I first published this post on December 10, 2009.
To the members of my church home, St. James UMC, thanks for loving me and changing me.
I was 20 years old. I had one leg in religion, and the other in rebellion. And I wondered why I kept falling.
I was a prisoner. I was miserable. I had seen glimpses of God’s glory… big, fat, mind numbing glimpses. But I was more interested in my own glory. By the time I started realizing the mess I was in, shame flooded over every inch of my being. It paralyzed me. My shame felt even bigger than the cross, and I wondered whether I had gone too far for even His wide arms of mercy.
God began to change my life at a rapid pace. It took a few years, but it was clear He was picking me straight up out of my circumstances and setting me back down in the path of His will. I was speechless. He was so GOOD! Somehow, that made me feel more ashamed.
By the time I married Brad, who was in the ministry, it felt laughable. In fact, we did laugh. I laughed with all of my college friends, saying, “Can you believe I would be a minister’s wife? I might be the worst one ever.”
And I was. I knew it. I was too self-conscious to be thoughtful, and too needy to see needs. God had surely picked me up out of my rot, but I was still accustomed to the slums. I felt out of place in all of the purity. When I think back to those days, I wonder how horrid I must have seemed. My smiles were all so tense, my speech so reserved, my clothes all so tight!!!!
I wonder how the church must have seen me. I would not have liked me. And what do you DO if your church staff is married to someone horrid?
I’ll tell you what they SHOULD do. I’ll tell you what our church did for me. It was a miracle.
They loved me. Brad loved me, and the church reached out to me. Instead of scolding me for missing Bible studies, they invited us to dinner. Instead of noticing my attire, they noticed opportunities to send notes, and small gifts, and sweet hellos. Instead of seeing me, they saw who God would make me.
And something amazing happened. I believed in God’s love.
I believed God was loving on me through His people. And it rocked my worldview. I had always seen God as a God of judgment, wrath, justice, jealousy, and righteous anger. But what I saw now was His mercy and love were even greater than I’d imagined. He was still a God of justice… only He had turned justice up-side down through the cross – so much so that He could pour out grace on someone as shame-ridden as me! And He could change even my hardened heart.
I’m telling you, there is no better cure for the bad minister’s wife than to love on them. Many years later, I am here to tell you that it changed me – and is still changing me today. I can’t get enough of the Love I tasted so clearly through our church… only now, I know to go straight to the Source! And I’m starting to learn how to give that same love away. It is a sweet process. Jesus is so sweet, and I love how He uses us — His brothers and sisters — to pass along His blessings!