The day after our honeymoon, just eighteen months after I had accepted Christ as my personal Savior, I moved to Covenant Theological Seminary with my husband who planned to become a pastor. Outwardly, I bravely faced the new things God was calling me to; inwardly, I felt great tension between who I was becoming and who I used to be. By His grace and mercy, God was changing me from the inside out.
My mother passed away from breast cancer when I was fourteen. In my grief after her passing, my life turned upside down and inside out. I didn’t know how to allow myself to feel the pain and loss, so I numbed myself to the pain instead. If you can imagine any girl from your middle school or high school who bullied others, struggled with cutting, or engaged in substance abuse—I was like her. After graduation, I vowed I would never come back to my hometown—facing the shame and pain of my past was something I didn’t have the courage or strength to do on my own. I desired to forget the past—to untether myself from the person I had been.
When we left seminary in 2009, God called my husband to serve in a church just fourteen miles from my hometown. As a new Christian one of the first verses I had memorized was 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, (s)he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” When we moved back to serve in a church so close to my past life, I tried to let this verse fill every nook and cranny of my heart. It is easy to say 2 Corinthians 5:17 from memory—it is more difficult to live by these words and walk in them.
Slowly Unraveled is a personal faith journey, an invitation to see the gospel as a daily dance of putting off the old to embrace the new. “The old is gone and the new has come” is not a one-time event. In order to live freely in the present, we must go back and unravel the wounds, lies, and vows from our past. Without the gospel, it is impossible to untether ourselves from who we used to be. God, the Great Story Weaver, writes our stories to reflect His goodness and His glory to the world. We have to see our entire story inside the greater picture of God’s redemptive story—and by God’s grace, He supplies the freedom to help us unravel the shame and pain of our pasts—in the unraveling He makes us new.
Over the years I have learned that there are many layers of sin and shame tangled up in my heart that prevent me from living freely in the gospel in my everyday life. Once I overcome one layer of sin and shame, there is always another layer underneath. Only through the slow unraveling of my old self, I can embrace the new woman God is making me to be in Christ. Unraveling is a gospel waltz that requires intention, grace, and discipline—intention to be self-aware and turn away from old patterns, grace to believe and be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and discipline to obey and walk in the new life we are called to in the gospel.
“ . . . assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 21-24).
God is redeeming my entire story through slowly unraveling my sin and my shame. It has been difficult to be a pastor’s wife in a town so near to a place where I struggled for so long, but I believe God called me back here, so He could set me free from the unhealed places of sin and shame.
Unraveling is a daily dance in the gospel where moment by moment we die to the things that used to bind us and cling to the truth that God is making us new by His grace and through His Spirit. God is the author of the entire story—from eternity past to eternity future—and He is still changing things from the inside out.
About the Author:
Rachel Craddock is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (05’ B.A. Education) and a first-grade teacher at heart.
Rachel has been in the PCA since she became a Christian through the ministry of Campus Outreach during her time at Eastern Kentucky University. She has served in children’s, youth, and women’s ministries in the local churches she has attended over the years. Rachel currently serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at North Cincinnati Community Church, is a writer and speaker, and serves as CDM’s Regional Advisor of Women’s Ministry to Mid America. She writes on her blog and speaks at women’s events and retreats out of a desire to encourage women in a relatable way to practically apply the gospel to their daily lives.
Slowly Unraveled: Changed from the Inside Out was written from a heart that desires women to embrace the freedom of the gospel as well as encourage women to cling closely to a daily lifestyle of repentance, faith, and obedience. The gospel doesn’t require perfection, but it does require relationship with a God who unravels the old and makes us new in the redemptive blood of Jesus.
When not busy serving in her community as a substitute teacher in the public schools or parenting her four fun children Ezra (10), Asher (8), Caleb (7), and Lydia Jane (5), Rachel enjoys reading, dark roast coffee, trail running, traveling, date nights, and blogging. She and her family are members of North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio where her husband serves as lead pastor. You can connect with Rachel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or on her blog, rachelcraddock.com.