Unconditional love has always been something I have struggled to understand. How could anyone love someone without limits or conditions?
To be honest, up until two years ago when I rededicated my life to Christ, I had never felt worthy of any sort of love, let alone the unconditional love of God. This is my story of how the Lord took my hopeless, broken heart and showed me the greatest love I have ever known.
Growing up, I was always an over-achiever; wanting to please my parents by getting good grades, winning awards and contests and just being the “good girl” in general. I was fearful of disappointing anyone, especially my parents. I was always on the look-out for how I could make someone’s life or job a bit easier.
I was taught at a young age about the love of Jesus and thought that if I just kept being the good girl and did what I was told, that God would be pleased and keep loving me. My family went to church every Sunday and we would also travel around to churches across the province, singing as a family of six. We looked like the perfect family from the outside and, in my mind, from the inside too.
Until everything changed. I was sixteen when infidelity had found its way into my parent’s marriage and my family was torn apart. My mother had tried to keep a brave face for us kids, but depression got the best of her and she spent many days and nights in bed, lights out and door locked. I felt helpless. I couldn’t fix my family with my good grades and good behaviour. I started wondering what the point was of being a good Christian girl. My family’s troubles were the talk of my small town and I couldn’t wait to get out of there and start over somewhere else.
I went off to university and started drinking and experimenting with other activities that most twenty-somethings experiment with. I suffered from crippling anxiety and depression during those years, but bandaged it with partying and bad relationships. My grades slipped and I didn’t really care. My only escape was through theatre. I finally felt seen. People would literally applaud the good job I had done.
I moved to Toronto after university and went to a performing arts school. I was sure that it was going to make me happy and finally make all of my dreams come true. Shocker, it didn’t. To make matters worse, I ended up in a four-year abusive relationship that eventually lead me to have a mental breakdown. I ended up moving back home to the Maritimes a totally broken and lost person. My self worth had been beaten down to nothing and I had slipped back into a deep depression. I needed a miracle. Then I found Deep Water Church.
I started going to Deep Water by myself. I ended up leaving a total mess but also feeling like a weight had been lifted off of my soul. It felt amazing to leave everything at His feet and fully surrender myself to Jesus. It had been a while since I had really talked to Him from my heart, but when I did, He accepted me with open arms, no questions asked.
I started reading my bible and asking God for purpose and wisdom; I still had one foot in the world and one foot in eternity and wasn’t sure how to navigate myself through it. I knew I would lose friendships as well as my own dreams and desires, and I was nervous as to how that would affect my future.
He began to show me that He didn’t care about my accomplishments or my past, and that I could start a whole new life with Him. He would take care of the details; all He wanted was my heart. So, I decided to go all in. I decided to get baptized and to fully give my life to Jesus. It was the best decision of my life. He slowly started killing off sin in my life and one by one He would show me how certain behaviours, habits or people were putting up walls between Him and me.
I lost many friendships but also gained some new beautiful Christ-centered ones too. I turned down many acting auditions but gained a spot on the worship team, where I was able to use my God given gifts. Anything I had “lost” from my worldly life, He replaced with something much more fulfilling and purposeful.
I was finally living a life centered in Christ. A life that didn’t require any sort of achievements or good works to feel loved. I finally understood that nothing I could do, good or bad, could separate me from the love of Jesus. THIS is unconditional love, and only in His love am I truly well.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39