(This is the second post in a series of three. Feel free to catch up here.)
So last post we left off with me in college, stewing in the swirling piles of wreckage and shame I’d caused, yet also covered over quite (in)sufficiently with my masks and plenty of anger…
Messy, Wrecked, and Puzzled
Shortly after turning 21, I found myself full-time busy trying to place each piece of that wrecked life into some worthwhile picture since, despite the mess I’d become, I’d somehow managed to actually graduate college. And I mean, by the skin of my teeth, since I’d skipped the majority of my last four classes that semester in what can only be described as a final, childhood act of fear-fueled, self-sabotage! So, honestly, I was as shocked as anyone to have ever passed anything.
And while I’d always half assumed I’d go on to pursue a master’s degree in counseling after graduating college, an honest dislike of school, lack of a quality GPA, and – let’s be real – the inability to get myself together, left me with little hope of that ever happening, so with the financial help and generosity of my parents, I simply hung around my college town, working part-time here and there, while figuring out next steps.
It wasn’t too long after, though, that I decided to follow my own mother’s footsteps into a banking career. Never mind that numbers are basically a foreign language for me. I liked people. So, in fairly short order I landed my first, full-time job as a teller with her same company. Then, about three months later, I decided I didn’t like that job, so quit. And by “quit”, I mean I gave no notice and just didn’t show up one day. OUCH, but I sincerely wish I didn’t have to be this open and share any of these painfully embarrassing truths to begin with!
Yet it’s all so true it hurts. And what’s even more painfully true was that I didn’t even quit because I was unhappy counting money all day. I actually quit because that bank day job clashed hard with my self-titled, night gig as a, “Live Band Groupie.” Yep. Most nights you could usually find me chasing down both dreams and new music talent with my guy of the moment, so getting up early on those mornings after, wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time. Especially on Saturdays. So, one Saturday morning, I just
quit didn’t show up.
Wait, though. It gets even worse! See, not too long after this embarrassing career lowlight, I was offered a real dream job by a sorority sister who was also a manager for my favorite clothing store. When I showed up for the interview though, which was really to be only a formality since I’d worked there before, that sweet sister was like, “Kacy, I’m so sorry. You had the job, but when I called the bank and heard what you did… I mean, I just can’t hire you now. How could you give no notice and just not show up to a job?! What were you even thinking??”
I’ll never forget the look on her face, either. I thought I knew what shame felt like, but nothing could compare to that day. Even to this day, I can’t bear to bring it up when I see her. So, if you’re reading this Sis, now you know. Because, of course, I didn’t have a good answer then! I mean, I still owed some kind of answer to my poor mother who was still employed by the very company I’d
inconveniently not showed up to.
Though, eventually, I did have to provide some answer to my her, since she drove four hours to visit me when she’d found out. Not that I’d been the one to tell her. No. She’d had to hear it from the branch manager I’d bailed on. Oh, the joys of that day. Suffice to say it was the worst mother-daughter lunch date we ever had. [Side note: My mother has never brought that up since and she has likely never been more disappointed in me than on that day. This is the unconditional love I speak of!]
Anyway, fortunately for me, it didn’t take long to realize putting the bank on my resume to begin with was probably the second worst career choice I’d ever make and quickly landed another job without disclosing the fact. Unfortunately for me, this win coincided with both the loss of that guy of the moment and the beloved nighttime gig that accompanied our time together. And so, with my mess still swirling and my heart now totally broken, I began to feel like the problem might be that I was stuck in some kind of rut and maybe becoming a flight attendant or, quite literally *flying away* might finally help me locate my truest self.
Until, in some serious first-class fashion (because that’s just how I roll, apparently), I bombed my first interview with the awesome, up and coming Southwest Airlines. Here’s a glimpse on the day, so you can have a better feel: As part of the interview process, I’m standing in a large, hotel banquet room, among a group of beautiful and beautifully eloquent people-people. And we’re all mingling and, I’m, you know, just trying to show off my best self, when suddenly this overwhelming urge to STOP TALKING ALTOGETHER comes over me. And, so I stop. Like, just quit talking. Me?!? With nothing at all to say. It was so weird. And thinking about it still hurts about as badly today as that day. So we’re done here.
And while I thankfully never quit my actual day job to crash land that badly in my pursuit of flying away, once back home, the whole experience left me reeling and feeling emptier than ever. It’s hard to explain really, but it just seemed like my life was one big, irreconcilably broken, self-damaging choice after another. And, that even though each inclination I had was always all about me, I could still never manage to get my act together or feel satisfied and settled. No answer, activity, or experience seemed to soothe my heart’s cry or fill this large void taking up residence inside my very sad soul.
So, what does a now 22 year old lonely, angry, shame-filled, unbelievably messy, plus even sadder because she can’t fly away girl, who’s still covering it all up with a grin, do when her world is falling apart you might ask?
Well, she goes dancing. Duh. I mean, who wouldn’t, right?!
Yep. On what would later become a fateful night in February, 1996, I went to a nightclub with some friends and hit that dance floor like it was a job I’d actually gotten and loved showing up to! Well, until I needed a beer and a cigarette and a rest for my legs. But Y’all, that’s when I spotted him.
***Now before you go thinking this is the HIM from the title, just don’t! This him is so not that HIM!!***
This him was certainly sauntering into the club like some kind of mythic god, though. Like the god of all good looking, athletic gods, even. Head and shoulders above the crowd and smack in the center of his own crowd. And with his tattered ball cap and high top sneakers, I watched him hit that dance floor like it was his job. And no, you didn’t misread that. He was wearing a ball cap and high top basketball sneakers in that nightclub. I may have laughed. (Honestly, not much has changed in this department, either.)
But, whatever he was wearing just didn’t matter since time may also have stood still that night. It was like the climax of movie, when everything hits sloth speed and we’re all barely breathing in anticipation of what’s to come. That was me with him. I remember immediately pointing him out to my girlfriend, too, and her saying he wasn’t her type, to which I replied, “Yeah, he’s not mine either, but…” as my voice trailed off and my eyes locked on to Mister Not-My-Type. Within seconds, I was back on that dance floor employing every
awesome move in my playbook.
[Very Important Side Note: Now, I know I’ve admitted to making many bad choices up to this point in my life, but picking up a stranger?? Yeah, well, I promise this was a one and only and one I’d never, ever recommend to any of young girls out there! I will contend that even eyeing him up in light of what was going on with me was plain dumb. Sadly though, dumb was my thing. Plus, it’s the truth, and impossible to change now, but the reason it’s included in such detail here is because it’s headed somewhere way, way better. Actually, I’m leaving out some of the best details because they’re best left to another day.]
Moving on. So there I was, dancing the night away with a complete stranger, who would way too soon become so much more. And this stranger was nothing like I’d ever known or anything like I’d ever liked. His choice of night club attire alone would’ve ordinarily been enough to scare me off. We were as different as night and day and in the weeks that followed, basically got along about as well as two toddlers trying to share the same toy. But oh, could he make me laugh! And he was so smart! Unfortunately, my heart and head were still the same broken they were the moment I saw him, so after a couple months together, it became pretty obvious we were heading towards another one of my tragic endings.
Until I awoke on a bright April morning to a pretty sobering thought and started adding up days and weeks and calculating months and figuring something was very late. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say, six pregnancy tests later, I was sitting in a chair in his apartment telling him he could have as much or as little to do with the little bundle that was now in my belly. He was, after all, still in school and I had a job, plus knew, given my family’s background, that I’d have plenty of support from them. But, as I was explaining all this to him, he walked right over to me and dropping to one knee, faced my own scared, yet determined face, and gently said, “Let’s get married, then.”
And in all honesty I was shocked he’d said that, so all I could do was choke back, “Okay.”
And that night after work (yes, I actually went), I sat in my upstairs bedroom and stared out the window and smoked a cigarette and stared some more – because news like that kinda puts you in shock – and I spoke to God for the first time in my life. Out loud, I asked Him, “Is this You?” But, just as quickly as my smoke filled question swirled and disappeared into the air, the moment passed, and I set about trying to make sense of my new reality.
And then, many more moments began to pass by in a whirl. His life filled up with stress and studying and cramming twenty credit hours of programming and crazy math classes into one summer semester, as he was now faced with an earlier than planned graduation deadline for his Computer Science/Math degrees. Mine, conversely, filled with work and days that ended by 5 pm because I couldn’t hold these eyes open for another second, plus horrible hormones and hard conversations and whole, heavy fears. In the blink of an eye, we went from a couple of inseparable, stubborn strangers on the verge of sinking, to two literal ships passing in the night, navigating our new reality in both moments together and separately.
One night of dancing led to dancing around others and their opinions and each other’s opinions. I threw a plate at him during one of these less than pleasant moments and it was a good thing those basketball shoes weren’t just for show, because he was able to dodge that ceramic missile before it hit the wall behind him, shattering into pieces on the living room floor. I was relieved (mostly) he ducked, and ashamed (still) of my behavior.
To make matters worse, as most girls do, I’d dreamed of my own version of a fairytale wedding. The perfect lake house, with its mossy, oak tree lined backyard, plus the strapless, high-low dress I’d wear so my groom could whisk me away on his Harley because I was just that cool and so was he. Think, November Rain video circa 1992. But, my dreams were dying a slow death, right there beside my size nothin’ wardrobe. And not just because he couldn’t even drive a Harley. It was because somehow the idea of marriage when you’ve already skipped way ahead felt entirely too weird and wrong, and sadly, was also coinciding with another love that was now officially ending – my parent’s marriage. So, we simply pushed forward with finding him a job and us a home to rent and put any wedding plans on the back-burner.
Until the day my OBGYN threatened to perform a wedding ceremony in a hospital room after an illness brought on my labor six weeks before our due date. My doc was very traditional, knew my mom personally, and assumed she’d be disappointed if he had to tie an umbilical cord before we ever tied the knot. So, after a stern doctor’s order to, “Get married!” and a few phone calls to some key people, I was discharged and back home, dressed in my nicest denim pregnancy romper, standing on our rental’s 70’s era brown marble carpet, with my Just-Home-From-Work Groom beside me. Before us stood a forever friend who also happened to be a registered notary and able to officiate such an event, plus the caterer and florist for the evening. Beside us was my sis and brother-in-law, bearing their very own wedding rings for us to exchange because we couldn’t afford our own. And behind us stood another of my dearest and best there for both her support and photography skills.
And as we spoke our vows and exchanged the borrowed rings, then sealed it all with a kiss, it seemed much too surreal and like history repeating itself, because we were, once again, bringing new life into a broken, yet trying to repair its own self, kind of love.
Still, our precious baby boy came into this world four weeks later and we were all overjoyed. And even more overwhelmed. It was equal parts beautiful and scary. It was also equally real, as we’d quickly jumped all in to this family gig by purchasing an old, fixer-upper. You know, because being first-time parents and newlyweds, all in the same year, wasn’t going to be hard enough.
Yet, we worked equally hard to make both our new marriage and family work, plus our new to us, but very old house, a home. Side by side, we tried hard to do what was right. Way too often, though, we just screamed and cussed and lied and tore each other apart. We loved our baby as much as we could, but we had moments when liking each other was not even an option. I expected him to be all I’d dreamed in my head a husband should be and I wasn’t shy letting him know he often missed the mark. I threw every insecurity I ever had at him (no plates, though) and he, pretty understandably, lived up to many of my fears, accusations, and characterizations.
Between the two of us, we likely did everything one could do to destroy a marriage. Yet, through it all, we somehow managed to keep laughing. And, more surprisingly, began to enjoy each other and the life we were making. And, for many of those first moments, you could say we were mostly succeeding in building our own broken, yet loving life together.
Though it turns out we weren’t exactly all alone in the building. See, shortly after buying our home, I’d
finally agreed to attend my sister’s Bible Study group. Now truthfully, I only went because she kept asking (AKA, bossing, big sister that she is!) And even now, all these years later, I’m not exactly sure what happened, but over the course of only a few weeks attending the study, as I sat on the floor of the sweet host’s home, entertaining my baby while surrounded by this circle of women talking about the Bible, something switched on inside me and I began to feel a peace I’d never really known up to that point. A love, as well.
And I always tear up at this memory, because many of those women would eventually become like literal lifelines to me, helping me navigate those next few years in ways I could’ve never imagined I’d need in those first few weeks. So much so, that to this very day, Bible Studies remain a huge part of how I walk daily with Jesus and, honestly, can’t imagine my life without one.
But in those early days? Well, those beautiful women were just talking about a man named Jesus, and I kept going back to hear more. Then I started going to their church to hear even more. And I kept listening and going and was loved on and began to love back. And Y’all, I’d never even opened a Bible to read before this time, so everything I heard was new and exciting and very quickly began to fill me with not only more of that peace from those first weeks, but also with a new feeling: HOPE. And, it was this feeling that finally seemed to revive my weary, messy, sin crushed, and hopelessly bound up soul.
And then, to my complete surprise, I found myself actually thinking about God all the time. Though many of those early thoughts were simply doubts, and so, much of my energy was spent trying to disprove Him. It all just seemed too good to be true and totally unreasonable. Yet, I couldn’t escape the peace I felt among those ladies or while hearing God’s Words spoken.
Then one day, the pastor of the church agreed to meet with me to discuss some of my (now extremely embarrassing deep) thoughts. He was his usual kind, patient, and informative self, but eventually, after one too many of my doubt-fueled questions, he spoke these nine simple, yet, clearly conversation ending words to me, “You either believe in God or you don’t, Kacy.”
And this sentence… well, it just so happened to be exactly what I needed to hear and I’m forever grateful he spoke it. Because in some reflective moments following our conversation, I simply concluded that if I just go on this thing Christians call “faith“, believing what the Bible says about this man named Jesus and I’m wrong, what could be the harm??
And so, by faith, I chose to simply believe in Jesus.
And what I’d come to understand better much later, was that this one, simple choice brought me into a whole new life found in that very God-Man named Jesus Christ. The One that I’d been hearing and learning all about. And, yes, this is The Him from our title!
And, while I can’t point to a single moment of salvation like some can, I just began to sense something was different in me. I wanted to attend church regularly and I hung on every word and clung to every song. I never knew how moved I could be by words spoken or sung. And most Sundays I would fight tears the whole service feeling like God was speaking right to me. And during this time I also prayed often to accept the salvation Jesus offered and with each passing day, I just started to see my sin more clearly and know I could never be able to reach God on my own. I began to understand and believe deeper in my heart what the Bible says about Jesus, until one day, I finally just knew that I knew He was now my only hope for any real life.
Life in Him
And Friend, this is what I still know today: There is a God, Who is One, yet part of a Triune Godhead, consisting of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. I know there is a Heaven and a Hell. I know God has always existed and that He is Holy. I know I was created and, because I was born of Adam and Eve, am not holy. I know that His Son came to live the sinless life I cannot and that if I no longer want to be enemies with or separated from Him, I have to put my faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on my behalf. And I know that all those moments of learning about God, led me to confess with my mouth that Jesus is LORD and that my body of flesh is now a home for the promised Holy Spirit. I also know that at the moment of my salvation an exchange happened and I died to my old life, was reborn and raised again into His new life, while also being washed clean by His blood, forgiven, and set free from the guilt of my old life of sin and the punishment required by a Holy God, plus any shame and fear. And, finally, I know that I was adopted and made God’s child forever, complete with the same inheritance as Jesus, plus a promised hope and a future and a purpose beyond anything I can still even understand. (Please message me if you’d like to talk about this further.)
My heart was now finally home and my journey in Jesus Christ had begun. In Him was where I felt alive. In Him was where my freedom lied. In Him was the promise of new life. In Him I knew I would survive. By the way, I’d be the absolute last to judge if you felt the need to to sing your best Gloria Gaynor here. I’d probably just dance. Poorly.
And this newly found life was mostly so wonderful. Especially the times spent in God’s presence. I was still me, living in the broken world I’d created, but I finally had a hope in something bigger than myself.
Before this time, I can’t even recall having feelings of hope. Certainly not in any larger sense. I’d hoped in people and experiences, but never in something not created or lasting or outside of my comprehension. And I felt like this new hope finally filled the empty void that seemed to haunt me with the peace I’d been looking for all along. And the best part was, for the first time in the longest time, I no longer felt lonely.
And for a long time, that was good enough for me. And it seemed like I couldn’t get enough of living this new life in Christ. I loved the people and enjoyed serving and looked forward to retreats and Christian events. I actually enjoyed listening to worship music and sermons and the study of theology and was always involved in at least one Bible Study.
And for roughly fifteen years, I continued on this path. I was loving God just like I loved my family and my friends: A whole heck of a lot.
And, yet, it would turn that I was also loving Him, wholly too little.
Because, and see, somehow it took me all of fifteen years to understand this(!), I honestly wasn’t loving God really at all. Sure, I loved what He provided for me: a promise of eternity in Heaven; the peace during times of worship and fellowship; His many, many blessings; and, especially His forgiveness, plus never ending grace and mercy!
I was really good at loving those gifts, actually. However, and again, for whatever reason, it simply never dawned on me anywhere along the way that I needed to love the Person of God even more. You know, The actual Giver of all those good and gracious gifts of provision and love!
Because, truth is, all gifts are intended to point us to the giver, anyway. In this case, to Jesus, anyway! God’s gifts were never, ever intended to be the point in and of themselves. Unfortunately though, I now believe I was holding on to those gifts, plus way too many other things from my old life, to ever really see this. To ever truly understand this.
I had – once again, it seemed – attempted to bring this new life of mine, now In Jesus Christ, into a broken, yet trying to repair its own self, kind of love.
Why would I ever, though? Well, this answer is simple enough: I never took God at His Word! Unfortunately, breaking all that down isn’t quite as simple, though I attempt to in the final part of My Story – Through Him. I’d be blessed beyond measure if you checked it out ❤
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
… remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.Ephesians 2:4-6, 12-17, 19-22