As many teenage girls do, the second I (Mattie, right) got to High School I became boy obsessed, and I experimented … a lot, with drinking and a wide variety of drugs. A lot of my High School days were spent partying between different groups, and waking up remembering nothing. Why? I wanted other peoples’ approval and most of all I wanted to escape my life in this world.
It was for THAT reason, my friends at the time convinced me to go to church with them. They were right. I needed hope. During my senior year of High School, I gave my life to Christ. I realized that his death on the cross represented my only hope for a better life, a better one than I had designed for myself.
Still, the self-hatred for all my wasted years began to catch up with me. I hated myself for the reckless teenage daughter I was and I began to look to others and specifically my boyfriend for fulfillment. I wanted his approval more than anything in the world and became addicted to the little he gave. It didn’t work. Instead I fell into two full years of emotional and physical abuse.
My relationship with my boyfriend eventually ended and I felt completely lost. My entire sense of worth came from him… so at that point my only option was to turn back to God. I had to figure out God’s love for me as well as how to love him back. But I didn’t know where to start. That was when God began chasing after me.
During the Spring break of 2012, I went to a conference called Big Break. At Big Break you get to hear good messages from great speakers and are given the chance to talk with others about following Jesus. It all happens in Panama City, FL. Party Central.
I sat in the audience at Big Break listening to the speaker describe God’s love. He spoke of Jesus and how he washed his followers’ feet. That picture made so much sense to me. Jesus got down on the floor, on his knees, to wash his followers dirty, nasty feet! They didn’t deserve this or earn it. Rather, this was how much he loved them.
We woke up the next morning, and went to talk with people on the beach. As I was sitting in the sun with two of my friends, I saw a girl start stumbling. She was hopelessly drunk and could have fallen flat on her face at any moment. I sprang to my feet to help her. She had cuts on her hands, sand all over her face, and vomit streaked throughout her hair. Her name was Sydney. My heart broke for her. My friends and I helped her back to her room. She kept asking me why I was helping her. She had so much sadness in her eyes… and she was nearly in tears about what was happening to her. In her weary eyes I saw a lot of my own pain and someone who was leading the same life as myself. The only answer I had for her was… “Because God loves you, I do too… And you were made for more than this!”
I was Sydney at one point in my life. And all these years I’ve felt guilt for it. I have never felt good enough for anyone or anything, and willingly took on hurt and pain because I felt like that’s what I deserved. I’ve been in her place, looking for approval from all the wrong places. Trapped. I didn’t think anyone could ever really love me.
As I looked at Sydney, I realized that in the same way Jesus washed his followers feet he also washes us. He loves us no matter if we’re covered in dirt, sand, or vomit. He got down on his knees and washed all our feet even though we didn’t deserve it.
My worth and clear hope is found in how much God loves me, that by him getting down on his knees to cleans me, He made me worthy in his eyes. It doesn’t matter what your past held, or what you are currently like… if Jesus were here, he’d get down on this floor, with a gentle smile, and wash your feet.