“You just have it all together.”

I laughed when a new friend said this to me recently. We’d spent our Bible study session talking about living authentically.  I’d shared about my bible study on authenticity coming out August.

She only sees Mary, the Bible study leader and writer. If she knew how I spent my early 20s, she certainly wouldn’t think that.

I have one of those testimonies. I’m a girl with a story—a long, drama-filled one. I don’t walk around telling people about it—it’s not a great icebreaker. Hi, I’m new here. I’ve been divorced and I’ve spent more than a night or two on a barstool. But Jesus has redeemed my past.

I think it’s just a bit much for that initial meeting. Truthfully, when is a good time to bring up my misspent young adult years?

I found my way to Jesus as a young girl but my late teen and younger adult years were filled with bad decisions and sin-filled choices. I came back to Jesus as a young married woman and the church became a part of my life. I remember those women who seemed to have it all together. They always had the right thing to say, and they knew just what to do in any situation. They knew all the words to the hymns and could turn to the book of Habakkuk without ever looking in the table of contents.

I was awestruck by them—and intimidated. I figured they could never understand a girl with a past like mine.

But I discovered these women were more like me than I’d ever imagined. The Lord used a women’s retreat to change my view of the world. Three of our leaders shared their stories with honesty and authenticity—stories of bad decisions and wrong choices. One shared a story that was much like my own. She didn’t sugarcoat or glorify her past mistakes. She shared them as a showcase of God’s redeeming grace.

Over the years, I’ve learned most of the words to the popular hymns; I’m a little better at handling situations; and I can even find Habakkuk. But I don’t want anyone to think I have it all together—I don’t. (Just ask my family or take a look at my messy desk.)


I want people to know that I have a redeemed past and I walk in the freedom of faith in Christ. Anything that seems together about me is because of Jesus. He alone saved me from a path of self-destruction and He alone gets the glory.

Living authentically is a popular phrase, and I’m certain it means different things to different people. For me it means:

Embrace the past, both the good and the bad.

Walk in the freedom of God’s saving grace.

Use your story wisely.

I listen for opportunities to share my story. I wait for the Lord to open doors. I want women to know Christ redeems the past and replaces it with a future filled with freedom.