It’s not always easy to connect through the internet. While we may be able to communicate, to what degree can we actually connect? Converse, empathize, inquire, understand, grow? We feel inclined to post only the best photos showing all smiles and the perfect color coordinating family outfits. By no means is my life perfect, but I have found myself sometimes trying to create an outward image of perfection. I have come to learn of my core value of authenticity – sincerity and raw realism. As Shauna Niequist says, “Present Over Perfect”.
I see no better way to introduce myself and share who I am than telling my testimony. My faith is central to my identity and it defines my opinions, my choices and my actions, so sharing my journey to my relationship with Jesus seems like a proper introduction. One of the central themes of my brand is storytelling. I want to start by sharing my story and how it can point others to Christ.
I grew up with divorced parents. By no means was this a death sentence to my quality of life, because my parents are both great and worked very hard to minimize the hardship my sister and I faced as a result of their failed marriage. The main affect the divorce had on my life and my faith journey was the confusion regarding religion. On my dad’s side, I visited a non-denominational Christian church, while on my mom’s side, we attended CCD and Catholic mass regularly. I was taught conflicting messages which confused my understanding of my faith, but I maintained a strong personal relationship with God. I was always very spiritual as a kid, and I would often pray to God about whatever was on my heart and mind. I felt very connected to Him and centered in my beliefs.
As I grew up in suburban Washington D.C., faith was not a huge priority in my local community. I could sense a lack of authenticity in the Catholic church I attended and it bothered me. I wondered Why are we reciting these prayers from memory rather than praying from our hearts? and Why are the “rules” more important than the people? It all came back to authenticity and this pressing desire on my heart to figure out what truly mattered.
When I was 22 years old, I went through a divorce. Never in my life did I envision myself divorced at age 22. It truly rocked my world in many ways. The experience taught me the importance of being reflective and honest about the struggles and challenges life brings. Rather than putting up a front of perfection, be vulnerable. This doesn’t mean putting all of your marriage problems on Facebook, but it does mean leaning into your family and friends and encompassing yourself in community. If you try to pretend everything is great, you will eventually feel overwhelmed by the reality convincing you otherwise. I know that God loves me and has forgiven me. He has taught me to stand by my friends and love them through their toughest battles.
He has also blessed me with the most incredible marriage to my husband, Mark. Mark is my own personal super hero who treats me like a queen and loves me so deeply. He wows me every single day. We think together, laugh together and learn together. I couldn’t be more thankful for the way God turned ashes to beauty in my life.
As of November 8th, 2019, I am now a mama to my sweet Charlotte Emily. Charlie has helped me grow in so many ways. I’ve learned to function on very little sleep, take deep breaths in moments of frustration and let my heart be vulnerable. I think of Charlie as my heart outside of my body. I feel her pain, her joy. Every day when I leave her, I leave myself vulnerable. As she grows up, I know it’s only going to get harder. Parenting does a great job of giving us the perspective God has of us. He loves us so deeply. He wants good for us. But He lovingly gave us the will to make our own choices. He watches us as we wander through life. He guides us and forgives us through our ups and downs. He stands behind us, ready to catch us when we fall.
When I think about the question, “How does my life tell the story of Christ?”, my answer comes down to this:
1. Constant forgiveness.
2. Unending, unconditional love.
3. Perfection in the imperfect.
I believe in forgiving and supporting others through their tough times, regardless of whether I agree with their life decisions.
I feel the warmth of God’s unending, unconditional love for me. I want others to feel that too. Bob Goff says it best, “Everybody, always.” There’s never a good time to NOT show love to someone.
Lastly, I believe in embracing the imperfection of life and just being you. Fill your life with people who accept and love you just as you are. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
Thank you for reading my story. If you’ve never written out your testimony or asked yourself the question above, I encourage you to carve out some time to do so. For me, writing my thoughts is therapeutic and serves as a reminder later in life of the ways God has shown up for me. Comment below if you have any prayer requests I can lift up for you!