I am a Christian, but I am in no way perfect or better than you.
My story isn’t all that dramatic.
I never killed or mortally injured anyone.
I never beat up an old lady or robbed one for drug money.
I never sold my body for money.
I never sold drugs either.
I didn’t grow up without church or not knowing about Jesus or God. I did. Even when my parents didn’t bother to go to church my brother and I went with our grandparents. I knew all the stories, all the rules. I knew the hypocrites. The people who you went to Sunday School with who were convinced they were better than you because you were poor and they were rich little private Christian school kids. I let them make me think I wasn’t a Christian. I didn’t want to be them. I didn’t want to be snobby. I didn’t want to exclude and hate other people.
I wanted to be a good person.
Somewhere along the way I completely gave up on it.
Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to do what I wanted to do.
Consequences, pardon me a moment, be damned.
I did drugs.
I got drunk.
I had sex.
I lied – a lot.
All of that before I turned 17.
I ended up with an almost one year old and pregnant with my second when I graduated high school.
I’m not saying Christians don’t do all of that also. Some do. Some just say they are Christians when really, they aren’t. Some are Christians who know they need help and they are trying. Remember being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. Being a Christian means that you know that you need help. That you can’t do everything on your own. It means knowing that you are flawed. It means knowing that you are a sinner and that you can never not be a sinner. You can try. You can pray, you can beg God to make you perfect, but you know you will never be perfect. You will never be good enough on your own to make it into Heaven.
There I was, 18 and pregnant with my second child. I was terrified – more so than I was the first time. Because I had been trying to make my life better. I had a son now who needed me to be the best mom he could have. The moment I found out I was pregnant I stopped drinking and doing drugs. I tried not to lie. I tried to be a better person. Obviously I didn’t stop having sex… seeing as how I was pregnant again and all.
Getting pregnant with Zach at 16 was hard on my family. It wasn’t what any of them wanted for me, but we all pulled through. I had one huge wonderful support system with them. It had happened, and we were all determined to make the best of it. And now I was pregnant again. How totally could I possibly mess up my life? How much could I disappoint everyone who loved and cared about me? I didn’t even deserve their help or support this time. This time it was all on me.
I was sitting in church with my family one Sunday morning, my mom and step-dad had finally managed to get me back to going. The whole time I was sitting there with a sick ball of dread in my stomach. I was pregnant, again, and I had to tell them. I was so scared of what they would say, how they would react. Surely this would be the announcement that would make them not love me anymore. That would make them look at my in disappointment and write me off as a lost cause. Had they ever done anything to make me suspect they would feel that way? No, but my logical self was absent those weeks. Eventually I tuned in somewhat to the sermon. It was about forgiveness. Something about how if this horrible guy in the Bible can be forgiven and changed we all can. That there is not anything that we can do that God will not forgive us of if we only ask him to. I was pregnant, hormonal, and bawling like a baby. I wanted someone to forgive me of all the stupid stuff I did. I wanted to tell someone that I had messed up again, gotten pregnant again, but that it was OK, they’d be there for me.
You could say that was my ah ha moment.
I’m still not perfect. I still screw up a lot. I still have moments of weakness. Of selfishness. The difference now is that I know that it’s OK not to be perfect, that I can never be perfect, and that God loves me for that. That is what makes me want to try to be the best I can now. Not just for my children, but because I know that I have this wonderful precious gift that I can never deserve or earn, never, but I can try.