As an only child, my parents were two of my best friends. My dad was a businessman and traveled often, so when he was home I couldn’t get enough of him. Every night we would cuddle on the couch, or “scrunch” as we called it. He made me feel loved and protected.
One afternoon when I was eight I came home from school to an empty house in disarray. I learned that my dad had tried to commit suicide. As a little girl, I didn’t fully comprehend what was going on. I just saw him changing and it was unsettling.
When he came home from the hospital, he was different. Our relationship changed. I could tell he was hurting as he began looking for peace in religion. His searching led me to feel forced into something I wasn’t ready for.
When I was sixteen, he passed away from suicide. My thoughts about God changed from apathetic to angry. I thought that if God did exist, He couldn’t be good.
When I was nineteen, I quit college and moved to the city to waitress and chase whatever or whomever I could. I had no direction and I started to notice the lack of purpose in my life.
I wanted someone to love me, I wanted lasting and real friendships, and I wanted a purpose. I wanted my life to count and to have meaning.
I remember walking past a church and I had the thought that I should try it out. Although shocked by the thought, I did not pursue it. I didn’t start going to church, but I did start questioning God. I read the Bible because I knew He was the author and I started to talk to Him. I actually spoke out loud to what seemed like no one! I just did it because I wanted to know the truth and trusted that if God was real and if He was good that He would reveal Himself to me.
During this time, I started to fully comprehend how Jesus Christ was God and that He died so that I could live (John 3:16). I also began to realize what true love was. God had loved me so much even when I didn’t love Him back. He demonstrated His love to me by dying for me (Romans 5:8)! I had a hard time comprehending someone loving me without me doing something for them.
One night, I was at a party and I had the thought that I should leave because there was something more for me. I didn’t know what that thought meant, but I went home anyways and started talking to God. I told Him that I believed in Him and His Son Jesus Christ and that I wanted to love Him and needed help with my life because I didn’t like the person I had become. I asked Him to take away all of the shame I had from things I had done and told Him that I wanted to have a relationship with Him.
That was the beginning of my new life. Revelations 3:20 says “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in…” God became my friend that night and changed my life. Jesus gave me worth, purpose, and life. He became my Savior.
Soon after that, I got involved in a church and even went back to college.
After a few years, I began praying for the opportunity to help start a church one day and the Lord answered me! I was given the opportunity to start a church in Oklahoma with some of my closest friends.
Losing my dad to suicide taught me that my worth was not based on other people’s actions but only on the greatest act of love known: God giving up His only Son in order to have a relationship with me (John 3:16). That sacrifice is what gives me worth.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26