if: guilt and shame

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I have battled this guilty feeling for most of my adult life. After ending a high school sweetheart relationship my first year of college and falling in love with my now husband, I found myself on the never ending roller coaster of emotions, with shame and guilt being the greatest. I felt shame because I allowed myself to fall in love while still being with someone else. I felt guilty for ruining my ex-boyfriend’s life at the time. I felt ashamed of myself for confessing true feelings for my ex and then just allowing them to crumble as if they never meant anything, though they really meant everything. Because of my actions I found myself struggling to trust others and developed ugly jealous tendencies. I brought my new boyfriend along for this ride of emotions and he never jumped off; he stuck with me. I hid these feelings all through college and afterwards and moved forward, taking all he logical steps of life: career, marriage, baby, masters degree…

Nearly 10 years after the breakup I hit rock bottom. I found myself in a deep depression and I was hating so much. The guilt and shame that was tucked away came spiraling out of control. It started with guilt of the working mom then guilt over being a terrible wife (in my opinion). And then it turned into being resentful of my husband. Nothing was making me happy and he took the brunt of it. Cue even more guilt. To deepen my shame I began the what if questions in regards to if I had chosen a different path, a different relationship. What if I had never broken up with my high school sweetheart? Ugh, how could I have such thoughts and temptations? I have a baby at home. I’ve made a life. How could I ever go back? How could I even think about hurting someone else? It turned into a sick cycle of these thoughts and fantasies that I kept to myself. To my husband it just was as if I was depressed and unhappy about work, but it was so much more. I wasn’t really sure how this was going to end, but I knew I needed something.

That’s when I saw an acquaintance post on Facebook about the If:gathering. She was so excited about it and was inviting other women to join at her church. I asked her about it. I wasn’t able to attend that weekend for whatever reason, but she sent me the links to watch at home. And I watched and I felt numbness leaving me. I didn’t understand a lot but I wanted to know more. We met up a week later to discuss the If:gathering and I. SPILLED. MY. GUTS! Right then and there I was changed. I could not deny that God and only God brought me to this girl. The similarities in our stories were chilling.

This was about 2 years ago. Since then we have become so close and she has drawn me closer the Lord through bible study, church, and friendship. I’ve been able to release this shame and guilt and see it for what it is. A gift. I am so thankful for this ugly phase of my life. I had to go through this to be brought closer to know God. If:gathering was the catalyst that triggered it for me and will always be significant. I had on my calendar for a year the dates for the 2015 if:gathering. I wasn’t going to miss it. And then God shook my life up. The day before If I had a miscarriage. I will never get over this, but because of the support of my friend and the pulling of God I was able to get through it. I attended If and fell more in love God. Had this miscarriage happened a couple years back, I would not be able to deal with this. But because I know God, I am able to use this tragic part of my life to bring Glory to God rather than lay in bed feeling shame over it.

I’m ready for God to continue working through me. I’m ready to live for God. I’m ready for August 9th, when I will be baptized with my friend by my side. I’m ready to see what If 2016 has for me.