I’ve watched Sharon Paavola grow in recent years. God has transformed her and made her spirit beautiful. In this UPGRADE Uplift, she shares what the Lord did in her life and how He can do the same for each of us.
The words “party girl” crept into my mind with a cloud of regret and depression,” Sharon said.
We all have regrets. I (Dawn) do. The enemy likes to beat us up with them. But God has a word for Christians … actually, two … and they make all the difference.
Sharon continues . . .
Party Girl. That's how I described most of my life to my psychiatrist. I told him how much I used to drink and date, even after my divorce and on into my forties. I caroused after I married my current husband.
Bad. That's what I thought about myself. Bad.
My coping mechanism, he said, during my immature stage. Where did that come from? Who did I model? I didn’t know anyone in my life that behaved that way. Christians surrounded me. Weren’t these bizarre actions from an innocent girl who knew God, who supposedly knew how to live rightly?
But I didn’t even bat an eye. It seemed natural to me … like I grew up in that environment. I lived a dual life. I acted as a Christian and then as the party girl wherever it suited me.
The chaos created in my mind and soul was so loud I had to keep partying to not hear it.
Then, 20 years ago as I sat in my closet, I finally surrendered all of my life to Christ. I wanted Him to be more than my Savior; I wanted Him to be my Lord. I realized my way had failed me. I wanted to walk His way.
Once I merged into one person, leaving the party girl behind, I found God loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me in spite of who I had been. I grew tired of my poor decisions and changed my life for the better.
Yet with my new surrender, I was surprised by the agonizing depression that came as I thought about the past and things I couldn't change.
I was so susceptible to spiraling down the trail of old baggage. I felt despair and regret about all the time wasted—the shameful things I did. There had been two of me.
I ached inside thinking about the party girl, completely adrift with no anchor to hold her in place.
I cried for her. I cried over my past.
Abruptly, my doctor said our time had to end. But I wasn’t ready. When I turned my car on, the radio announcer said,
“You are not defined by who you used to be.”
That was the message I needed to hear! Oh, thank you, God!
I felt light again. The burden was gone along with the weighty regret. No longer the Party Girl! I am a “New Creature” in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I could stop beating myself up. My spirit was free to listen to the transforming truth of God’s gospel and live His plan for my life.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
I am no longer defined by who I used to be. Now my identity is in Christ alone.
Are you the same person everywhere you go—the same at church and the same at home? How are you holding onto old concepts of yourself and not accepting the new you in Christ?
Sharon Paavola’s passion to speak, write and encourage women is to release them from their past—from depression and pain—so they can move on to hope, freedom and living in the present. Sharon writes a blog that includes book reviews, and she leads a Post Abortion Recovery Ministry. She and her husband, Eric, and two Bichons live in the San Diego, California, area and they have three grown children. Follow Sharon on herblog.
Graphic adapted, StockSnap, created by Luis Llerena.