“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
My break from ministry did not last long; after about eight months, I found another job in youth ministry and moved closer to DC. I thought things were turning around…I was starting to settle down a bit. But something still was not right. I was not happy in youth ministry. Perhaps I was burnt out; perhaps youth ministry was not for me. Whatever the reason, I was searching for community and had yet to find it. I left that ministry job after a few years and moved to another church in the same county. Meanwhile, a ministry friend invited me to attend a young adult Bible study that her new pastor had started. I ended up not only attending the Bible study but leading the worship band at her church while still serving as the youth minister at another. However, like they always had, things fell apart at my youth ministry job, and I was once again searching for what to do with my life. I applied for the worship pastor position at my friend’s church (now my church) and didn’t get it; thus, I continued to struggle with what God was asking me to do. After a few weeks in Phoenix to settle my brain, I took the first job I was offered at a data company back in Maryland.
In the next year, my life exploded as I was imploding emotionally. I had a terrible fight with my pastor and left my church and worship leadership position abruptly. I decided to stop talking to my family altogether. I was really struggling to make sense of my life. I hated my job, my family, and my life. And then, I began attending a young adult ministry at a nearby church and I met him. He was an incredible man…my total opposite, perhaps, in that he was sensitive and compassionate in great contrast to my brash honesty. I was attracted to him like a moth to a flame. He was good looking and funny, and I just wanted to be around him. Our friendship was filled with pain and confusion, though, mostly because he was the first God-honoring man I had ever been attracted to and, thanks to my warped porn-and-lust-addicted mind, I had no idea how to treat him. Even though we had admitted a mutual attraction existed, I was (unbeknownst to me) completely un-dateable. I wanted so badly to have someone love me in the ways I had never been loved that I pushed and pushed…until finally, I pushed him away for good. I was broken, and for the first time in my life, I knew it. The day after our friendship ended, I attended my first Celebrate Recovery meeting.
One lesson I learned from my fourth eight is to never underestimate where the desire for true love, acceptance, and intimacy will take you. My longing had taken me to many worldly places—pornography, partying, fantasy, and deeper into myself. However, the longing was never truly filled, and in the end, the pain of staying the same—always losing relationships and jobs—became too much for me to bear. I knew where to find true acceptance and love—I had known since I was eight years old—but I had not been willing to surrender my pride to the pain of changing for the better. I had never TRULY surrendered my issues to God because of my need for control. But in the fourth eight, everything changed. I wanted to know true love and I wanted to know how to love—and the only way I could find those things was to run straight into the arms of the Author of love, who was waiting to heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds.
Where has the longing for true love, acceptance, and intimacy taken you?