The Girl from Total Darkness
by Rachel Craddock, Guest Writer
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”.
After the death of my mother, I became deeply wound up in shame. Through my tangled-up desire to appear tough and strong, I became rebellious. I struggled with addiction that helped me temporarily escape my pain. This did not make me very popular with the Christian kids in my high school. Many of the nice kids were told by their parents to stay away from me and my bad influences.
In my woundedness, I began to believe lies that because of my depression, shame, and addiction, Christian families didn’t like me. These lies then turned into vows: “I will never be good enough to be a Christian, so therefore I vow I will never be a Christian.” My shame was fertile soil for these wounds, lies, and vows to become deeply woven threads in my story.
When I left my hometown for college, I desired to run as far away from my old self as I could. In college, I believed I could correct my behaviors rooted in rebellion and embrace a new identity. Yet because of shame, no matter how much I tried to clean up my outward behaviors, inwardly I never felt whole. My wounds, lies, and vows were ever-present in every corner of my heart.
In 2004, even with my self-made belief that I could never be good enough for God and his Church, God radically changed my life. Ephesians 2 was the verse that freed me from needing to be good enough, for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast(Ephesians 2:8-9). As part of the redemption story that God was writing for me, in 2006 I found myself married to a man who was called to pursue a seminary degree, with the hope to one day pastor a church. I deeply believed the truth, for it is by grace you are saved, not your works, but I still reverted to the patterns I had learned after the death of my mother. I felt deep shame inwardly, remembering the darkness of my past, but outwardly I tried to put on a brave face—and play the part of my “new identity” well.
As we met new couples at seminary, with my feet very firmly still planted in shame and fear, I slowly shared what I thought would be safe and acceptable when it came to my past and my story. I was insecure at every step and every word. One particular time, I remember the woman sitting across from me said, "Wow, so you are from like… total darkness." I wasn't sure how to respond. Like from total darkness. Total darkness, even though I was trying to put on a brave face and wear my new identity mask well, I was the girl from total darkness. In that moment tangled-up in fear and drowning in words, I felt like the only person in the entire world who was from total darkness. My feet firmly planted into the soil of fear and shame. These words overwhelmed me and became woven around my identity.
When it comes to identity, it is impossible to hit the reset button and forget about the places you come from. God created each person and each story uniquely for His glory. We have to look back into our pasts and see where we have come from with the redemptive eyes of Jesus. We have to embrace our Christ-centered identity and see His redemption in the entire story. His grace is enough and there is so much beauty when we recognize that He takes people from total darkness and crowns them with His glory, simply because of His mercy and grace. God is redeeming His people and transforming the places where they feel shame. God is making all things new. It is so easy to clean up the outward behaviors. I easily gave up the addictive behaviors. The hard work in the Christian life is the heart-work of unraveling the wounds, lies, and vows that shape a person’s story.
A Christian must be able to read Ephesians 2:1-9 through the lens of God’s entire redemptive story. Yes, we once walked according to the powers of this world, some of us tangled up in wounds, lies, and vows. But God, being rich in mercy, when we were dead and not searching for God at all, made us alive. This is His gift of grace. We are His workmanship, and He is not just redeeming our outward behaviors. God wants to redeem us from the inside out. God wants to unravel the wounds, lies and vows tangled up in our identity. I am not worthy, but God has made me worthy, just as He makes us all worthy. We are all a part of His body—even girls from total darkness—our new identity is Christ in us; this is a gift of grace we must open up and treasure each morning. His grace is enough.
Lord, help me see myself the way You see me in Christ. In Christ, I have a new identity and You are making me new, by Your grace and for Your glory. Give me Christ-confidence as I embrace the redemptive story You are writing for me.
Rachel Craddock, a writer and speaker, serves as Regional Advisor of Women's Ministry to Mid-America for the PCA. She desires to encourage women in a relatable way to practically apply the gospel to their daily lives, and have a relationship with the God who unravels the old to make us new in the redemptive blood of Jesus. When she is not busy serving in her community as a substitute teacher in the public schools or parenting her four fun children Ezra (10), Asher (8), Caleb (7), and Lydia Jane (5), Rachel enjoys reading, dark roast coffee, trail running, traveling, date nights, and blogging. She and her family are members of North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio where her husband serves as lead pastor. You can connect with Rachel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,or on her blog, rachelcraddock.com
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