6 years ago, today, I hadn't yet given my life to the Lord. Actually, on my 20th birthday, I took mushrooms with my boyfriend. And I remember specifically realizing that I was looking for something that wasn't going to be found in drugs. I actually realized I was looking for a way to experience God without accepting the truth about Jesus and the consequences of wanting to be with him.
I've never been a "good" person - I never really cared about doing the "right thing" or performing to others' expectations. I thought rules should be in place to keep people safe, and if I thought it was a stupid rule, I wasn't going to follow it, and you couldn't really make me. I've always been very selfish. I mean, I know everyone is to one extent or another, but I really do think I'm exceptionally self-centered. Even now, Stephen's always been more selfless, and most (maybe all) of my friends are as well. I've never been a kind person or a patient person, and I can be very critical and judgmental (as in whoever standardized the spelling as "judgmental" did not understand the connection between spelling and pronunciation).
The point of all that is not how bad I was. It's just that, I didn't choose to follow Jesus because it was the right thing to do, or because God deserves glory and service. I chose to follow Jesus in the dead of night on the drive home (somewhere between Waco and Hearne) because I had exhausted all my other options in filling this need to be with God. He is righteous and holy and awesome and mighty and just, but He's also the Person in whom my purpose originates, and He loves me the way absolutely no one else can. All the longing and yearning, the late night drives and the paintings in my head, the songs I couldn't write but felt in my blood, my whole life was a map to that point. Almost like that point was the singularity on a black hole - everything fed into it, and past it, everything is being redeemed and made new.
I share all this to say a couple of things:
1) All the things I turned my back on, and all the dying I've done and will continue to do, is worth being with God. Having his Spirit to comfort and guide and, yes, even convict. He brings healing and restoration and sanctification (i.e. every day, I'm less of a corpse and more of a phoenix).
2) The "crazy" things I did when I was young are not nearly as difficult or momentous or life-changing or... or precipitous as the things I'm doing now, even though I'm just a wife and mom and part-time college "minister." I never expected for me to be where I am now, six years ago. I would've dreaded the thought, actually. But my plans were crap compared to this.
3) My birthday always reminds me of that time in my life. Not the time Stephen left a recording of a love song he wrote for me at the beginning of our relationship. That was so sweet, but my marriage isn't the main relationship in my life. God is my lord, and He owns my heart. My romance with Him has been much longer and will last literally forever. God loves me perfectly and it's this relationship that has caused the most change in my life, and which will always ultimately define me.
God made me, and He made me to be with Him. Thanks for the birth, Lord, and thanks for being who You are.