Monday, April 29, 2013

One of My Most Selfish Acts...

During my 20s, I was addicted to partying. I was addicted to fun, and social events, and being around people, and not always people who were good for me. We would literally work a shift a work (I was a waitress), then spend almost all the money we made going out after work, that same day. I still don't know how I paid bills. Oh wait, I didn't always pay bills. I just wanted to be free, to do what I wanted to do, go where I wanted to go, buy what I wanted to buy, and live where I wanted to live. I didn't care about consequences, I didn't heed the warnings of my parents or consider their feelings. I certainly didn't care what God had to say. There were many times I just took off on my own, then after I had made enough horrible choices and I needed someone to bail me out, I would call my mom and dad for help.

When I was 19, I just decided I was going to move out of my parents' house and in with some friends from work. I literally moved my stuff out and didn't even tell my parents where I was going or what I was doing. They came home one day, and I was gone. It was a really horrible time in my life. And a horrible time in my family's life. As a result of my bad choice, it really put turmoil into my family. And while I was off, "living it up," I started to realize that this living-on-my-own business wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. I missed my parents, who were barely speaking to me at the time (justifiably so) and my sisters, who were in their senior year of high school and I wasn't getting to see. That was one of the worst few months of my life, one of those painful memories that's really hard for me to admit now. In my family now, we joke about "the time that Jenna moved out and didn't tell anyone," but it's hard for me to think about just how truly selfish I was. As time went on, I just really started making a mess of things. I hid my rent money in my room once and couldn't find it, and I was struggling to pay the rest of my bills. I was at the end of my pitiful rope, both emotionally and financially. Without any other options, I called my parents and apologized, said I missed them, then we talked about the situation I was in. Did they tell me I couldn't come home? No. Did they accept me back with open arms? Yes. Not only that, but my mom told me that she would have a garage sale (of her stuff, by the way) and if I got up and organized it and worked it, I could keep the money to put towards things I needed to pay for. I was astonished. I didn't expect that, at all. I was ready to grovel, to plead, to be told I wasn't welcome back in their house. But, that's not what happened.

This wasn't the only time I would do something like this during the next decade of my life. Yet, every time, my parents just came to my rescue and helped me, even though they didn't have to. We started a Bible study and one of the passages we were asked to read was Luke 11:15-20. I started reading and just couldn't believe how similiar this story was to so many times of my life. Jesus tells the story of two sons who begged their rich father to give them their inheritance before he died. One son took the money and went to the city. He partied it up and went through every penny he had and couldn't even afford to feed himself. Desperate, he was going to go back to his father's house and offer to work as a servent, so he could eat. When he returned home, his father was so excited to see him and welcome him back. He didn't have to work as a servent, his father was just glad for him to be home.

Of course, this story illustrates our relationship with God. We all go away from him and do things on our own. When we decide we can't do it anymore and fail, He always welcomes us back. But in this particular case, this story, word for word, illustrates the love my parents have for me. I was so humbled reading this story, it brought tears to my eyes. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the mercy they showed to me when I needed it most and deserved it least. I know they know how grateful I am, but I really felt God tugging my heart to tell that story.

This just shows: our Bible is not just some old, irrelevant "story book." It's almost amazing how, if you really start to read it the stories and words in that book are just as relevant and necessary today as they were 2,000 years ago. If you aren't reading it daily, try. You will be amazed at what you would learn!

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