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.