Clean.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

- 2 Corinthians 5:17

As followers of Christ, we're literally a new creation. The old is gone, and we are made new. Our identity is different than previous to following Jesus. This is vital for me to remember. 

My identity without Jesus was so messed up. I love that because of his love for me and nothing of myself, I get to be a new person. I get a fresh start, a clean slate, a new "me."

I was baptized and gave my life to Christ in the seventh grade. However, as teenage emotions set in, I began pursuing whatever it was that I wanted. These desires always had good intentions... "If I date that person, I can fix them." "I want my parents to be proud of me." "I want to feel loved." But (of course) nothing satisfied; nothing I chased outside of God comforted me, because it wasn't Him. Most of what I chased led to destruction and not happiness, and continually led me down the path to depression.

When Chris and I started dating one of the hardest things for me was realizing that I didn't have to chase him. He pursued me, and experiencing this for the first time was mind-blowing. All of my past understandings about how a relationship worked were rocked. What was especially wonderful was that, for the first several months we knew each other, we had an entire ocean separating us... Chris and I actually met online. 

It wasn't through Match.com, but it was through Facebook. We had lots of mutual friends at the small Christian college we attended, but we had never met before. At the time, Chris was studying abroad for the fall semester in Oxford, and I was on campus in Abilene. I was also just beginning to go to counseling to work through my years-long battle with depression. Through what I know was the Holy Spirit on the move, we began chatting on Facebook, which turned into chatting via text messages, which turned into early morning or late night Skype calls. We had the incredible opportunity to get to know each other as friends without the physical temptations we both had faced in past relationships. As it became clear that this relationship was one we were interested in pursuing when Chris got back to Abilene, we started having more serious conversations – including talking through our past relationships and past struggles. We both came with a lot of baggage, but the foundation we were laying for our relationship came with a lot of grace. 

When Chris got back from Oxford, we began dating. While it was easy being together, it was also hard. Physical boundaries weren't specifically set, and there were seasons where we messed up. Thankfully, God was working in both of our hearts to chase out the temptations in our relationship. He was wooing us to Himself, and in turn, it wooed us even more towards each other. Our eyes were being opened to the fact that the most loving thing we could do for each other was to respect each other physically. And it didn't happen quickly – we had veered far off of the path God had intended for our relationship, and it took time to find our way out of the woods. I'm so thankful for the way the Holy Spirit called out to us and for the many date nights we had that ended in tears – it was through those intense discussions, where we admitted things weren't right, that God was lovingly putting two broken people together for His glory. 

Not every relationship works out the way ours did. I really am continually amazed at how God has been speaking to us about things at the same time. So far, we haven't had a season where we've had to play "catch up" with each other – and I know if that does come, God will be right there with each of us. But being on the same page, by God's great mercy, has been so beautiful for our relationship and for our marriage. There's still seasons where the physical sins we walked in come back to haunt us and hinder our marriage. I'm so thankful to have a Christ-centered marriage and Christ-centered friendships where I'm free to be vulnerable in my brokenness and have them point me back to Christ and who He says I am.

He takes my shame; He calls me blameless before Him. He says I am whole in Him, and I am being made holy. He has forgiven me for my past and made me clean with His blood. I can't believe someone would love me that much... and would make beautiful flowers (like this marriage) come out of my dirty soil. Hearing His words of love towards me poured out of the mouths of my friends and my husband is truly a healing balm to my soul. My heart breaks over my past, and He is using them to mend it, piece by piece. My identity has been made new in Christ, and it's no longer claimed by my past. It's not based on anything I have or haven't done, but is in fact based on everything Jesus did and didn't do. He took on my sin, died on a cross as a sinless man, and because of that – I get a new life. 

I am a new creation. Literally. I read this truth over and over again:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Thank you, sweet Chris, for loving me and pursuing me daily, waving the banner of Christ. I love you more every day, but the best reality is that Christ loves you infinitely more than I do. Happy Valentine's Day.