Have you ever fallen into the pit of despair, landing in a pool of your toxic mistakes and filthy sin? There in the depths you gaze in doubt at the slippery walls of consequence that rise 20 feet above you on all sides. “I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold,” describes the psalmist in 69:2 (NIV).
We’ve all been down there—we’ve all experienced deep anguish. But, if you read further, you find that the psalmist escapes. “Praise the Lord, O my soul,” he shouts, “who redeems your life from the pit!” (103:2-4, NIV).
The story told in the Psalms is familiar to Mississippi State senior Alexandria Hagler. Plagued at one time by sexual sin, homosexuality and abortion, Alex’s pit became deep and slippery. But just like the psalmist, Alex now shouts for joy that her Savior redeemed her life from the abyss. Her story reminds us no sin is too great for God’s grace.
|From the Word:|
Several Scriptures helped me along the way and continue to renew my spirit every day. I know they will encourage you, as well.
“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”– 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
“…and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
“And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.” – Hosea 2:19-20 (ESV)
“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
I grew up in a Christian family that went to church on Sundays, but I was never surrounded with people who had a fiery zeal for knowing Christ. We attended church, but didn’t really read the Bible or seek after the Lord.
Things were difficult for me and my brother. Our father was a hard man, emotionally and physically abusive to my mother, brother and me. And when I was 5 years old, my parents got divorced. From that point on I became especially protective of my brother, and we became close as we shuffled back and forth between visiting our mother and our father.
We continued to go to church, but the older I got, the more I went in my own way. I began to stray from seeking the Lord because I didn’t have anyone around to lead me in the right direction.
During this time, however, there was one bright light that shined in my life. When I was a sophomore in high school, a basketball teammate of mine whose father was a pastor led me to Christ. I knew that I had a Savior. I had hope.
Unfortunately, my family relationships continued to press down heavily on me. My relationship with my father was relatively nonexistent, and my strong relationship with my brother was also weakening. Added to that, my mother and step-father were also dealing with issues that put a strain on our family.
My senior year of high school, I got involved with a guy I had once dated in junior high. Because I knew Christ and I knew what the Bible said about sex before marriage, I told myself that I wasn’t going to sleep with him. But the fruit of that sour relationship—he had treated me very poorly—was a bad decision. I compromised my standard and had sex with him.
Yet, as one part of my life fell apart, another came together. Basketball had always been my dream. I’d wanted nothing else than to play in college, and my dream came true when I received a scholarship to play at Mississippi State University. Basketball was the shining spot in a great deal of darkness.
By this time, however, my mindset regarding relationships with men was not very healthy. I remember saying to God, “Lord, all of these men You placed in my life have disappointed me.” I’d never had a godly man to look up to. My father and step-father had disappointed me because I loved and cared about them so much. They said they’d always be there for me, but they weren’t.
I took this attitude and allowed it to grow and develop. I believed that no man would ever satisfy me. I thought, “I’m not going to find what I’m looking for, the love I want, in another man.”
Because I carried this sentiment, I held a big target for the enemy. When a girl from my basketball team at Mississippi State took interest in me and approached me about being in a relationship, I thought, “OK, Lord, I guess I’ll do this because of everything in my past.” As a result, this girl and I entered into a homosexual relationship that lasted for one year.
I knew it was wrong; I’d never thought homosexuality was OK. But, I justified it in my mind thinking, “God wants me to be happy, so this is OK.” I felt like I was happier in this relationship than I would have been in a relationship with a guy. But when she graduated after that year, I told myself that it was my chance to get out. Homosexuality was never what I had wanted for my life.
After she left, I resumed dating men and entered into a heterosexual relationship. Unfortunately, I still wasn’t looking to God to solve my problems. Instead, I looked to relationships to fill the void and hurt in my heart.
Again, just as before, my boyfriend and I did things that we shouldn’t have. I had sex with him, and this time I got pregnant. That was a bombshell I wasn’t ready for. I thought for sure that nothing like that would ever happen to me. I was overwhelmed with fear. The two things I had wanted most in my life were to have a family and to play basketball. I wanted to have the child, but I felt that if I did, my basketball career would surely end.
I decided to have an abortion. I’d worked so hard all of my life for basketball and couldn’t imagine giving up my dream. I approached my boyfriend about it and told him I was pregnant. He said that whatever I wanted to do was fine with him. I didn’t hear from him for two weeks after that, and I was essentially on my own.
I decided to travel to Memphis, my hometown, to have it done. When I returned to school and my dorm room the next night, I starting having intense pain in my stomach. It kept getting worse until it finally became unbearable. An ambulance came and took me to the hospital, where I stayed for two weeks.
To this day I still don’t know what happened, or if something with the abortion went wrong. But I do remember crying out to God. I asked Him what was going on. Prior to my sophomore year of college, I’d never been in the hospital. But in my first two years of college I was in the hospital seven times—two knee surgeries from basketball, the abortion and a series of other medical problems. By then, I could no longer play basketball because of my injuries, and I even thought that God was punishing me for what I’d been doing. It was too much to handle, and I fell into deep depression as my life spiraled downward.
As the relationship with my boyfriend ended, I retreated back to my old mindset. I thought, “Lord, I tried to date a guy, and I wanted it to work out, but it didn’t. I’m just going to do it my way.” So, I started dating another girl.
If you are pregnant, trust that God will take care of you and the situation. Do not have an abortion. God uses everything, and what was meant for evil can turn out for good. All I can tell you is to believe in God. Even though it might seem hard and look like a situation in which there is no way you can take care of the child, God will honor your decision not to take that route. Here is a list of places you can turn that can help:
Bethany Christian Servicesinfo@bethany.org
Phone: 1-800-BETHANY (238-4269), 24-hour Crisis Pregnancy Hotline
Also, if you are engaged in a homosexual lifestyle and would like to speak to someone, visit exodus-international.org or call (407) 599-6872.
Throughout this relationship, God again convicted me of my sin. I kept hearing Him say, “Come back to Me. I’ll heal you. I’ll love you.”
Finally, He got my attention, and He did so by showing me Christ’s love through a new teammate named Bethany Workman. She was a little, white girl who joined our basketball team as a freshman walk-on.
Bethany loved Jesus. She was on fire for Christ, and every time she would come around me, I knew that there was something different about her that I’d never experienced before. She loved the Lord and truly walked the walk and talked the talk.
I wanted to know what she had that made her so different. She was involved in FCA and Baptist Student Union (BSU) on campus, so I asked her about these groups. I didn’t really want to go, but I wanted to know this girl and for her to know me so I could know the God that she knew, if that makes sense.
She took me under her wing and we started going to FCA and BSU together. She would invite me to have lunch with her, go through God’s Word and hang out in her dorm room to talk. I never told her what I was going through, but afterward she told me she knew about it. Even so, she always treated me with love and respect. She never judged me, but treated me like a sister.
God used Bethany to open my eyes to see that He could and would love me. One day at an FCA meeting, our leader spoke and asked if anybody wanted to make a commitment to Christ and submit their life to Him. I raised my hand, and Bethany came over and prayed with me.
At the time, I was still involved with the other girl. When I left FCA that night I wondered how I would tell her about what had happened to me. But I didn’t have to. God took care of it. She knew there was a change coming about in me, and the relationship ended. I didn’t need to do anything about it.
Since then, it’s been me and God. True enough, I’ve encountered struggles, but God has never left me alone. Now, because of Him, I don’t struggle with my past sins. I’ve been seeking Him, and in the process He’s shown me many things.
Since surrendering fully to Christ, my perspective has completely changed. I don’t trust in myself anymore or think that I can take care of situations on my own. I trust in God and know that He’s taking care of me. My confidence is in who I am in the Lord. Knowing His love and experiencing His grace and mercy has changed me, and it continues to change me every day.
It overwhelms me to think how God can take a person like me who was engulfed in a pit of darkness and bring her into the light. When I was in the darkness, I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know my purpose, why I was on this earth. I looked around and saw other girls that seemed so confident, girls who seemed to have it all together, and I wondered why I was the one who had to come from the family I did. Why was I the one who had to go through troubles with my father? But I realized that there was a reason for my struggles. God reminds me to trust Him because His love is everlasting and unconditional.
Before committing my life completely to Christ I had heard that God loved me, and intellectually I knew that God loved me; but it’s different to feel it in my heart and allow it to transform who I am on the inside. Now, I don’t look to other things to satisfy me or to fill the void. I know that He created that void in me so that I would turn to Him for fulfillment. He is the only One who can fill me completely.
| "I still struggle with the way the world defines purity and how I fit into that. But, God continues to tell me that He does not judge me by my sins; He judges me by His standard, which is Jesus Christ."|
I still struggle with the way the world defines purity and how I fit into that. But, God continues to tell me that He does not judge me by my sins; He judges me by His standard, which is Jesus Christ. The world looks at me and says, “She’s not pure, she’s not holy.” But I believe that I am pure, holy and beautiful because I have Christ living in me.
Part of being crucified with Christ is that when He died, my old self died, as well. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, all of those sins were nailed there with Him. I have risen with Him to new
life, and it’s not I who live, but it’s Christ who lives in me. Everything that Christ is, I am.
It still overwhelms me to wrap my head around God’s love and understand fully that when God sees me, He sees His Son. And He’s overjoyed.