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No Matter How Messy

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Growing up, like most teenage girls my world revolved around what others thought of me.  I morphed into whatever group of people I was with or person I was dating. My hobbies were that of the boy I liked, along with the music I listened to and artists I followed. I even failed a course in college, because the guy I liked had lunch at a different time than I did so I regularly skipped my class to be near him.  

After college I was working in a bar in Broadripple. This is where my lack of identity began to make a huge impact on my life.  I was lost in a culture that drinks for every occasion. I was partying all the time, spending every dollar I made out in the bar.  I was lost.  Then life took a nosedive. In a little over a year's time I had tragedy striking at every corner. I was drugged and raped one night when I was out. Then I found one of my dearest friends after he committed suicide. My sister was pregnant with a child that would never live after she was born and both of my grandfathers passed away. I was at an all time low and life was spiralling out of control quickly.

I began searching for hope and a way out of all the pain, guilt and grief I was experiencing.  I grew up going to church. Most of my life church was just something you were supposed to do, not something that made any real difference in my life. Church was about making you feel good. 

I joined the young adult community at E91 in search of people who believed in something more. Even though I was attending church I was still struggling. I was still morphing into whatever group I was with. I was one person at church and another at the bar.  I met my now husband in the young adult life group I was a part of.  I was infatuated from day one. I knew I wanted to be with Zach and sacrificed boundaries and held tight hoping he would stay with me. 

We found out we were pregnant about four months after knowing each other. I struggled with guilt and shame. All of the sudden these two worlds I was living in came crashing together. Telling my parents, our life group and church leadership was terrifying but at every turn I was experiencing grace and love.  I was reminded of how Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery to do harm but God intended it for good. God used their sins to make something beautiful and God was going to do that with this new baby too. 

We decided to get married three months later and trusted that because we both were seeking to live for Christ and were committed to each other, God would grow our marriage and give us the strength we needed to be who He created us to be.


After one of the hardest first years of marriage I could imagine, God taught me something that would change me forever.  I was on the phone with my mother talking about the new confidence I was finding in our marriage and in my relationship with Zach.  I had spent my whole life with a death grip on things and people that I was afraid of losing. Now I was feeling free, I knew that no matter what Zach and I came up against, no matter how hard it got, he wasn’t going to leave.  We were going to walk through it all together.  Then my mom said something that would change my relationship with God forever; “Sara, do you realize that is what God has been calling you to in your relationship with Him your whole life?” It was so simple it was crazy to me. God wants to be in a relationship with me no matter how messy I get, how many times I screw up, He isn’t going to leave.  I don’t have to work to keep Him? The thought changed everything for me.  I could be secure in the relationship I have with God.  The freedom that came with that thought, I was suddenly able to breathe in a new way.  Think about the confidence that comes with knowing the creator of the universe loves me all because I simply put my faith in Him and trust Him.  

Ephesians 2:8 changed my life, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this in not from yourselves, it is the gift from God”. It was no longer about what I was doing, how hard I held on or worked but I just simply needed to place my faith in the Father who loved me and all of my mess.

Posted by Sara Shetterley with

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