I lean down to pick at the overgrown bush in the front yard of my childhood home, leaf in one hand, phone in the other. I straighten my back and look out at the beautiful day. Too beautiful for such serious news, but necessary news nonetheless.

I dial his number, leaf scrunched firm in my fist as if to pacify the blow. My mind was made up. The desire wasn’t there, and though I tried to make my heart work, it wouldn’t.

The Break Up

I tell him that this ministry thing just isn’t for me. And the possibility of foreign missions, well, that’s not what I want to do with my life. So, this isn’t going to work.

Silence fell. I clenched my tattered leaf and waited for his response. His confusion met my ears.

“Krissy, are you sure?” he asked.

I hated this question. I wasn’t just sure, I was positive.

“If this is the path you’ve chosen, then yes, I am sure,” I replied. “This is not the direction I’m headed. I’m sorry.”

You’ve Got the Wrong Girl

I didn’t like that weight on me. You know, the responsibility of leading people. Jesus calls them sheep, but sheep bite. I really don’t want the fish bowl, and I really do not want this future.

Besides, who am I to lead His sheep anyway? It’s comical, really. A girl like me, dragging behind a shameful past, with the stench of old cigarettes still nestled in the fabric of my car. The stain of two arrests for alcohol consumption and memories of the jail cell wall, cold on my back, knees pulled tight against my musty orange jumpsuit. There were drugs and boys, and now I’m just damaged goods. I sweat to scrub my sins away, but no amount of soap can wash me clean. No amount of right can negate my wrong.

With a courteous goodbye, I hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. I felt as if I could live again. There are some things you just know, and this I knew. He and I were worlds apart. And I was glad to be done with it. Because why prolong the inevitable when you’re certain the future will only crumble?

The Turmoil

I would see him sitting in our usual pew. I’d look over and our eyes would meet. I was afraid of what I’d find in them, afraid he’d despise the sight of me just like all the boys before him. But rather, he’d smile like he always did when we sat close, hands interlocked, feet entwined together. He smiled in the face of my rejection, he smiled though I had lost interest in him.

Soon everyone learned of our split. Friends and family grew frustrated with my decision and they let me know it. They said I was a fool, how I’d never marry, and how there would never be another like him.

And being the people-pleaser that I am, I was driven to my knees. I prayed into the night, atop the thick, hunter green carpet of my bedroom floor and I asked God to change my heart. I asked Him to open my eyes, to make me see. The prayer was a simple one, and I only prayed it once. But once was all it would take.

Two weeks later I finally saw him for the man he was. For the man he had been all along.

Seeing Clearly

I wiped the metaphorical mud from my eyes, and with haste they were open. What once seemed right was now wrong. I had been wrong.

I saw him. The one who visited the sick and gave his money to the poor. The gentleman who opened car doors and hugged little old ladies. The man who was intent on living simply, studying Scripture and changing the world one smile, one hug, one small act of kindness at at time.

And suddenly, I understood what I needed in a man. A man who would not be moved by the damaging past of a girl who didn’t know real love. A man who, embracing it all, would lead the way in truth, knee-deep in the muck and mire of my utter mess. Someone I knew I could trust with my greatest shame and humiliation and adore me anyway. A man who’d be faithful to the end. A man who would teach our kids about the only things that really matter in this world.

And he saw me. Me, an unlikely candidate. I was chosen by a man, a young and promising pastor, who carried with him the love of the Father. I carry with me my past, brokenness, and heavy chains. But He chose me, and he’s gently restoring my shame, seeing me as a prize, and proudly calls me his.

We would marry a year later and there would begin my new life and this new culture I knew nothing of. My journey with Grant—and with the Lord—commenced.

An Upside-Down World

I am not fit for a king but The King chose me. Not because I can do anything for Him, but because He longs to do things through me.

In His Kingdom, everything is upside-down. I will never understand why God chose a girl like me. But I don’t have to. His ways are not my ways. I am Moses: insecure, standing before the burning bush, resisting this new identity He so freely gives. But He does not rule as we do.

No. He crowns the bottom-dwellers as kingdom-dwellers. He calls the broken blessed and the weak strong, and gathers the shattered pieces of disillusionment of our lives.

“I will use this,” He promises. “And it will not go to waste.”