You might be curious why I started a blog, and why it’s called “by His grace”. The short answer is that I am what I am because of the grace of God. The longer answer is that over the past months I’ve been feeling led and empowered to share my testimony and spiritual journey with others. God has done and is doing so much incredible stuff in my life, and I want to share it with you in the most raw and open way I can- through writing. It’s through writing that I’m best able to share myself with others and express what’s on my heart. God’s grace and love are amazing and I pray that this blog serves to glorify Him.
For you to fully understand how much God’s grace has impacted my life, I need to share a bit about what my life before Christ looked like. This blog post is my story of grace.
I grew up in the church. I knew who God was and I had heard the gospel plan hundreds of times- yet, I wasn’t satisfied. There was so much more exciting stuff to discover in the world that church didn’t offer. What began with restless curiosity gradually turned into full-blown rebellion and a hatred for the church. I denied Christ many times in my efforts to identity as something other than a “good little church girl”.
I got pretty heavily involved in the party scene in high school- which included drinking and drugs. I was binge drinking nearly every weekend, and at one point almost entirely stopped attending church. I got into a relationship with a drug dealer, and began fooling around carelessly with drugs. I still remember one night in particular where I was at a big rave and decided to buy hard drugs off of a complete stranger. I mixed these drugs with hard liquor…the combination of which could have killed me. Several people were hospitalized that night from the same combination. I still get emotional when I think about how God seriously must have had Angels watching over me that night.
Throughout high school I developed a severe eating disorder that got worse with time. My distorted self image, idolization of skinny celebrities, and obsession with wanting to weigh under a hundred pounds led to me becoming so unnaturally thin that my ribs were protruding and I was constantly weak and tired. No matter how much I weighed, I still always genuinely felt like I looked fat.
I constantly craved attention from males, and this led to me making a series of bad dating decisions. One relationship that I was in for over a year ended up becoming abusive- and I was totally in denial about it. Some of my friends and people who cared about me tried to open my eyes and get me out of it. I pushed them further away, convinced that they didn’t have my best interests at heart.
During grade 12, I started becoming restless with this new lifestyle I’d chosen. I started realizing that I wasn’t actually happy. I felt like I was chained in a prison cell that I’d created for myself. I became clinically depressed. I had trouble dragging myself out of bed each morning, felt hatred towards myself, pushed away everyone close to me, and eventually had thoughts about how much better things would be if I wasn’t alive anymore. One night when I was feeling especially low, I sat in bed with a bottle of pills in my hand and contemplated taking them. To this day, I’m not entirely sure what stopped me.
The summer after high school grad I knew that something needed to change. For many months before God had stopped speaking to me and I felt more isolated and alone than ever. After grad, God in his mercy started speaking to me again. It took months before I finally answered His call, but in October 2011 at an alter call in church I was finally able to bow my knees before Christ and surrender my brokenness to Him. I can’t even describe the feeling of finally having the door to my “jail cell” opened and my shackles unchained. My heart was so full. God’s grace had redeemed me.
I need to share some incredible statistics in order for you to fully understand the depth of God’s grace and mercy in my life.
- Alcohol: People assume that to be an alcoholic you have to be someone who drinks every day, but that isn’t the true definition. Alcoholism is defined as increased tolerance, habitual drinking, and/or binge drinking 4 or more drinks on 5 or more of the last 30 days. By that definition, I had already developed some alcoholic tendencies by grade 11.
- Drugs: 80% of people who start with alcohol and drugs while they are teens will continue this habit into adulthood and continue to increase risk of addition. The chances of becoming severely ill or dying while taking hard drugs with hard liquor increase dramatically. This combination severely dehydrates, increases risk of a brain bleed, stresses your heart, and causes liver toxicity.
- Eating disorders: every hour one person in Canada dies from an eating disorder; up to 50% of women with eating disorders end up dying from long-term effects of the eating disorder on their body.
- Depression: Depression affects 1/10 Canadians. Of those, only about 3/10 will seek help and rehabilitate. Over 80% of individuals who die by suicide are diagnosed as clinically depressed.
- Abuse cycle: Most women will never break out of the cycle of abusive relationships and will continue to enter into abusive relationships. On average, a woman will attempt to leave an abusive relationship 8 times unsuccessfully. 75% of women in abusive relationships are hospitalized at some point.
I’m not sure how to even follow those statistics with any words. All I can say is that God is bigger than any statistics. The fact that He can forgive, heal, and redeem that type of brokenness is nothing short of a miracle.
By God’s grace I am alive…By God’s grace I am forgiven…By God’s grace I am redeemed…By God’s grace I have purpose…By God’s grace I have peace…By God’s grace I am filled with joy…By God’s grace I am FREE.
The best part is that this isn’t where my story ends. Salvation is only the beginning, and the rest is a lifelong journey of pursuing to love and become more like Jesus. The part that often astounds me the most is that God, out of his crazy love for me, even allowed my past to be used for something beautiful now. I get to work with broken teens and share my testimony with them. God continues to pour His love and grace into me, and through me into them. How crazy is that? He really does create beauty out of ashes. Life with Jesus is beautiful. Definitely not easy, but beautiful.
If you have something in your life that you think is beyond forgiveness, or if you believe your brokenness is beyond mending, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. I’m living proof of the power of God’s grace. God’s grace is free and undeserved, and so much bigger than we can even grasp. I hope you get to experience the fullness of God’s grace the way I did.
“I am what I am by the grace of God alone!” 1 Corinthians 15:10
6 Comments Add yours
A life changed …. always worth sharing. Thanks for putting it out there and sharing transparently.
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your story. Indeed, God’s amazing grace is far greater than ALL our sin! I believe God has a wonderful plan for your life, using you as His channel to bring hope & healing to many broken hearts. May our Lord, “according to the riches of his glory grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being”. (Col. 3:16 ESV)
CORRECTION: The Scripture quotation was taken from Eph. 3:16 ESV
Transformed by God’s amazing grace- thankful with you for answered prayer.
Dear Jen, “Gracious is our LORD, and righteous; yes, our GOD is merciful.” Ps. 116:5 Psalm 116 – Thankfulness for the Deliverance out of great Peril. We thank GOD for his Grace in your life. May HE make you a “Vessel of Mercy and Love” and bless you ! Love & Prayers, Oma & Opa
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our GOD is merciful. Ps. 116:5 Psalm 116 – “Thanksgiving for the Deliverance from great Peril” We thank GOD for his Grace in your life! May HE make you a “Vessel of Mercy and Love”! Love & Prayers, Oma & Opa