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changed-my-life-headerBy Lizzie Smiley

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To be honest, I really hesitate to use the phrase “changed my life” to say what I need to say today. It’s become such an overused expression that can refer to anything from winning the Powerball, finding the perfect yoga pants, the invention of Triple Stuffed Oreos, or– like in my case– it can be a flat out encounter with God. We truly have no satisfactory phrase in the English language to really say that something that just… transformed everything. So that being said—here it is, no cliché intended:

I was raised in a home that attended a church, but wasn’t “Christian” in the sense of being bible-believing, Christ-following, God-worshippers. Aside from our one hour social/spiritual church attendance every Sunday and grace before the evening meal, we lived a moral but secular lifestyle. By the time I arrived at Purdue University in August of 2000 when I made my first evangelical friends, my experiences at home and in society had, in fact, given me a very negative opinion of people who identified themselves as “Christians.” They appeared ignorant, outdated, and sometimes hostilely insensitive to people different from themselves. I was not impressed. I always believed that there was a greater power or enlightened existence available to me, but I wouldn’t have called it “Jesus” and I wasn’t ready to pursue it.

Throughout the years of my early adulthood, the Lord drew my heart consistently and lovingly. I believe now He was trying to get my attention as soon as possible to prevent a lot of heartache. (I ignored Him and got the heartache… You see, when you don’t keep your eyes fixed on a lighthouse, the storm can carry you anywhere.) I was too stubborn to heed the call, worried that if I got serious about pursuing God my lifestyle would have to change, and really didn’t want to face the reality that I would have to change. The tragedy is— I was right— change was exactly what I needed.

Years went by—a decade actually— and I tumbled through destructive behaviors and relationships. I aimlessly fell for anything because I believed in nothing. God is so faithful, though, and He knew He would win me eventually, even if it had to be the hard way.

2015-06-07 22.39.31The biggest idol in my life had become my marriage. From early childhood I had pinned the titles of “wife” and “mother” directly on my heart, holding them as my most precious dreams. At the end of my rebellion, it was the threat of losing them both that broke me. So as my marriage all but ended, I came crashing to my knees and surrendered my life to Christ. Do you remember your moment of surrender? Mine was anything but “beautiful.” It was a tearful, painful, shattered oblivion.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. 

But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” -John 12:24

 

At first nothing changed except that God had my undivided attention. I became very still.

Then He began bringing the right people across my path. People who loved Him that I could relate to and receive from. (This has become my prayer for every unbeliever! That He would bring such people across their paths!) It gave the faith SUCH credibility. But still nothing in the natural changed.

The major transformation did not happen until I let God begin healing my heart.

We all have wounds that we’ve carried since the earliest years of our lives. Even when we have a wonderful childhood with loving parents, there are areas of our hearts that get pierced. Until we learn from God Himself how to bring these hurts to His throne AND we choose to let Him have them—they can only become infected. This is where issues like a bitter heart, hatred, rage, lack of trust or commitment, depression, fear, and so many more begin. As we grow up, more wounds occur, but they are amplified and compounded by the first wounds that never properly healed. See how we can become such a mess?

So many Christians receive Christ, start studying God’s word, and try to live up to it– failing to ever get out of their cycles of sin and pain. They come to believe “it’s just the way it is” and “that’s why there’s grace.” To a small degree that’s true— we’re never going to be perfect, but the more we do the work to heal, the easier it becomes to let God’s Word and His ways manifest through us. It sounds counter-intuitive to call it work, since God does the healing, but after you’ve spent decades of life concealing, medicating, denying, and/or running from your pain– opening it up and giving it God is a feat. Period.

This was the “Work” that changed everything for me. It’s what God used to set me free. It’s how I’m able to walk in faith and abundance, with healthy relationships and a powerful purpose. This kind of work is so hard. In fact, no joke—it’s impossible without God. I personally needed professional help, although God can certainly bring you through it one-on-one. (my family used the ministry Restoring Relationships! We highly recommend them!) But the journey through your own heart is so worth it. The result IS the abundant life. The effort IS working out your faith in fear and trembling.

So listen, if you’ve been a Christian for a while now and you feel a bit disenchanted with the way your life turned out, I can basically guarantee you this is the work you need to do. And actually—it’s GREAT news! It means that there is more for you. It means there’s a bright future and a great hope. It means God’s not finished with you yet.

I would so love to hear your thoughts and feedback. And always, always, always— I am here to pray and believe with you. DEFINITELY let me know if you decide to check out Restoring Relationships—I’d be honored to coach and pray you through the process.

Lizzie Smiley | CreateAPeacefulHome.com

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