Tell It. We all have a "before" story. What is yours?
Have you ever wondered what your "church friends" would think of you if they really knew you? What if they knew who you used to be before you turned your life around or at minimum started behaving better in public?
I believe that there is an underlying tension in many churches between being "good" Christians and being real. I feel it all the time. It's that disapproving look when I say something that really is funny but isn't as vanilla as it should be. Sometimes it's the gasp and wide-eyed stare when I talk about something I did in college. By the reactions of some people, you'd think that they are on the fast track to sainthood.
I truly believe that I was an average American teenager and young adult. We weren't a church going family. My grandmother took my sisters and me to church or I went with my cousin. We never went as a whole family. My life probably modeled what most kids face and compared to a lot of my peers, my choices weren't that bad. I didn't smoke or try drugs. I avoided the wrong side of the law. But I'm sure that there are plenty of events that would be frowned upon.
Especially during high school I was searching for a place to be accepted. I needed to find something to be a part of. I found soccer until I hurt my knee. I found show choir which wasn't always the best social influence or moral compass. I even found an active church youth group which had it's own set of questionable aspects. The summer before my senior year I started dating my now husband. He was a large part of changing my "before." He helped me to realize that I could be me and he would love me. I didn't have to try to be someone different to win his affection.
Our "before" is part of who we are. If we didn't have "befores" we wouldn't need grace. If we could be perfect and sinless, Christ's sacrifice would be for nothing. How great is our God who can cover all our sins no matter how big or small!
Ephesians 2:8 " For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God"