Tuesday, May 6, 2014

the girl who changed the direction of my life

When I was 14, my number one favorite thing in life was getting male attention. 

The rule in my house was, 
"You can date when you're 16."

I couldn't wait to turn 16. 

I wanted to date 50% of the boys in the high school. 
I was flirty, selfish, vain, and found my confidence in what the guys at school had to say about me. 

When I was a freshman, my oldest sister Kara was in college and started getting weird.  
When she was in high school, she had been a lot like me, 
really in love with guys and their glances. 
But during her college years, she started being different. 
She stopped dating, started talking about things like
 "protecting your heart," and started being confident for reasons that had nothing to do with what guys thought about her. 
I thought it was weird. 
I had liked her boyfriends and wondered why on earth she would stop dating. 
But I didn't have to wonder long. 

She didn't hesitate to tell me what was sparking all this change. 
She started talking and talking and talking to me about stuff that I really didn't want to hear. 

"I went through high school doing what the world says and I have paid for it dearly. I think of all the time I wasted thinking about some guy, all the crying, the torture, trying to get noticed, having to hurt him, getting hurt, etc. I was so selfish. The whole 'process' is so selfish."

"Putting God first means doing what He wants. He never wants us to fall in love, and then out of love, and then back in again. His will is for it to happen once, and it should be the first time for everything. Not the 8th or the 20th time, not even the 2nd."

"He never wanted for guys and girls to have numerous little relationships growing up where they learned that it was okay to 'break up' and get back together and it was okay to hurt people if you didn't want to be with them anymore, and He sure doesn't want you to get your heart broken…"

"You have to choose, Abbie, the world's way or God's way. God's way is to guard you heart (Proverbs 4:23)."

And on and on. 
She wrote me a letter, she talked to me, she gave me books, she prayed for me, and then she talked to me more. 

At ages 14 and 15, she was really getting on my nerves. 
I was going to be 16 soon, spread my boy crazy wings out, and fly into the world of dating.
She gave me so many books on dating and purity. 
I read them, and at first, like Kara, they got on my nerves. 
But like He always does, God listened to Kara's prayers. 
He used her words, He softened my heart, and He changed my mind. 
By the time I turned 16, I decided this "protect your heart" thing was the path I was going to try to take. 
I still really loved guys and their attention, but I started loving God more, so I told God I would go after His attention instead of theirs'. 
The books that had once got on my nerves were now describing the sort of life that I wanted to live. 

It's a miracle, the thing God did in my heart. 
She's a miracle, that weird sister of mine. 

As I finished my high school career, still a young hopeless romantic, but not dating,
 I watched my sister fall in love. 

For six years, she told my family about this man of God whom she wanted to marry. But for six years, she didn't go on one single date with him. 
It's sort of a long story, and one I really love, but I'll spare you all the details and just say that after six years of dreaming about him, 
she and this man of God began a God-designed romance
I was 17 on their wedding day.
It was like a fairytale and my 17 year-old heart was more than ever convinced that God is good at writing love stories. 

When I think about the road that I was on as a 14-year old, and where that road typically leads, I realize there is really just one person whom God used to keep me from going down that road.  
And that person is my big sister. 

When God started teaching her about purity, not just sexual purity, but emotional purity, she didn't keep His lessons to herself. 
She shared them with her baby sister, and it changed her 
baby sister's life. 

That's what changing somebody's life looks like. 
Sharing with them what God is saying to you. 
Jesus talked to a lady at a well once, and after their conversation, that lady went into her town and told everyone about Jesus and the stuff He said to her. 
As a result, a bunch of people from that town went and found Jesus to hear from Him for themselves. 
When Jesus teaches us through the Bible and His Spirit, He wants us to tell the people in our lives what He's saying. 

And I'm telling you, when we do that, it will change the direction of people's lives like my sister changed the direction of mine. 
When you love Jesus with all your heart, it's contagious.
This purity, no dating thing, is just one of the many impacts that Kara has had on my life.
My walk with the Lord has her handprints all over it.  
I'm so thankful for my contagious big sister. 

I'm now 26, my number one favorite thing in life is having Jesus' attention. 
a letter about guarding my heart
that she wrote to me when I was 13

p.s. happy birthday, kj.