This guy with told me as a freshman in college that 18 to 24 are the most transformational years of your life. At the same time that this message spilled into my mind, 18-year-old Rachel scanned his sleeves of tattoos on both arms and legs. He told me that he would not be able to recognize his 18-year-old self if he met himself right then. To be completely honest, I was apprehensive to this information because I thought to myself, “Will I have this many tattoos when I’m 24?” He was 25 at the time and he was put into jail last year for dealing drugs.
As a senior in college, I think about what I was like as a freshman in college. The funny thing is that I am 21 now, half way through the “transformational years” and I feel like I’m actually getting what he means. He didn’t mean that he couldn’t recognize himself because he looked older and got sleeves of really awesome tattoos. He meant his heart changed. He meant that his heart had shattered, opened, grown, and been nurtured. It had been at times very numb, and at times very soft. Over the past month, my heart has been completely changed.
I hadn’t REALLY prayed in a long time, I wasn’t living in a way that I felt like I could talk to God about my issues. I had a lot of addictions and loves that did not match what God loved. So, I had God shut out of my life and I was first. I was living for me. I had a lot of guilt and I wasn’t honest or transparent with most of the people around me. I came home one night around midnight from a day that I initially considered the worst. I was broken, I was tired, and I was alone. I called my closest friends and no one answered. In the midst of realizing no one was there for me, I felt The Lord so softly speak into my heart, “I Am Here.” Then, I began crying. I had told God that I didn’t need Him for years, and He still wanted to take care of my heart. He forgave me. He let me cry to Him and take comfort in His friendship. I am humbled and overwhelmed my the grace of who Jesus really is.
In that moment, I felt like I was home after being on a devastatingly long trip. I feel like I am living life again. I feel joy. I’m SO not perfect and I realize that I can’t be, but I find that Jesus is faithful and perfect. He loves me despite my issues. Despite my messy thoughts and actions. He forgives me every day when I disobey Him. He corrects me and sharpens me when I study the bible and talk to Him, but that doesn’t ever make ME a better person. It makes me only see and know how GOOD He is. He reveals to me that He will be my strength in my every weakness. I pray that He will make me obedient to His word, and I always have a heart that is tender to His truth.
This week is Homecoming at the University Of North Alabama, and it’s funny that Homecoming has meant something a little different to me this year. I am finally home.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him….
‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”