This all started when I hit a breaking point: where every terrible thing that could happen, did. My longtime boyfriend and I broke up. I had been having residual feelings for another man for about a year, and I consistently lied to my boyfriend about it, which spurred the demise of our relationship. I destroyed my ankle during a soccer game, so I was completely incapacitated—and I didn’t have health insur- ance. I realized I did not want to continue on with my grad program after preparing for four years in undergrad for this career. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life—twenty-three and not a single idea.
I felt alone and abandoned and unworthy of anyone’s love. I think I would say that in this time of turmoil, the process of being stirred by God was quite sudden. But looking back, God was planting a seed, and there were so many oppor- tunities that presented themselves when He was reaching out to me. The terrible things that I experienced, that I did, or that just occurred, all happened for a reason. My injury led me to begin physical therapy to rehabilitate my ankle—and I found out I wanted to be a physical therapist. My broken relationship helped me realize that I need to depend on only one man in my life for unconditional love and support—and it’s not any earthly man.
It’s hard to explain how God stirred in me except to say that He did. I know He did—not through any person or church, but just with Him and me. A few months later, my mom invited me to come to a church with her, but at that moment it was really God rescuing me. At first, I had a hard time accepting God’s love. For months, I had felt this indescribable guilt in the deep- est parts of my soul. What kind of God loves a person who lied the way I did? How could I be forgiven for what I had done—for the pain I had caused another human being? I couldn’t accept God’s love for me. I felt ashamed. I felt terrible whenever I heard others talk about their guilt because it seemed like the things they had done were small compared to what I had done. I felt unworthy of anything; I felt that I deserved to be unhappy. I had made my bed, and I deserved to lie in it. I was longing to be happy with someone, anyone. When you experience darkness like that in your life, you feel like there is no power, no person, nothing that can save you from yourself. But when I began to open up to the possibility that God wanted to love me and forgive me, my life started to change.
I started feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, and I still do. Deep in my heart now, I feel so grateful, and that stays with me every minute of every day.
Right now I’m trying to understand Jesus more—who He was, what He said, what He did, and why He had to die. I told a friend the other day, “I feel like a God-stian—not so much a Christian—because I understand God but not Christ.” I’m trying to go back to the basicsof Christianity and my faith and get acclimated. When you don’t have a good understanding of the basics of Christianity, you feel like you’re just aimlessly wandering around without a map. I haven’t arrived, but I’m well on the journey with Him now.
Dana shares her story in Chapter 4 of Start Here. We’d love to hear your story too: share it here.