So, you’ve been reading what’s been in my heart the past three months and I thought it was about time you got to know me a bit more.
I grew up in a Christian home with first generation Christian parents. I went to church on Sunday mornings and spent my youth days playing chubby bunny and sardines at Bible study. I became overly involved, as youth group seemed like one of the only acceptable activities for me to be a part of in my teen years.
Unfortunately, this didn’t benefit me the way my parents were hoping it to. Meeting after meeting, I ended up viewing Christianity as a boring, repetitive, behavioral interaction, not a relationship.
In college I studied music as a Vocal Performance Major. I eventually wanted to travel the world as one of America’s most talented, leading lyrical sopranos. The goal was to perform Operas by night and then sneak into jazz bars late in the evening to enjoy myself in a less-stressful environment. I gave a lot to that dream: hours of practice, stressful college semesters. I even became extremely anorexic, so I could look and sing the part. That dream didn’t come to be. I should have known that any dream with the goal of performance would have an expiration date.
After college didn’t work out, my identity was destroyed. Everything I had worked so hard to accomplish was thrown in the trash. The tools I had learned as a kid, like hard work, self-reliance, isolation… those didn’t help me. So naturally, I looked for acceptance in others. This threw me into an extremely dysfunctional relationship, in which I exchanged my old tools for a set of new ones: victimization, cowardice, fear, and anxiety, all while shame was slowly stealing my dreams and peace. It’s hard to imagine someone, as strong-willed and independent as I was, willfully involved in a relationship with physical and emotional abuse. But I was. It’s amazing how someone who hasn’t experienced peace in such a long time will justify why their life is chaotic, as if they didn’t miss it at all. However, being manipulated and living in fear day after day breeded more shame in my life. I became so miserable that even in the face of death, I didn’t have a will to live.
But then I had something to live for. I became pregnant with my daughter. Survival rose up in me, and I finally grew desperate… for her sake. Desperation led me to stand up for myself and walk away from the situation as well as the fear I had agreed to live in. To my surprise, leaving him wasn’t the end of my life (like he had threatened), it was just the beginning.
Painfully broke, new baby, mortgage payments, worthless tools, everything about life at that time seemed so unhealthy and desperate. But I knew that me being alive was in itself a miracle. My heart was primed and ready to receive the kindness of the Lord. I remember vividly the night the Holy Spirit spoke over me 2 Corinthians 5:17- that the old things had passed away, and He was making me a new creation. That meant I didn’t have to perform any more. That meant I could lean on Him, that I did not have to do everything on my own. That meant freedom to dream again about the life I wanted to live and the kinds of things I wanted to do. Instead of giving myself to fear and captivity, I could give myself to love and freedom.
It was not long after this Papa God showed me how good He is at exchanging beauty for our shame. Ian and I started dating and he treated both Aria and me with such dignity and love; it was like breathing for the first time. Since then, I have experienced the transformation of living as a servant of God, to having a friendship with Him. The last couple of years of my life have been beautiful, as Jesus has replaced all of my bad tools for good ones: like freedom, love, grace, joy, and understanding. There’s no need to perform or pretend, truth is liberating.
Do you have a similar story, when you were met by the love and kindness of Jesus in a way that forever changed your life? Please share with us!!
Redefined By Grace,
Born and raised in Southern California, Christina Andriese currently lives in Murrieta, CA with her husband of 10 years, Ian, and their three incredible children – Aria, Ethan and Luke.
Christina loves to take in any and every opportunity to connect with people’s hearts and to encourage them to become the best version of themselves. Her dream is to see the church awaken to her full potential – to see humanity walk in freedom – ignited by hope, empowered to dream, and equipped to operate out of the resurrection power that Jesus provides!
When she isn’t homeschooling, being a chauffeur, ministering or working, Christina enjoys napping, going to the beach and reading.
See her posts here: https://herroar.com/author/christinaandriese/