Hey everyone, Amanda here. It’s been a little over two months since Sharon and I started this blog and we realized I haven’t shared my story yet. As I share my life with you all, I hope my experiences encourage you to look past your mistakes, have grace for yourself, and focus on the present.
I’m not the typical ‘grew up in a Christian household and stayed a strong Christian my whole life’ kinda girl. I was a rebel. I think I was 14 when I chose to live solely for me and didn’t want anything to do with God or Christianity. I made decisions that I thought I’d never make and found myself in situations I warned other people to stay away from. I’ve come a long way to find grace for myself and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. If you knew me in high school or college, you probably wouldn’t recognize me today. And I don’t mean that physically, but the person that I’ve become.
Watch below to watch the full interview or continue reading for a short Q&A.
1. How does your lifestyle in your early twenties differ from your lifestyle today?
The things that I found value in and made me feel good no longer matter to me. They don’t have the same weight. For instance, I used to care a lot about being surrounded by friends all the time so I wouldn’t feel lonely. I constantly had to be talking to guys in order to feel valued and loved. Other people’s opinions and views of me mattered so much. Partying and drinking was my definition of having fun. I allowed others to define who I was, but I know that’s not the slightest bit true. And that took me a while to realize. But I’m now at a place where I know my value and worth comes only from the love of Christ. He’s taught me who I really am. The more I spend time with Him, the more he reminds me of how beautiful and loved I am. And nothing and no one can tell me otherwise. Who I am isn’t determined by the number of people that give me attention or how much fun I have when I go out drinking. Those things will eventually fade.
2. What does grace mean to you?
Learning to move forward without self-guilt or resentment. I’ve made a lot of bad choices in the past, but that’s in the past and I can’t allow them to hold me back.My past does not define me. That was a huge statement for me to accept, especially after I came back to the church and felt like the black sheep of the herd. No one talked about the same experiences I had. Sex was taboo, drinking was a huge sin, and living worldly was a cry for help. But God told me to stop thinking about who I was, gave me a supportive community at church, and started to show me how he wanted me to feel. He never made me feel judged or wrong. All he did was show me love that surpassed all understanding so that I could come to a point where I could accept me for me and know that I was made exactly the way I was supposed to be made and placed exactly where I was supposed to be placed. My past doesn’t scare God. He just wanted to give me a second chance. If it’s not beautiful, He’s not done writing that story yet.
3. How has God shown you love in the messy, imperfect moments? Fully accepted with no judgement.
The most tangible form of God giving me the best is in my husband, Josiah. Josiah is everything I have ever wanted, prayed for, and asked for in a husband (and more!). Our love story isn’t a fairytale, but it’s the most special and beautiful story to me. My past is messy, and Josiah knew that going into our relationship. Yet he still chose to love me with everything he could. He has never made me feel judged, never compared me to anyone, and always forgave me no matter how badly I messed up. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t remind me of how much he loves me. If I were given someone based off my past, I wouldn’t be given someone so wonderful and loving. But here I am, married to the most amazing man I know. Wow, God you are so real!
4. What hard decisions did you decide to make that turned your life around?
During this season of my life I was in a very toxic relationship. I was mentally and emotionally abused on the daily. I was living to be the ‘perfect girlfriend’ for my (at the time) boyfriend. I had to suppress a lot of who I was, I ended friendships because he didn’t like them, and sacrificed so much because I so desperately wanted that fairytale ending. I knew he was a huge factor of feeling bad about myself and constantly needing more to make myself feel loved and valued. It was on my heart for a while to end that relationship, but I always made excuses and reasons to stay in it. I lied to myself for the possibility of a hopeful future. But I finally got the guts to end the relationship; ever since I made that decision, I have never looked back and have seen the goodness of God in so many details of my life.
5. Do you have any regrets?
Of course I wish I didn’t do or experience some of the things I did, but if I didn’t go through everything I went through, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My life would look totally different. Everything that I chose to do led me here (good and bad). I love my life and how far I’ve come. I love that I can share my story to help those going through similar situations. I truly believe that God works everything for our good. So if I face hardships and make some messy decisions along the way, I know the outcome will be a better me and another story I’ll be able to share to encourage others.
6. If you could go back five years, what would you tell yourself?
Don’t care so much about what people or the world say is popular or right. I was so impressionable as a younger girl. It was so easy for me to believe I had to be, look, and act a certain way in order to be liked. I hate that I believed those lies. No matter who you are, where you’ve been, or where you are in life, I want you to know that YOU ARE LOVED, YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL, AND YOU ARE WORTH ALL THAT YOUR HEART DESIRES.