The Real Me- Natalie Grant
Let it Fade- Jeremy Camp
Bless the Broken Road- Rascal Flatts
(Because music is the perfect backdrop for everything...just click on the links to listen)
When you become a Christian, life is supposed to be a little easier and slightly perfect, right? The modern message of the "gospel" is that if you ask God into your heart, He will give you whatever you want in life. That, however, is not biblical and not quite how things work. In fact, I would say that being a Christian has probably complicated things in my life and added a level of stress and pressure that some other people don't experience. When you are a sinner trying to impress a holy God, nothing you do ever feels adequate. That being said, letting Christ into my life was and still is the absolute best and most important thing I have ever done. I cannot imagine for a second walking down such a broken road without Him.
I became a Christian when I was about 13 years old. Prior to that, nobody had ever really told me about Christ in a way that made me pay attention. As a kid, I never went to church that much but the few memories I have of it consisted of social gatherings and running around with other kids. I can remember sneaking into the kitchen and eating the communion bread with my friends (God forgive me) and thinking it was funny when I heard someone say they were "born again." I thought they were a little off their rocker. I had very little outward knowledge of the truth, but I am a big believer that everyone has an inherent knowledge of God (Romans 1:20). When I finally was presented with a fiery message about salvation as a teen, I grasped hold of it right away. I got saved at a megachurch and hate to admit it because the pastor, who seemed so "anointed" back then, has turned out to be pretty wacky and money-hungry. He is a "sow your seed" pastor now but God still used him way back then to change my life forever. From that point on, I began attending a local church and became very involved in my youth group, which provided a firm foundation for my faith. I turned into the weird girl at school who didn't go out and do the mischievous things my friends did. Instead, I hung out with the kids in my youth group and my relationship with God grew stronger during my late teen years. I ended up going away to a Christian college after graduation. I was on the right track but it didn't last long once I got there and started to experience some freedom.
During my first semester at college, I made some very ungodly choices, which would affect the rest of my life. I began hanging out with the wrong crowd, going to bars, and not following the path I had set out on. Due to the choices I was making, I ended up being pulled out of college by my parents. I was sneaking back there to visit a guy I met and within a few months, I was pregnant. It was a typical good girl gone wrong story. To make a long story short, my parents thought it best for us to get married so we did. I was 19 and not in love but spiritually, I had hit a brick wall of reality and wanted to get back to making the right choices. Lexi was born a month after my 20th birthday and a little over two years later, Kacie came along. I made the best of our circumstances even though we were basically impoverished and too immature for the life we had made for ourselves. During our just short of 5-year marriage, I went to x-ray school and worked to make ends meet. It was exhausting but I had no choice. I did return to serving the Lord as sincerely as I had before but I still had to deal with the consequences of my choices. Eventually, our marriage fell apart due to reasons I won't discuss in this public forum. It has taken a lot of forgiveness to move forward with my girls' dad for their sake. God walked with me as I sought to raise my girls alone and yet I still let Him down again and again. As is common with people who have a poor sense of self-worth, I felt desperate for love and affection.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself in a second marriage, better than the first but still founded on ungodly choices. Looking back, I realize how quick I have been to exchange the truth of God for the lie of selfish desire. This time, finances were not an issue nor were some of the other things I faced in my first marriage, but there were plenty of others to deal with. During this time, I went back to school to be a teacher, started my new career, and had another baby (Natalie). We were going to church and trying to "be good Christians." On the surface, it seemed like we had and all; however, there were major issues that became too much to bear and, unfortunately, we didn't make it to five years either. I was left once again feeling inadequate, lonely, and pitiful but with three girls to raise this time. Looking back, I feel we could and should have tried harder and fought longer to fix things in our marriage, but only hindsight is 20/20.
A few years after my second divorce, I met my current husband and we married after only a six-month courtship. We both had three children and hoped they would all fall in love with each other as quickly as we had. I don't think I had ever been so in love and this time felt different than the others. It had been a very broken road that led us to each other, but apparently God chose to bless us despite our past mistakes and choices. I moved two hours from my hometown to start my new life. In our marriage, we have dealt with all sorts of issues over the years and things haven't always been smooth sailing but, by the grace of God, we are stronger than ever. You can read more about our family and our life in my post called "Meet the Yates.'' At the six-year mark, I really felt like we had it all together. We were both in successful jobs and part of an amazing church family where we were serving in different capacities. My husband and I prayed and studied the Word together and were trying our best to provide our kids with an example of a godly marriage. I had wanted that since I was a teen and I finally had it. Then, out of the blue, our world came crashing down as we were confronted with some devastating circumstances. Our faith and beliefs would be tested to the core and we would have to walk down a long and terrifying road together. You can read about our journey in my post called "Kacie's Story" or in my other blog, Willow Tree Diaries. Now, eight years later and on the other side of tragedy, we are still together and in love. Our kids are inseparable and our family is stronger for what we have gone through.
Personally, I never imagined I would travel such a curvy and bumpy road in my life. Like the Jewish nation in the Bible, I consistently walked into and out of the will of God since I first trusted Christ as my Savior. It took a lot of pain and heartache to lead me back each time, but God's grace is truly amazing and He is so faithful to forgive us.
I share my my testimony with you so you can understand my spiritual background. Perhaps you have been down a similar path. Maybe you think you are the only one who feels they have disappointed God or that you cannot even pursue a relationship with God because of your past. By letting you see the real me, I pray that you will understand that God can and does make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). I realize that it is tough to accept wisdom from someone who has never experienced any difficulties or from someone with a lofty opinion of their spiritual maturity, so I wanted you to see a glimpse of the source of my spiritual insight. It doesn't come from a life of moonlight and roses; it is the result of many years of going around the same mountain and wrestling with God through all sorts of trials. There is so much more to share. I have been through my parents' divorce, an absent father, a life-long struggle with weight and self esteem issues, someone in my life going to prison, alcoholism and drug abuse in my family, childhood cancer, the death of a child, and now grieving that loss. I pray that I can take the lessons life has taught me and the wisdom I have gained with each mistake and each challenge and convey some of it to you in upcoming posts. Nobody has the perfect life. Everybody has a story. Welcome to mine. Until next time...
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Hello and WELCOME to my site! My name is Amanda Yates and I am a 41 year-old mom of six children from a blended family. I am a middle school teacher and a passionate follower of Christ. In my "free" time, I love finding and decorating my home with country antiques, organizing, studying scripture, and making every attempt to get my life "just right." I am blessed beyond measure!
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Faith & Reflection Blog