In a small city in South Korea, a cry broke out through the night. A baby with dark almond eyes, round cheeks and a full head of hair was born to a young, South Korean woman. Shortly after giving birth, this new mother had to make a hard decision. “Do I keep this baby or do I give her up?” Thoughtfully, she decided to give the little baby up for adoption; perhaps she was hoping to give this little girl the best life she could possibly have.
Six months later, this little Korean baby was adopted from a foster home in the heart of Korea. The adoptive parents were from Oregon and had already adopted a baby boy the year before. This man and woman had struggled to get pregnant for years and after exhausting all of their options, the Lord was putting adoption on their heart. After bringing home their son, their heart ached to get another little baby. And that’s just what they did. They picked her up from Korea, flew across the ocean and landed in Oregon where this little baby girl would grow up.
Can you guess who this was?! It was me! (I’m sure you didn’t see that one coming lol!) My story did not fully begin until I was adopted into my family. Growing up, I always felt loved and I never felt like I was a “black sheep” or discriminated against. Our home was always full of the love from my parents and the love of God that they taught us. There was always enough food, toys, warm clothes and things to do.
There was never a time that my brother and I were left wanting. My dad worked hard at his job to provide for us and always came home in the evening to play with us, despite how tired he may have been. Our mom became a stay-at-home mom once they had adopted my brother and I. She dealt with significant health issues over the years — needless to say, I respect her for parenting two crazy, extroverted kids on crutches!
Life was always easy for me. My parents never got a divorce. I didn’t know many people that died. School was a breeze and I loved dancing. I had lots of friends and I didn’t have trouble keeping meat on my bones at the time…😉
When I was three years old, I remember my parents asking me if I wanted to receive Jesus Christ into my heart. They were reading my brother and I a little devotional book that helped children understand the gospel. From the beginning, my parents taught me about God, the Holy Spirit & Jesus. They told me Bible stories and what Jesus did on the cross 2,000 years ago. We always attended church together. So when I was four, I prayed with my parents and accepted Jesus Christ into my life.
Fast forward to eighth grade: Life was pretty even-keeled. Pretty easy. I had just graduated from my private chool. I was excited to move on to high school, with lots of boys, classes and football games. In my mind, I pictured it being like anything else in my life: easy. A no-brainer. Breezy.
Just when I thought that life was going to be sunshine and roses, the unexpected hit. I woke up one morning, unable to move and in a tremendous amount of physical pain. This pain lasted for months — so long that I had to remove myself from school. Months went by, and my family and I found out that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. A few weeks later, my doctors suggested physical and occupational therapy. My body was as strong as a toothpick. The next weeks were grueling. The therapists pushed my body past its limits and more often than not, I crumped up on the floor in tears from pain.
I was fuming with God. Every morning and every evening, I would have a boxing match with God: “Why me? Why now? This is the best time of my life! Why do I have to do this? Why won’t You just let me give up?!” My heart had callused over and the joy of the Lord was most definitely NOT my strength.
A year rolled by and therapy was over. The therapists concluded that they had done all they could and it was time for me to implement these things into my life. Basically, I had to keep a consistent workout regiment, take some medications and find ways to effectively handle stress. They taught me to push myself; they taught me to do things even when my body didn’t want to. Needless to say, this was a struggle. Most of all, I wasn’t relying on the Lord to help me and just became bitter and closed off.
Finally, I was back to full time at my high school. I was ready to get plugged in — even though I was dealing with some major social anxiety. But wouldn’t you know it… that’s the time when an adolescent male came onto the scene. He was bad news — everything that I said I would never fall for. Everything that went against my standards as a Christian. Inevitably, like the stupid girl I was, I fell for him and started to make very bad decisions. I started lying to my parents about my whereabouts. I started to break curfews. I started to make different friends; friends that would make me feel better about the bad choices I was making.
This was an all-time low for me. This was the year that I like to call, “the bad year.” My Bible sat on the nightstand or shoved in the drawer — wrought with dust and guilt. The Holy Spirit kept tugging at my heart every time I would make a bad decision.
“Tara. I know you hear Me. What are you doing? Turn to Me. Let Me help you out of this situation and back into My arms.”
I quickly ignored what the Holy Spirit was saying, what God was saying to me, and went on with my rebellious activities. After months of getting caught by my parents, faking an apology and then doing it again — something finally snapped in me.
It was probably the sixtieth time that my parents had caught me lying and seeing this boy. I was ready to give the usual sob story, “Mom and Dad, I’m so sorry. I won’t do it again” and then turn around and do it again.
But something stopped me. SomeONE stopped me.
It was Him. It was God. “Tara…. Tara… This is it. It’s Me or a life of sin. Make your choice.”
Tears. I mean TEARS WERE FLOWING. Gushing. God had finally broken my callused heart; He had finally opened my eyes to the reality of my life. The “scales on my eyes” (just like Saul) were lifted and it was so evident to me how broken I was. How desperately I needed saving — and for real this time.
The next few months were spent recovering and regaining trust, both from my family and friends. They were also spent in an enormous amount of shame and guilt. I would think back to the mistakes I made and shudder — they were minor, but they still haunted me. I felt dirty.
It was a process, but I finally began to live differently — think differently — see God differently. I began to think and see Him through a different lense.
I saw Him through the lense of GRACE.
I no longer saw my sin as a barrier between God and I. I began to let God relieve me of my guilt and shame and put on His grace. It was mind-blowing that He would give me grace, pardon me from my wrongdoings, and still call me His child… after all I had done to disobey and hurt Him.
Now why do I say all of that? I’m sure that was a lot deeper than you thought it would get… But all those pieces are apart of who I am. Those pieces have formed who I am today: a small town, short and saved woman.
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and into my heart when I was four years old. And I re-accepted Him back into my life when I was sixteen. Not because I needed to, but because I wanted to rededicate my life to Him — after living in sin for so long.
Why do I tell you all of this? Well, friend — I want to give GOD the glory for my life. I want to you walk away from reading this, thinking, “WOW. God can do that? He can be apart of my life? I can be apart of His family? WOW. I want that.”
Friends, I want to be real and transparent with you. More than anything, I want to be a witness to God’s immeasurable grace and His abundant love. My story may look different than yours, but if you have accepted Jesus into your life, you can have the same transformation. And your life can be wrapped up in His grace, just like mine.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)