I was born to be a “Christian.” I spent five to seven days a week in church. I was a Sunday School teacher, and a worship leader. I went through Sunday School, Vacation Bible School – I think I could count with one hand the amount of times I missed a Sunday service growing up.
Church was a very restricting place for me. I often felt like I didn’t fit in. It was a mix of a culture, community, and not being able to be myself in this environment. I spent a lot of time thinking there was no space for me in the church – that I couldn’t just be myself.
When I went to college, it was the first time in my life that I was able to create my own identity. I wanted to fit in and my insecurity for wanting to be wanted kicked into high gear. I tried everything in my power to attach myself to things and people that made me feel more like myself, or at least the girl I thought I was.
I want to start by saying all of these things did not make me feel bad. In fact, I had tons of fun. I loved being someone who felt included and wanted, even if it meant that I sacrificed pieces of myself to do it. And in those moments, I felt all those things. I felt great – alive. They were probably the best feelings I had ever had.
The problem was that everything I did was associated with a feeling – fleeting, momentary. None of those feelings were rooted in anything. One night, my freshmen year of college, I laid in my bed realizing that I couldn’t hear God anymore. I didn’t acknowledge my conscious and it was the first time I came head-to-head with how empty I felt. I was complacent and wasn’t changing.
My “past” was a series of actions, activities, and decisions made prior to knowing the abundance, wholeness, goodness, and agape love that comes from a relationship with God. These actions may not be a part of my life with Jesus today. However, I have found that the feelings that initiated these decisions are still 100% in my present.
I’d like to call this my initial response.
This initial response is rooted in the ugliness that lives inside of me – things like rejection, anger, pride, insecurity. These are the “why” of the sins that we commit daily. Becoming a Christian does not mean I have conquered my demons. In fact, my initial response manifest in the exact same way it did prior to knowing Jesus. And over the years, it has ebbed and flowed into a new response. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel that ugliness, it just means that I know how to give it to Jesus.
I came into relationship with Jesus when I was 20 years old. Since the beginning of that relationship, those feelings, insecurities, and direct responses didn’t just magically disappear. In fact, I think that I have become hyperaware of these things as I grow more in my relationship with God. They become more obvious, more convicting, and more honest the closer I get to Jesus.
It is hard to be myself without acknowledging who God is to me. I love Jesus. I love Jesus because He chose to come to the earth, live a blameless and sinless life, and die as a perfect sacrifice so that I could be made right with God. His sacrifice was meant so that I could now live freely, abundantly, and without fear knowing that what I have done, am doing, and will do are now covered by the sacrifice of God. God is love. He loved ALL mankind to give himself up so that we could ALL have access to this freedom.
The most important part of my relentless journey has been choosing to accept God’s grace daily. I will never wake up any day of my life and just nail it on my own. In fact, without God, I wouldn’t know who I really am. Yet instead of choosing to be hard on myself, when I am not a good human, when I filled with anger and pride, when I am rejected and chosen second – I have to make a choice to accept God’s goodness is bigger than what I am not.
I am a judgemental, prideful, unforgiving, know-it-all by nature. I think very highly of myself. I lie and say things to try to fit in – I often assume the worst of others because I want to feel better about myself.
This is the reality about people who love Jesus. We feel like broken, dark, and miserable people, pretty much every single day. Yet, because of who Jesus is – we are able to look to the nature of God and his love for humanity as our hope and our truth. God is always for us, he sees the best in us, and pulls it out. He asks us to live freely out of His love.
The belief of this truth is the only way I am a liberated, free, and powerful Rachel Varkey.