Recently, I found myself filling out an employment application – the first one I had filled out in many years. I’ve worked inside my home for many years. In fact, the life I lived before my husband and children is a life I don’t think about very often. It feels like a different person lived those years – for many reasons.
When completing employment applications, we are asked to provide information about the past. Our work history. Previous accomplishments. Other names we might have been known by. These questions can stir up memories of a past we have worked to put behind us.
I did not come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ until I was in my late 20’s. By then, I’d had nearly 3 decades of living according to the only way I knew how: for me. I believed in God, but I had a very warped concept of who He was. I thought He was a distant judge. Or I told myself, “God wants me to be happy,” which basically gave me permission to act according to my own wants and needs. Everyone else (including God) was an afterthought. I alone ruled on the throne of my life.
During this time, I was married and divorced. I married young and did not know how to be a good wife – certainly not a godly wife. These years were not happy years. My marriage was not healthy. I was in a very dark place emotionally. The divorce was acrimonious.
When I became a Christian (and by that, I mean, I acknowledged before God that I was a sinner and placed my trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior), I had been studying the Bible for a few months. I began to store up verses in my heart that gave me hope and encouragement:
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… (Joel 2:25)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. (Psa. 40:2)
I believed I was a new creation. Over time, God changed my heart, and by His grace He did indeed restore the years the locusts had eaten.
But here I was, 20+ years later, staring at the employment forms, knowing I needed to put my “old” name on a piece of paper and cringing at the idea that I might have to explain myself or my past. I began to feel shame creeping into my heart.
I tried to contact a trusted friend. She was unavailable. It was just God and me. He spoke tenderly to me through His Word:
Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. (Psa. 100:3)
I was reminded, once again, that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can do to earn God’s love. Christ is my Good Shepherd. He paid the penalty for my sin — my past, present, and future sin. God sees Christ when He sees me. As I took to heart how powerful that truth is, I knew the enemy was trying to use shame to keep me from seeing the unfailing love of my perfect Father.
There is freedom, such freedom, in knowing your sin is forgiven. I have nothing to be afraid of! My Father in heaven has adopted me into His family!
I did reach my trusted friend. She told me to place my employment forms in the hands of the One who died for me. I did. And He took away all my uncertainty, doubt, and shame. I am His.
Growing in Grace