I was only 12 years old when I began giving myself away, piece by piece. First it was pornography and cybersex; then it slowly moved toward physical sexual encounters. I continued this behavior for a whole decade of my life, until I was about 22.
For most of my youth, I never felt my dad loved me. He was an on-again-off-again alcoholic, and I know it was that missing piece in my life that made me long for genuine worth and acceptance. And as I grew up, I constantly pursued approval and attention from boys.
I dealt with rejection, depression, anxiety and a giant void in my heart I didn’t know how to fill. I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar.
Filling the Void
In college, my love for theater and acting became my means of escaping my desire to be truly accepted. I tried to find fulfillment in the fantasy relationships I had with others on stage and attempted to make real off stage. But my pride caused me to fall in love with myself, trying to satisfy the emptiness that refused to be filled.
I knew John 3:16 by heart — “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life” — but it was really just head knowledge. I didn’t fully understand it. I couldn’t shake the religious upbringing that taught me only about a vengeful, angry God who would smite me down if I were not perfect.
I still felt like I had to work for forgiveness and acceptance. And love. That performance-driven mentality affected all areas of my life. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I never felt good enough.
I reached a point where I stopped trying and just lived. I made plans to run away to Los Angeles. I would be an actress and prove to the world my worth, talent, beauty and charm. But, after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish, promiscuous existence.
I hadn’t been to church for years, but one morning I went. During the worship service, I heard God whisper, “Welcome home.” Immediately I knew I needed to stop running away from Him and start running toward Him. In that moment, I realized where I belonged. I told Him I didn’t want to live this lie on my own anymore.
Suddenly, I felt warmth surround me, and I knew it was His arms wrapping around me.
Faith at a Crossroad
As I began to loosen my grip on my plans for my life one finger at a time, God began showing me my worth and my true purpose. I finally laid down my prideful desires to become an actress in Los Angeles and decided to truly follow Jesus, wherever that led, for the first time in my life.
But only a few short months after I made that decision, I received some traumatic news. Someone murdered my father outside of a strip club. His lifestyle landed him in the wrong crowd, and it tragically cost him his life.
That’s when my faith reached a crossroad.
I could either believe Jesus was my solid rock, my firm foundation, or allow my father’s murder to completely shake me and destroy me. It wasn’t easy, but I chose to believe. At my father’s funeral, I read one of his favorite poems, “Footprints in the Sand,” and I told my family Jesus would be the One to carry us through this tragedy.
Since my father’s funeral, I have not stopped running toward God. I find refuge in His presence, and I choose daily to walk in His will, study His Word, and spend time in worship and prayer.
God has completely healed me, delivered me, transformed me and overwhelmed me with His love. He is the Father I always wanted — the One who will never leave me or reject me.
I don’t work for forgiveness anymore; now I fully receive His forgiveness. I know I have been forgiven of so much, and I long to be so filled with God’s love that it pours out of me to everyone I meet. I want others to know they can never outrun His love. I know I sure tried that, and I learned I can never be too far gone for God to fulfill His purpose in me.
I speak from experience when I say nothing in this world will ever be able to satisfy like God’s love does. Now I get it: Nothing can ever separate us from Him. Nothing. We don’t have to work for His love or prove ourselves worthy of it.
I once struggled for a purpose and identity, and I know I’m not the only one. But let me tell you, the greatest position you will ever stand in is being a child of God.