Hey everyone- Carissa here! One of my favorite Christmas passages comes from the words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist and the one who held the honor of hearing a word from the Lord for the first time in 400 years. “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke [1:78]-79) The mercy of light in the darkness… anyone who is sitting in suffering today understands how merciful a glimpse of light can truly be. So many are so deep in pain and suffering that comes with the darkness of a fallen world that the chance of even a sliver of light can bring some relief. While some are struggling through this season because of circumstances beyond your control, others are trapped in a nightmare of needless shame and guilt, desperate for any sign of dawn and the peace that just might come with the rising sun. This is why I love what my friend Jessica is sharing on today’s blog post. She is no stranger to that nightmare. But the dawn of Christmas morning brought news that is true for all, and it is really. good. news.
Here is Jessica’s story:
As the Christmas season is hitting its peak and the end of the year is near, most of us take an introspective look back at the past year looking to make changes for the upcoming new year; even looking back further to Christmases past.
When we look back 2000 years, we are reminded of the ultimate gift we were all given, and that is Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God. John 1:29 tells us just that. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'” Did you catch that? He was sent here as a helpless baby to take away your sins!
We all are sinners. We all have a past and a story to tell.
My story has lots of ups and downs. It started with me being diagnosed with cancer at age 5, then my parent’s divorce, followed by four years of abuse and torment from my stepdad. I thought that I finally got away from the madness when I went to college but instead, I created a whole new world of crazy as a coping technique. I started drinking too much and hanging with the wrong crowds. Soon after the school year started, I lost my virginity. Once that happened I threw my hands up in despair.
As my level of concern lowered, my self-esteem plummeted and I found myself pregnant and alone. I didn’t think I had any other options so I told the father and we decided that it was best that I have an abortion and terminate the pregnancy. I remember every detail of the trip to the clinic. In my heart, I was mourning the loss of this person I didn’t even meet. I was angry at myself and the actions that led up to this shameful act.
Paul’s writing in Psalm 103 tells us all about God’s compassion for us (v.13). We may hold on to our hurt, our despair, our frustrations and we may cling to our past failures, but GOD offers us “steadfast love” (v. 11). He “redeems your life from the pit” (v4). To be reunited with Christ means that we GET to receive the gift of compassion.
I met my wonderful husband three months later, and after a few months more I told him what I had done. Jeremy accepted me as I was, regardless of my past, and loved me and supported me. It was so awesome to have that kind of relationship because it wasn’t something I was used to experiencing. I remember crying and him wrapping his arms around me and holding me tight while I sobbed into his shirt. He was the first person I had ever told.
It took me two more years of keeping this secret before I would tell anyone else. It took me just as long to finally forgive myself! I had been asking God to forgive me for such a sin. I would ask Him, almost daily to take the pain and sin away and take care of that precious child that I sent to heaven too soon. Trying to get back to who I was years before, I began attending church, getting in the Word and actually talking to God again.
I remember one evening in my room, I was asking the Lord to forgive me, once again, and very audibly I heard the Lord tell me, “My precious daughter, what are you talking about? I have already forgiven you!” That’s when I realized I had to forgive myself, that Christ had already forgiven me. Psalm 1[03:12] tells us that once our Heavenly Father forgives us for a sin, He pushes it as far as the east is from the west and He doesn’t remember it any longer. Now that doesn’t mean that our sin does not come with consequences even after Christ forgives us but God is not the one bringing it back up to you. Satan is!
Satan is a liar and a thief, sent to kill, steal, and destroy (John [10:10]). He wants nothing more than to keep you away from Christ, doubting yourself, bound by your sin, and wallowing in darkness. My dear friend can I tell you something that took me way too long to figure out? Christ is LIGHT! Where there is Light, there is no darkness (John [12:46])! When you bring the Almighty Father into your situation, Satan cannot prevail!
Once I forgave myself I was able to tell others what God had brought me through, the grace that was so overwhelming and prevalent in my life! I shined so much light on my dark past that God started giving me more opportunities to share my story and I did so without shame! Because…..my God is good! He does not want us to live in fear. He wants us to welcome Him in so that He can do a work inside of us (Ephesians [3:20])!
As I was obedient in telling my story, God gave me the opportunity to help a young girl who was contemplating an abortion herself. Almost six years ago, a friend of mine came to me and told me about her daughter who had just found out she was pregnant. Through that experience the Lord was able to show me the love that He has for His children, regardless of our disobedient nature! This Momma decided to keep her baby, and the Lord has given me a yearly reminder of His grace and mercy. This little boy was born, four days after his due date, on MY birthday! I mean, Y’all…how great is our God?!
This journey may have been arduous, but God’s grace has shone down on me through it all.
I tell you all of that as a reminder that God is faithful, His love is steadfast, and no matter what you’ve done, no matter what your story is, Jesus is in the forgiving business and wants to hear from you. I challenge you, dear friend, that if you are lost and looking for God, know that He is looking for you too! He WANTS you to come home, no matter the damage you think you have made, His loving arms are still open and ready to embrace you. To forgive you of your sins and start fresh. His mercies are new every morning.
Remember the reason for this season!
Hi! My name is Jessica DeYoung. I am “Mom” to four amazing littles and have been married to my husband, Jeremy, for ten years. For the last 3.5 years, I have been a birth doula, childbirth educator, and studying to become a midwife. About six months ago, God gave me an opportunity to take a break from childbirth and focus on a new season, writing, speaking, and leading a women’s small group with the emphasis on God’s redeeming grace! I am so excited to see how God is growing me is moving through this ministry. Not my will but His! You can find out more about me by reading my blog at blog.GraceUnworthy.com