I can only hope that my story can be a testimony to others and give them hope that no matter where they are, or how lost or hopeless they may feel, God can turn it all around. He cares about every aspect of your life, and if you give your life to him, he will turn it into something marvelous. There is still hope, and it's never too late.
My graduation this week was my first tie ever in a cap and gown. I graduated high school on time and with my class, however I didn't go to the reception because I was 8 months pregnant with my oldest son. It had always bothered me that I missed my chance to be in a cap and gown. The smart kid, the gifted honor student- the one everyone expected to be in a cap and gown, was one of the only ones who wasn't. It was something that honestly embarrassed and haunted me my entire life. God knew it, and he made it right this past week. Not only did I get to wear a cap and gown, but I graduated with honors- while running a full time ministry, taking care of a two year old, and juggling my husband's hectic schedule. I truly believe God let me get to where I am so that I wouldn't be embarrassed anymore. He wanted to restore my past, and give me beauty for ashes, and he did.
I have been told multiple times this week that I am an inspiration. The truth is, I am nothing. It's all God. He's the one who took this hopeless, lost, pitiful life and turned it into something beautiful. He is the God of redemption, the God of restoration, and the God on second, third, and 100th chances. And he can do it for anybody. Anyone can have the same ending as I do. No matter how bad the beginning is, there is always hope for it to turn around if you are breathing. How you finish is what matters. And with God on your side, I promise that your ending will be better than you ever imagined. Despite your mistakes, your bad choices, and your wrong turns- God has a plan for your life. Your dead dreams can be resurrected by God's power.
My uncle read the following at my after-graduation celebration dinner. It is a speech by Nelson Mandela. I thought it was a very fitting choice for the occasion:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”