Let me tell you a little something about the girl I used to be. She was lost, insecure, seeking acceptance and love in all the wrong places. She was well known, and well liked (this is debatable), and she thought she knew was she was doing, but boy was she wrong. Guys, I was a hot mess, and not in the attractive kind of way. My identity was built on the acceptance of boys and my ability to throw back shots. I know, it wasn’t the greatest skill set, but it was what I thought I was. I want to tell you a bit about her story.
Not having a firm foundation or understanding of my identity as a daughter of the King of the Universe lead me down a dark road in high school. I quickly got myself immersed in the party scene and thought I really enjoyed living my life in a constant blur. It was fun. I had a lot of silly moments, and this was what being young was all about, right? Over and over I was met with the reality of my sin– the guilt, shame, self-hatred, and not feeling like I was enough was killing me. But, I squashed those feelings down and continued on in my quest for fulfillment in this way for four years.
When college rolled around, I had decided that I wanted to turn over a new leaf. My reputation was garbage and my dignity had gotten lost along the way. I didn’t want to live ashamed anymore. I decided to move fourteen hours away to a large southern school and begin this new life as the real Rylie. Unfortunately, the only Rylie I had known was the Rylie that was four shots deep and trying to gain the attention of a hottie across the room. My soul was thirsting for more, but I had no idea how to satisfy it. I didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t know who I wanted to be, so my fail-proof plan led me back down the path I had always walked. I decided to rush a sorority. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was about to show me who I really was through this new life.
As I began to try and fit into this new lifestyle, I found myself out with my new sisters one night a bar. It was like any other night at first, until I found that the girls I had come with had left. Here I was in the middle of a bar chatting with a young man I had just met, intoxicated and on my own. He said he would walk me home when my panic became visible and so I gathered my things and we left. I was assaulted that night. I found myself drowning in loneliness, shame, and I felt like it had all happened because I was just too broken of a person for anything else to have been the end result of a reckless night out. In the midst of that moment, I was hopeless.
One of my new sorority sisters must have recognized that in me, because she went out of her way to invite me to something she called “Fam time”. I had no reason to tell her no, so I went. I walked into her house for the first time and was confronted with warm smiles and bibles. To be honest, I hadn’t ever really considered the word to be an answer to anything before and didn’t understand why people prayed when they were hurting, but that day, that moment, opened my eyes to pure love. Those girls truly and deeply loved one another, which in and of itself was a crazy thing to me. I didn’t know friendships could look and sound like that where they genuinely cared for one another.
They opened up the Word and began to read. I don’t remember what they said. I don’t remember what we were even reading. I do, however, remember this message filling my head: You deserve so much more than what you are giving yourself. You’ve been searching and searching for love, and I’m the only one that can give it to you. You are cherished and you are my daughter. He told me that I was perfect to him, and that he died for all of that. He said that this was why he had come, and to stop letting my mistakes own me. He told me he had more for me if I would only trust him. I know this sounds crazy, but it felt so right. My heart reached for him in that moment. My soul came to life. God’s hand had been extended toward me for so long, and I was finally reaching back.
My life changed that day. I wasn’t immediately healed from the hurt that had piled up over the years, and the heaviness I felt didn’t all of a sudden disappear, but I finally felt something real and I wasn’t going to miss out on it. I started making life changes that felt necessary and watched as God blessed my obedience. He met me in my darkest hour and shone his light more brightly than I had ever seen. He walked with me through the hurt, and reminded me I wasn’t alone. From the beginning, God looked at me as his beautiful daughter, capable of far more than I could imagine and lovable beyond measure. Since letting Him in, I have grown to love who I am. I have embraced my identity and stopped filling my life with garbage. I have become proud of who I am, and the only person I have to thank for that is Him. God saved me from myself, from my past, from being overcome by the world, and he wants to do just that for you as well. Trust him. I promise it’s the best decision you will ever make.