At first, the men I loved showered me with the attention and affection I craved. But eventually they would tire of me and toss me aside like an old rag.

I felt important when I had men’s attention. When I dated, I devoted myself to them. I would fix meals for them, hang on their every word, buy them unexpected presents, and generally treat them like kings. Like a well-trained puppy, I followed men around and went along with just about anything they wanted to do. As a result, I became an immoral woman.

Despite my devotion to men, they quickly left me behind when they had gotten all they wanted. It hurt to think I was loved and then so surely and suddenly rejected. “Why do the people I love leave me?” I asked my mother once. But I knew of no other way to be loved.

I was frequently taken to church and religious events while I was growing up, but the messages didn’t sink in. I even went forward, twice, at a revival and crusade. But once the emotion of the moment was gone, I was the same person I always was. There was no real change in me. As a result, I went through life giving only occasional thought to God, like calling out to him in an “emergency.” To me, that usually meant being deserted by a man.

One day I sat in a park, depressed over my latest man-related miseries. I was making a gift for a man who said he was in love with me.

But if he loves me, I thought, why doesn’t he call me more often? Why is he so aloof, so distant? Why did he withdraw his marriage proposal? Why does he want to see other women? Still, I sat on the bench making a gift, hoping it would help earn his devotion.

Then I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in years. As we talked, my troubles became obvious to her. She knew God could help me, she said, as he had helped her. She suggested I attend a Bible conference in a nearby city with her, and to my amazement, I agreed to go.

At the conference, I felt a mixture of depression and rebellion. “Are you trying to tell me God is in control of everything?” I defiantly asked one leader. I certainly didn’t feel he was.

Despite my defiance, I stayed at the conference, and one message finally sank in. I don’t recall the exact words; I only remember the teacher talked about immorality and God’s disapproval of it. “Do not be deceived,” the Bible says. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

I felt guilty. I was involved in an immoral relationship at that very time. I became acutely aware that I was a sinner – that my lifestyle offended God, and I was answerable to Him for it.

When the conference speaker said those who wanted God’s forgiveness from sin could find it through Jesus Christ, I wanted it! “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23). There was nothing I could do to make up for all the things I’d done wrong. But Christ had died to pay the penalty for my sins. I admitted to God I was a sinner and accepted His free gift of forgiveness by trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the penalty for all my sins and get me into heaven.

From that day on, my life was different. Christ was my constant companion.

I could “hear” Christ speaking to me in new thoughts. I could no longer lie and commit other sins without being bothered by it.

One day, after I had been wearing a tight T-shirt and short shorts, the thought came to me: “If you want to be treated like a lady (which I did), then you should dress like one.” It was a gentle and sensible thought that I knew came from Jesus. Imagine the God of the universe caring about what I wore!

Besides changing my attire, Christ began changing my desires about men. Instead of wanting to follow a man, I wanted to follow Christ. On a date with one handsome man, for instance, I was tempted to be immoral again. This time, however, I said no instead of following the man’s suggestive lead. When my date asked, “Why not?” I told him, “Because the Bible says not to.” He took me home and never asked me out again. But I wasn’t devastated by rejection as I would have been without Christ. I knew I had done what was right; that mattered more.

As I made more choices like that, an unexpected thing happened: I gained dignity and self-respect. Living life as God meant it to be protected me from being used and rejected. Because of the love Christ showed me, I learned to like myself. I learned I was a unique creation of God. I began to feel important as a person – even without a man giving me his attention.

That’s not to say I never got lonely. There were many times I felt I had no one to turn to. But when I cried out for help and poured out my feelings of frustration and anger and loneliness, Jesus Christ was always there. The Lord who loves me will never reject me. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” He has said (Heb. 13:5). His love for me will last forever.

Brooke Ball, MOODY Monthly

 

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