*I was honored to have this post featured at Purposeful Faith! You can find a portion of it there along with some other amazing words of encouragement from fellow bloggers!
God was very real to me growing up. I didn’t just know about Him; I can honestly say that knew Him on a personal level. What went wrong for me is hard to pinpoint to one single event in my life. It was a very slow downward spiral that I never saw coming. All I know is that I woke up one morning realizing that I was sitting at the bottom of a deep, dark pit of loneliness and confusion. My reputation was destroyed, and I had no idea how I was going to make it out alive.
Hitting rock bottom was the best thing that ever happened to me. Of course, no one ever says that when they’re in the midst of their struggles. It’s only when we’ve made it to the top that we realize how much we needed that time of desperation. For me, rock bottom was just that – I was alone and desperate for God.
During the climb, I struggled. Not only with my circumstances, but with something I had no control over – the way others perceived me.
I often identified with the Prodigal Son. What a beautiful picture of how God restores His children and welcomes them home with arms open wide. In my heart, I was there. I was home. God was restoring me from the inside out and setting me free from my past. There was just one problem… I couldn’t shake my reputation. Every time I would take a step closer to restoration, there was someone there to remind me of my past failures.
I was beginning to wonder if I could ever move on. I knew God was drawing me in, but many of the people around me wouldn’t allow it. They were determined to see me as the Christian girl who messed up – the hypocrite.
That is when I decided to accept how people perceived me. I determined in my heart that I deserved the consequence of a destroyed reputation. After all, I did fail; and perhaps I had it coming. I lived this way for a long time – reconciled to God, set free from sin, but still perceiving myself to be a hypocrite and a failure.
Then God grabbed hold of my heart…
All this time, I had subconsciously allowed myself to believe that my destroyed reputation was God’s way of punishing me for my wrongdoings. In reality, God desperately wanted to restore all of me – including my reputation – so that I could bring Him glory and honor.
A funny thing happened when I finally let go of my reputation – God intervened.
First of all, I learned that God cares about how others perceive those who are His. He will always defend His children because He understands our pain.
Jesus knows all too well what it’s like to have a reputation destroy you. He was perfect and without sin, yet He was laughed at and mocked to the point of death.
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. – Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)
Secondly, God taught me what it means to seek Him first in all things… including my reputation. When we hold on to things and choose to use our own strength to defend ourselves, we aren’t allowing God and His strength to take over. God wanted to renew my reputation, but I refused to trust Him with it.
Finally, God taught me who I was in His eyes. All those who belong to Him are citizens of His Kingdom, members of the body of Christ, co-heirs with Christ Jesus, strong warriors, and children of the one true King (that makes us royalty).
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1 (NLT)
God has blessed me with so much since my dark days at rock bottom. He has transformed the world around me and restored my reputation in the process. He brought people into my life who would see me the way God sees me, and He has challenged me to view others the same way.
I am still a work in progress, and there are certainly days when I struggle to surrender. But day by day, I am learning to let go and trust God.