finding worth in Jesus' love

Many people can recall a specific day, a specific hour even, when they handed their life over to Christ. I can't do that. I saw glimpses of who Jesus was as a child. I was introduced to Him by my mom and I saw how much she wanted to honor God. But being sexually abused by my father unfortunately greatly confused my childhood faith. I didn't tell anyone until it was obvious what had happened to me. My parents then divorced. And I haven't seen my father since.

I was filled with a great deal of shame. I never stopped believing in God. Rather, I stopped believing God and what He had to say about me. I no longer felt like a child and I no longer saw Him as my Father. Because of my skewed belief system, life was rather dark for me for a while after I was abused. My life was filled with sin and me trying to fill a giant hole in my heart with anything I could find, including breaking the rules, alcohol, and boys. Here’s a shocker: None of it worked.

I re-acknowledged my faith in Jesus and put my full trust in him during a college study abroad trip, but I didn’t believe God immediately. It wasn’t until I married James in 2012 that I began to take God at His word. Quite honestly, up until I got married I believed that my worth was dependent mostly on the ungodly "sacrifice" of my body. But God’s love for me and my worth aren’t dependent on how I relate to men but how Jesus relates to me.

Our first year of marriage was one of the most difficult years of my life, but I also believe that it was the most fruitful. I began to write down my story and share it with other women and I saw God use my pain for the benefit of others. I went from a severely insecure girl to a mature and confident woman.

My faith journey continues to be about believing God. Any time I struggle with sin it isn’t because I’ve stopped believing that Jesus died for my sins; rather, I’ve stopped believing that God loves me. That sounds contradictory—it is. I think that’s why faith has to be about heart and not just the facts and head knowledge. I’ve learned that I can’t just know that Jesus died for me. I also have to continue to believe in the deep and desperate love that his death signifies.

KARA RODRIGUEZ