The blog post title here pretty much says it all. I wanted to combine this topic, as both have made a life-changing impact in my life. I would not be who I am, or where I am if not for either.
I want to break down a few barriers and let people see a different side of me – a vulnerable side, for lack of better words. My life has been anything but normal. As I recently joked, I’m not sure I would know “normal” if it walked up next to me on the street. You know what? I’m actually okay with that. My philosophy is that God created each and every one of us to be different. He didn’t make us all drones for a reason. He had a plan in mind. Those who see themselves as less than perfect – He sees as His creation, whom He made with a plan and a purpose.
I haven’t always felt that way, or grasped tightly to that as a solid truth in my own life. I won’t lie. Life has not always been that stereotypical bed of roses. There have been so many ups, and so many downs – with emotions all across the board at times. Does this make me broken? No, I’m standing on the reality that it makes me human.
I said all that to give you a glimpse into what makes me well, me – but also to bring you to a point in my life I found myself – and how my local church in connection with Christian radio has made such a lasting and life-changing impact on my life.
There was a point where I found myself at a crossroads, with many potentially life-altering decisions at hand. Truth be told, I had found myself at a fairly dangerous place. I came to realize that I had become content living the status quo – having given up that things would or even could ever be any different. It was hard because I was having trouble seeing the virtual light at the end of the tunnel.
I was at a place mentally that I was struggling to love myself and also struggling to understand how anyone else, let alone the creator of the entire universe could love me so unconditionally. At one point, I was in my car driving far from home – after what had been a very trying and heartbreaking week. I was in a city not my own, unsure of so many things. I wanted desperately to believe there was more to life than what I had staring me in the face at that moment.
As I was driving, I felt like I needed a mental distraction. I needed something to take my mind off of the thoughts I could not convince to leave. So, I turned on the radio, and came across a Christian station. It was as if God reached out through the radio and grabbed me by the heart. He wanted to remind me that He cared – and that He loved me with an intense love – just because I was His child. The song that melted my heart that day was “Beautiful” by the band Mercy Me. The first verse says, “Days will come when you don’t have the strength – When all you hear is you’re not worth anything – Wondering if you ever could be loved – And if they truly saw your heart, they’d see too much…You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You are made for so much more than all of this. You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful. You are treasured, you are sacred. You are His. You’re beautiful….Praying that you have the heart to fight – ‘Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight – For all the lies you’ve held inside so long – They are nothing in the shadow of the cross….” and it goes on. But, I think you can see (just by reading the lyrics) how life changing and how God centered these lyrics are. They reached out and touched me exactly where I was, at exactly the moment I needed Him the most.
Had I not been prompted (no doubt by the Holy Spirit) to turn on the radio when I did, I’m not sure what would have become of that moment. I did though, and was blessed more than there were words to say. What is really amazing, though, is that the radio station I was listening to that day is completely listener supported. Their supporters make it so hurting people everywhere can be blessed and get a taste of His love – sometimes at some pretty dark moments. I’m grateful to everyone who supports Christian radio because it makes it available for all of us who need it. I’m not alone in needing to hear the words of songs just like that.
Right around this same “season” in my life, I decided to attend a church just a few miles from my house actually. I had passed by the church hundreds of times, and seen signs for it regularly. I always had a mental note to “one day” go there. I have no idea why that Sunday was the time that became “it” to go, but it was. It was strong on my heart to go. I didn’t know why, but I decided to go. When I first approached the doors, I was apprehensive. What I was met with, however, would come to also change my life forever. Put simply, it was love. God’s love. As I walked in, I was greeted with a smile and some warm and welcoming individuals. What struck me most was the ability to walk in and not feel like just another number. I felt like a valued guest, like someone they cared about. They had no idea what brought me through the doors that day, and they weren’t concerned. They knew I had a story (just as everyone does) and loved me for me. They didn’t have an agenda, and they welcomed me (and anyone) to come just as I was.
Again, I wanted so desperately to fit in – to be a part of something more. I didn’t want to feel like that outsider, looking in. I wanted to believe that there was more to life than the perpetual roller coaster it felt like I was on. I wanted to cling to the thought that there was a God who loved me unconditionally – and that, no matter where I was, or what brought me to the place I was at, He’d love me still the same. The people at church acted as the hands and feet of Jesus, but in human form. As I went the next time, I still really wasn’t okay. Mentally, I was in a dark place. As I was getting ready to leave, a member of the church leadership took the time to just simply ask how I was doing. I told him that I didn’t really know – that the jury was still out on that one. I was prepared to leave it at that. However, instead of leaving it at that and just going on with the day, he stopped and asked what was going on. Since he was a complete stranger, I wasn’t really all that comfortable just opening up and sharing my life. He understood. He wasn’t as concerned with what brought me through the doors that day, as much as how the church could help. He asked what they could do that would make a difference. What he didn’t know was what a difference just that small gesture made. God reached out in love through the people at church that day – at such a pivotal point in my life.
There was a point that I felt just broken, almost beyond repair. Through it all, and through the people God placed in my life, He picked up the pieces. Even when I felt as if my heart had shattered in about a thousand little pieces, I knew that all the pieces were in His hands. I was learning slowly, but surely how much the creator of the entire universe loved and cared about me.
The entire message I am trying to bring home is that Christian radio has the potential of meeting a need and ministering to such a diverse group of people spanning such a huge geographical area. Conversely, the local church is vital to any community. Without it, there would be so many more lost and hurting people. I can sincerely say I have no idea where I would be today if not for God’s love reaching out through both.