I graduated from Baylor this past December with my Master’s degree. I finished college in 4.5 years and it honestly flew by. In those 4.5 years, I was never really a person I was proud of. Yes I managed to do well in school, have good grades, study abroad, get an awesome internship that turned into the job offer of a life time and graduate early, but my personal life was a mess. I gave into pressures of the world, I ran far far away from God, I searched for love and validation in all the wrong places, I thought people only liked me and wanted to be my friend when I drank and partied. I looked in the mirror and had no idea who the girl looking back was, I had completely lost myself. I struggled with anxiety, depression, binge eating, feelings of worthlessness, emotional abuse from guys and so many other things. I hid all of these things from the people around me, I would rather hide in my room and cry into my pillow, or in the shower, than allow any one that loved me to be burdened with my problems.

When I would do these things, I always felt this part of me telling me not to. This small voice was always there telling me not to do it, that I didn’t have to do it, that if people really cared about me, they would be my friend no matter what. I ignored that voice.

After I graduated, I moved straight to Dallas. I left behind everything from my hometown, everything from college. I thought a new city would change me, but sometimes you need a breaking point to finally have your eyes opened. As I was sitting alone in my apartment one night after drinking two bottles of wine alone, I found a bottle of prescription meds from when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I sat on the floor just holding the bottle in my hand, too afraid to open it. I sat and cried and screamed out everything I hated about myself, all the horrible things I had done, how unworthy of love I was and how I could never be forgiven. That small voice was there again, telling me to step away from all of it, that I can change and I can still have a purpose and a life I could be proud of.

I decided the only way to change was to do something about it. I couldn’t sit in my apartment all day alone watching netflix and feeling alone. I found a church and told myself I was gonna go, even if I had to go alone. So on New Year’s day I went to church for the first time since I left for college. That day they preached about a new name for yourself, how we have labeled ourselves and let others label us, but that we are so much more than those things.

I am not unloved. I am not unworthy. I am not a party girl.

I am redeemed. I am loved. I am a daughter of the King. I am worthy of saving.

Shortly after that I bought a new bible (I had one in high school but who knows what happened to it) and a few other christian books. I dove in head first. I read story after story of God’s redeeming love, His never ending mercy, His forgiveness. I read about so many lives of sin that people were living in and how they all came to one conclusion, they had to hit rock bottom and the only answer was Christ. I learned that if we just lay it all out there, the good, the bad, the ugly, the things we would never want anyone to know. If we just give it all up to God, it has no hold on us anymore, we can be set free.

One night I got out a journal and wrote down all my secrets, everything I am ashamed of, everything I thought was unforgivable, and I just gave it all up to God. I felt an overwhelming peace and weight lifted off my chest.

I am made new. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. I am beloved.

Many people wouldn’t recognize me any more, they would be shocked to see me in a church and talking about God, shocked to see me choosing to stay in on a Friday night rather than hitting up the bars. But I am finally living a life where I understand and accept God’s love and realize that it is so much greater than the earthly pleasures I allowed to take hold of me. I love that I can attend a church that fills me with so much truth and understanding of my purpose. I love that I can go to The Porch, where thousands of people my age, who are equally as broken, gather and hear about God’s love and our ability to change this world if we completely surrender to Him. I love that I have the confidence to go to the gym everyday and give my body the love it deserves. I love spending my free time volunteering at the Dallas food bank to serve others in my community. I love that I am planning to go on two or three different mission trips between now and when I start my job in August. I love that I no longer allow toxic relationships in my life. Yes, I fail God daily and my faith is sometimes weak, but I know I can never do anything to make Him leave me. I can never outrun his love. I am greater than my mistakes.

Even though I live alone in this big city, I have never felt less alone. In college, I was surrounded by thousands of people DAILY and I felt completely alone. Moving here was a scary decision and it took me awhile to have my eyes opened and to finally listen to that voice inside of me, but I made it and I see it was the best decision for me. I am so excited to see the ways God is working in my life and to see His plans unravel for me and to just be able to walk in everyday life with Him and feel His overwhelming love.

You are never too far gone. He has never left your side. You are beloved.

These are things I constantly remind myself and tell myself daily.

I was running for so long, but I’ve stopped running.

I am perfectly flawed, and full of His grace. He loves me.