I hit a rebellious streak in high school.
Oh, not completely, outwardly rebellious. Just trying to live two ways.
I wanted good grades and leadership positions and positive friendships and esteem from my elders. I also wanted to be loved and seen as beautiful and cool and worldly wise by my peers.
It was hard to keep up both. I would feel elated while in a new relationship where someone valued me, but then I would have to hide that relationship from my parents.
I loved being president of our FFA chapter, but then would do foolish things with my companions at the fair.
During this season, I had a conversation with my friend J that I think of often. It was actually a turning point in my life. We were driving in a car around a right angled bend in the road on a blustery day. Turmoil must have been festering in my heart over who I was and what J and I were regularly about, and I spewed out my struggle:
I told her I'd been thinking that there probably wasn't a God.
That's all I said. Twenty-three years later and I still think about it.
My statement catapulted me into a sphere I never would have imagined going. Because saying it out loud forced me to reckon with my fraudulent choices and behavior. I instinctively knew I couldn't keep living two ways.
The only way to find stability was to choose God or no God. I tried to choose no God. But I couldn't. Once those words left my mouth I knew there was no way I could believe it, and no way I could live it.
I knew I'd betrayed my Creator and my Savior and I was haunted.
God met me in the haunting. He met me in my desire for love and acceptance. He patiently and mercifully wooed me to Himself.
I used to wonder what my life would have been like if I'd determined to live and believe my statement to J. I know it would look vastly different and most likely very dark.
Today I wonder where I'd be if I hadn't ever said that God didn't exist. Would I be trying to live a double life still? Would I be living in a constant state of guilt and turmoil I wasn't meant to bear? Maybe this sort of life would be darker and uglier than life without God at all.
My statement became a gift to me. It clarified my choices and ultimately brought me to a sincere relationship with Jesus.
Was Peter's betrayal also a gift? Had he not betrayed Jesus those three times as Jesus was standing trial, would Peter have known himself and known his true beliefs about Jesus? Would he have become the Rock of the church, the leader of the apostles, and defender of the faith without it?
Daily God is faithful to continue His work in growing me, meeting me, and showing me who He is and who I am. Daily I work to remain open to His leading, His teaching, and His mysterious ways.
It is a completely imperfect life, based on one perfect choice: Jesus, the Author and Embodiment of Perfection, Love, and Truth.
If you haven't made the choice to seek God and His ways in all of your life, why not today?