There was a moment when I had to face my past. I came face to face with all the mistakes I had made, all the hurts I had caused…All the things I had done wrong. It was a few days after my 21st birthday. I encountered God authentically and quietly for the first time in my life. It was just him and me on my couch without all the fanfare of retreats, or camps, or passionate sermons. There was no epic high–or the resulting crash. Just an honest look. There’s a verse in Scripture that talks about the kindness of God leading us to repentance. I experienced, lived and breathed that here. He looked at me and said, “this is me, Sarah. This is my work in you. Not your works or your hands or your effort. Just me. Let me do this in you.”
So I wrote it all out. Every time I had betrayed the one I love, every stolen moment, every time I craved something else and said, “your love isn’t good enough.” It was all there–stacked against me.
And when it was over, when the tears had quieted, I turned to my fiance–I held up the broken words to him. I asked him if he wanted to read these things because in the moments written on these pages I had betrayed him too. I had cut him deeply–taken a knife to his heart and spat in the face of his love for me. Some of these moments he knew about. Some he didn’t. And here they all were, written down.
It was a moment of confession and deep intimacy–and I was scared that he would see me for what I really was. He looked at me, and he looked at the offering in my hands and he said, “I don’t need to see that.” At the time I remember this immense feeling of relief that my darkest moments could stay a little less visible.
Now I see it as freedom. He loved me and he saw me for who I am–not what I had done. He stood by me in these moments and he didn’t call me anything less than beloved. He had brought me into his heart four…five…six years before, and no one could remove me–not even me. He held me when I didn’t want to be held. Protected me when I resented him. And through all of this strove to show me my value to him. He spoke love over me. He said I mattered to him.
And in the moments of darkness when I’m fighting for breath, he stays.
In many ways I am still fighting him. I don’t believe that I am enough. I don’t believe that no matter what he will stay with me. Because why would he? And so I wrestle through the darkness to find this light. To believe both my husband and my God when they say I am worthy and loved. Because in some ways I “get” I was worth dying for–but I don’t believe that I’m worth staying for. Does that make sense?
And in almost every way imaginable Doug shows me over and over again that I am worth staying for. He stands by my side when I’m facing past hurts and he’s bearing the brunt of it. And he fails me, sweet baby Jesus, he fails. We can talk about my birthday last year, or Christmas this year. We can talk about the broken promises and the times he was “a human being having a human moment,” as my dear friend likes to describe our humanity. But he stays standing beside me, fighting with me and for me and learning and trying to find the best way to love me. And this to me, more than any other thing in my life has been the gospel. Sermons are great, retreats can be useful. But it takes the hands and feet of Jesus to show a broken girl how beautiful and loved she is just because he says so.
We get to be the hands and feet of Christ to a sad and hurting world, and this is a glimpse of what can happen when we are walking that well. We get to call broken things healed. Dead things alive. Hopeless things full of hope. We get to light up the darkness. We are the beacon in this fallen broken world–a beacon of hope and light and love.
We got married six months after this. It will be ten years on June 19th–a day famous in Texas for a different reason. But special to us because it was the day I stood before my husband for the first time, feeling loved and chosen. This was the beginning of walking in that new identity.