I grew up in a good home. A very moral home. My parents always taught me the value of right or wrong, to stand up for what is just and right and the value in showing others they are loved. My mom had a huge heart for women less fortunate than her or in situations where they can’t help themselves. She’d do anything to make someones life a little easier, bring a smile to their face or make them feel heard… nothing short of giving them the shirt off her own back. I was raised to do good and to be the best person I could be… that I could change the world if I wanted to and inspire others to do the same.
Being raised Catholic I attended weekly mass, both in school and on the weekend, took religion class and started school each day with prayer.
I learnt about God, who had sent his son Jesus to earth to die on a cross for my sins. I learnt about the ten commandments and the necessity to keep them or I’d go to hell. I believed my faith had everything to do with what I could do [acts of good] , not what had already been done for me [that while I wasn’t a murder, nothing I could ever do would be clean enough next to God’s just, merciful, pure standards. Which is why he sent his son] I didn’t understand the weight of Christ’s cruxicificion, or why it had to happen.. especially not how it related to me, specifically.
In my heart, God was big, mighty and intimidating, perfect and completely un-relatable. I imagined him as a domineering head in the sky, who was keeping a permanent tally of the good I did in life vs. the bad. That because I inevitably fall short and sin on a regular basis, he would send me to a corner to say my Hail Mary’s if I talked to him. So I limited our correspondence to confession days with the school priest and dire cases of emergencies, in which I would weigh the importance of getting what I wanted. “God, please let me get an A on this test.” “Please Lord let me beat Stacy this year at dance provincials. I’m tired of coming in second!” I truly believed that If I asked for something now, it meant one less thing he’d give me later, because I didn’t deserved anything to begin with… I hadn’t yet proven myself; that I wasn’t worthy enough, good enough or holy yet. And someone like that, God wouldn’t want to bless.
Every so often, when I was scared, I would repeat “God be with me, God be for me,” over and over again, as if it put a protective shield around me and before I’d go on stage to perform a dance routine or speak in a debate, I would make the sign of the cross.
God was nothing more than a religion, a spiritual concept, or last resort- a ritual and routine.
I didn’t understand that God wanted to have an intimate relationship with me or that his son Jesus was my personal saviour, fully human – so that he could relate to my every need, desire and pain- yet fully God -my perfect, flawless example of what it looks like to walk a Christian life.
In my youth, I experience more heart ache then I cared to admit, from loosing my younger brother and battling anorexia, to being date raped, and severely bullied.
I was a good kid. I didn’t get into mischief, I was always eager to please and I consistently tried to do the right thing. By the standards of what I knew about God, I couldn’t understand why he had let all these things happen to me. I became resentful. I grew a thick skin and was given the nick name “ice queen,” by my family, rarely ever shedding a tear or letting my deep emotions be publicly known. I felt I had no one to confide in or share what I was going through with. Not friends, not God, not Family. So I buried them and hid behind my competitive dance practice and schooling, which consumed all hours of every day. I decided I would get back at the pain, by being the best me possible… that that would surely fulfil me and make me the happiest person in the word.
Perfection became the name of my game. I was determined to prove myself, God and the world wrong. I’d be someone special- make something of myself that the world could not deny or reject.
I’d inspire people to learn from my example and be the best them possible. People would be my friends, I’d be successful in business just like my parents and the world would know the name Kailey-Michelle!
With time and each failed attempt at finding fulfillment, my hunger grew. I sought money, influence, status and possessions. I chased accomplishment after accomplishment, always raising the bar and never satisfied. Around the next bend I’d find my identity, my worth and life’s true meaning. But still it left me empty.
And with each supposed victory, disappointment set in. I grew more angry at God… it simply wasn’t fare. I was a good person! I was doing everything I could!
I started seeing the world with tainted eyes and judgement, that everyone hated me and secretly wanted to see me fail. I was ashamed of my past and what I saw as a “weak” person inside me, but even more repulsed by the person I was becoming. I felt conflicted, hating both the real me and the person I was projecting to the world. Shame set in and quickly I fled from what little relationship I had with God. If I couldn’t face myself, how could I ever face the big man upstairs… he already hated me before. I in turn grew a thick skin, which only masked my hurt and insecurities with arrogance and pride.
I used the hypocrisy I had witness within the church as my excuse, explaining that faith without love was not for me and a world of injustice, couldn’t possible be loved by a God.
During this time, I met my husband Dave. He was a PK [Pastors Kid] from the country [I had never really left the city], who himself was running from everything he knew. While outwardly, he projected a bad boy image, which my pride saw as a make-work-project to conquer, inwardly, he was the most compassionate, gentle natured, good man I would ever come to know here on earth. For many years, we believed we were drawn the bold, outspoken confidence that we shared, but I know how it was God’s divine appointment and matchmaking that brought us together and our souls that connected first, long before we would ever realize it.
Together, we were always our most vulnerable with each other; our true selves and not the ones we were desperately trying to be. And in the process, we fell madly in love, feeling safe, accepted and at home in each others presence. As our relationship became more serious, we opened ourselves up to each others family. His father and I quickly took to each other and I appreciated his willingness to listen. I would share openly about my struggles and pose question and question. I’d ask why to all the tough stuff people grapple with and demand answers from this “all knowing” man of God. If anyone could give me answers it would be him.
It was his faithful encouragement to search for my answers in the bible, endless discussions each time we talked and ultimately his pursuing of Dave and I returning to Church, that turned my life around.
I’d soon encounter God in a whole new way, in a Christian congregation, so foreign to my Catholic roots.
The people there were passionate, so kind and Jesus “freaks.” They almost embarrassed me, when they’d share what God was doing in their life or what God spoke to them and revealed the other day. But over time, my heart softened and as I learnt more about God’s character and how much he loved me unconditionally, I too longed to have an intimate relationship with God. But how? what were the steps and what did this relationship look like?
Not long after I heard about Harvest Seattle on the radio, a free concert on my birthday, featuring multiple artists I wanted to see live. So with Dave in tow, we made the 3 hour trek and discovered the man that would answer that question and invite me into the next chapter of my life. At Harvest Seattle, in front of thousands of people, Greg Laurie, who I felt was me in male form, lead Dave and I in asking Jesus into our hearts once again- to be our personal Lord and saviour. And the rest in history.
From that moment on my world changed- God turned it upside down. What followed was overwhelming change and astronomical growth, and unexplainable change was occurring both in our lives and in our hearts. Our ideas, our work and our goals changed. Our motives, our values and our measuring stick changed. I mean, everything changed.
And with it, brought many heartaches, fear and frustrations. But through it all, our hearts held on stronger. The Holy Spirit had entered my hearts and was determined to do an over haul.
Now I live for grace and aim to live my life to God standards, rather than the world unattainable and disheartening standard of perfect.
Its a choice I make daily, to seek God’s standard for my life above anything else. I pray each morning that God would humble my heart, reveal his will for my life and refine me into the women he wants me to be.
I see that the things of my former life, an endless pursuit, was for something unattainable and ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Because perfectionism, my friend is impossible. Only God can attain such majesty! But that’s ok. We don’t need to be perfect. He promises to give us our every desire, provide our every need and heal our deepest hurts- to make us strong in him and give us every good thing we need to do his will.
With him on our side nothing and no one can be against us! In him we have our victory, our wholeness and a father, who loves us exactly as we are. Not because of what we can do or how wonderful we are in the worlds eyes, but because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, bringing us in to perfect harmony and relationship with God almighty.
All we need to do is invite him in. To answer the knock, cause he’s waiting…