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Spiritual Marriage

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And like that, 2020 ended, leaving us with hopes that the new year would be different. One month in, and it is for me. Funnily enough, none of it has anything to do with COVID, but by being baptised. Amusingly, when people told me it would change my life, I didn't actually believe it. How could one day make a huge difference in my life? Why would I be that lucky for the world to change or miracles to happen?

The baptism itself was a joy. I'd never realised how loved I was until there was an outpouring of tears and affection from the congregation as I shared my story and took my oath. People who I felt were probably sick of me rejoiced and praised me for the journey I had survived. They boasted how proud they were of me, that I had never been a shadow to them. They had seen me real and raw the whole time. As a group we celebrated what God had done for me, and how much he had patched and stitched up all my wounds and scars. It really was the happiest day of my life, as I was inducted into Jesus's love officially, but also the body of people I always wished I would be included in -- only to realise I always was, I just didn't notice while being stuck in my world of self-defeat.

Then the sun faded and the day was over. I was exhausted. Nerves had depleted my energy levels, as had the emotional outpouring of my own. But I couldn't sleep. All night I watched the stream of the baptism over and over, suddenly realising the little things I hadn't noticed. Some people had tried to hide their joy or tears, but on video they weren't as covert as I watched it fascinated by every reaction. I couldn't work out if all baptisms were this special and I'd missed it, or if I just felt it more because it was my own. It was weird to be the only baptism of 2020, COVID wiping out all other opportunities for large celebrations before December.

The day after I cried all day. I was in a state of shock that I wasn't as awful as I thought I was. People were actually moved by my story. They weren't judging or frowning on my history, they were inspired by me. There was no pride to be had, only utter surprise. Tears fell for hours as I realised I had waited my whole life to feel wanted, loved and special to one special man, only to have a similar feeling, only from dozens of people, and God himself. There was a sudden change that I felt enough finally. Deep down I felt like I was married -- that I had arrived, and my goals of impressing people or showing I'm worthy of love had ended. There wasn't anything to prove anymore. God and every one of his people saw who I really was, and loved me anyway.

As the day after faded, I finally began to accept life had to change. My old beliefs about myself started to soften and distort. Oh, how I felt like a new person. Then the elation of knowing things had already changed in my spirit so much, but the foretold date had not happened yet.

December 15. It was a day White Rabbit had told me would be a changing day. At the time it was said as the day I'd be free of my ex-relationship burdens, but it started and ended quite strangely. Firstly, I had arranged to meet a friend and hang out with him. When I got to town an hour early I decided to check out the Christian book store. Nothing special. Suddenly a voice said, "Hi, well at least I know you're still reading Christian books." The smile of my pastor grinned at me over the bookshelf. We spoke about books and gifts for Christian friends, before we ran into another pastor of the church. Both had come separately and didn't see the other until I pointed each other out. What a weird occurrence.

As I rushed to meet my friend, I ran into another person I was hoping to see. They had been a great mystery to me for a while, but now we had opportunity to talk. Another rare coincidence, but okay, I can handle this.

When the business hours were winding up, I got a call inviting me to interview for my dream job. I'd put my name down a week beforehand, expecting to be left on the potential list a few months at least. This ended up being a job offer.

Baptism afforded me things that I always wanted, but God was waiting for me to sacrifice for Him. A few months ago life had given me two options:

- Settle with a great man in Brisbane, have kids, take a random job I wouldn't care about, be a kept woman -- but let go of my faith to keep this man happy.

- Give up on a man who wanted me at the price of giving up my faith and giving up my dreams for the happiness of him and his family.

I had struggled so much with the choice, but when I took stock after baptism, I realised how richer I was. There were many people who loved me, rather than one and his temperamental family. I'd had mentoring and growth through the pastors at the church, which had become invaluable as to answering my questions about life. I'd gotten full-time work which I'd always hoped for. There was a peace that I didn't have to bother seeking out love from strangers or relationships that were doomed from the beginning. I'd been given comfort that I could now be "normal" enough that I didn't have to over-compensate everywhere I went. I was free. Most importantly, I felt God finally saw me as His. As the pastor smiled at me, proud, I could imagine that Jesus would look at me the same way, knowing the hard choice I'd made to become baptised and faithful to Him.

Since the day I gave my life to God, I've kept this peace. There have been tears, as it seems the Holy Spirit has lead me into a lot of brain-twisting realisations about myself and others. It came to a point where I knew my bus days were over. Three years ago I'd starting taking the bus every time I was angry, sad, pained, lonely or frustrated. I'd sit there, imagining the way I'd wished I could confront people, or imagined how life could have been different for me. I would channel my self-loathing out as anger to those who had affected my life or reprimanded myself for my past choices. I'd take routes that would pass landmarks of past relationships so I could constantly remind myself what stupid mistakes I'd made, or imagine yelling at them so they would realise who they really hurt. Yes, I was furious with so many things in my life. But now, I was free. I realised I didn't need to play this "anywhere but here" game anymore because I didn't want to be anywhere else. Where I was sufficed, it comforted me, and I liked myself. There was nothing to run from anymore.

God also afforded me inspiration to take up new hobbies, gather new friends, and be comfortable in being alone. The hunger to find new people blended down into a mild interest. What I was seeking from others came from me instead. And when I did spend time with others, I found I was at a similar achievement level, or they helped highlight how far I'd progressed, or a skill I was good at. These interactions were positive.

As I sit here now, I'm satisfied with life. I'm eager to start my full-time job next week, keep my casual job at a hospital, and maybe even sing at church, which I would have never had the courage to do before. And now that I am more settled, I know it makes me a better daughter, sister, friend, teacher, motivator and potential partner for others. I'm ready to focus on doing all of these roles better. Well, except the last one. No need to rush that -- I can take myself out to dinner any time I want!

It's funny because I fought so long to separate myself from the persona of a girl from a bubble, only for a church friend to tell me, "You didn't leave a bubble -- you just traded one for another. Now you are part of God's bubble." They were right. Being part of a congregation means being part of a little personal group where you are always mindful and loving each other. Even when I'm home alone, I'm not actually alone -- my church family are always there the moment I need them.

I'm feeling a rich form of love and joy right now. I'm ready for what's coming next. The Lord knows how prepared I am, how much He has done for me.


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