminded of John 16: 33 (ESV) “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”The tornado I allowed in my heart was a worldly one. It was the doubt, shame, and insignificance that the world for so long titled me. God showed up on that night and forced me to face the choice of Him and the world. He so graciously willed me to Him. He was present in the eyes of those girls around me, and through their faith, reached me. A true witness to the power of His kingdom, His grace, and His unconditional love.
Amy Hornbuckle is a writer full time, wife to Dillon, part time Children’s Director at her church, and is passionately pursuing the word and walk of God. Her online ministry is designed to help you do the same by providing biblical resources and content. Get her 5 day free devotional about what it looks like to walk in God, here.Outside of the ministry she is an adventure junkie who loves to take her dog hiking, camping, trail running, paddle boarding, essentially anything outside and you can find her there!