I have never met my biological father. He left when I was an infant, and never returned to our lives. The only picture I've seen of him is in one of my mom's high school yearbooks. He could literally walk up to me today, and I wouldn't know it was him.
Mom remarried when I was 3, and her husband has been my dad since that time. I don't remember life before him. He adopted me and raised me as his own. I love and respect him with all of my heart. He's been a good father. But I was haunted by guilt. I was ashamed that my biological father didn't love me enough to have a relationship with me. I felt there must be something horribly wrong with me. Ever since I can remember, I've knocked myself out to please people. I kept thinking that if I could just somehow be good enough, my biological father would come back and love me.
I worked hard to be the star student. The golden child. The parent-pleaser. Respectful and responsible. As perfect as I could possibly be. Yet it still wasn't good enough.
Fast forward to high school. Striving for perfection left me empty inside. Although I knew my parents loved me, I was afraid their love was conditioned upon my performance. (Pressure I, not they, put on me.) I thought I had to make all the right choices, be the right girl. On the outside, I was confident to the point of being arrogant.
On the inside, the cry of my heart was "Won't someone please love me?"
That gigantic need drove me to many desperate places. To many inappropriate relationships. To horrible, disastrous choices. Despite the scholarships and accolades...despite the best performances I could give...I was constantly looking for someone to love me. When I was 19, I lost my grandfather & my best friend within 3 months of each other. I was devastated. I had a deep, cavernous void in my life, and I could only think to fill it with other relationships. In trying to use others to fill the vacuum, I found that I was the one being consumed. I was still empty, and I felt like I was vanishing before my very eyes.
I didn't grow up in a Christian home. Although my parents were both raised in church, they both turned away from all things Christian before I was born. I remember going through a period of attending church sporadically, but it didn't last long. I attended church only when I visited my grandparents. I went to Vacation Bible School a couple of times with my cousins. Yet I gave little, if any, thought to Jesus.
I began to curse God. If there was a God (which I wasn't so sure of), I certainly didn't want any part of Him. I shudder to think about the things I said about Him. It's a wonder He didn't strike me dead on the spot.
Then I met my husband, R. I later found out He was a Christian, though he had strayed. I've already shared the story of our courtship. We needed a church to get married in, so we started attending one. For the first time in my adult life, I admitted there was a loving God. I thought that was salvation. After we married, we moved to another church. I discovered that there was more to salvation than believing in God. I thought I made that step, and would be assured of my Heavenly home.
Four years later, during a Beth Moore Bible study, I read the story of David and Jonathan. I was in tears as I read how Jonathan, the prince, took off his beautiful robes and exchanged them with David, the shepherd boy. The prince took on the filthy, smelly, disgusting clothes of the shepherd boy. It hit me...Jesus did that for me. He took all that smut and ick in my life, and He put it on to give me a pure robe! Sitting on my bed, I genuinely gave my heart to Christ that night. And all the guilt and shame, the bad choices, the emptiness...they were all gone! I didn't have to beg anyone to love me anymore. Jesus filled that hole with Himself...and the earthly relationships provide the overflow.
Every now & again, Satan tries to remind me that I'm not worthy of God. This, I already know! Every time I enter a church, I'm amazed that the building doesn't fall down around me! But I take comfort in these verses penned by Paul...for I could have written them myself.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
~1 Tim. 1:12 - 17 (NIV)