Hey, my name is Lawna, and I'm so honored to share a part of my journey with you!
My story is prayerfully nowhere near done. But I want to share a bit of what God has done in my heart and life in the 28 years He's allowed me to have breath in my lungs!
My journey started in Union City, Georgia. Daughter to two Liberian refugees that made it to the States after a civil war that had torn their country apart. My dad went from preaching on street corners to hundreds in Liberia, to starting a church in Atlanta with my momma. So yep. I'm a pastor's kid through and through!
As the years went on, my parents thought it best to move to Fayette County, Georgia, for me and my three older sisters to grow up in a better environment.
In the fifth grade, my dad introduced me to basketball, and being a daddy's girl, I did all I could to make him proud. The following year I started playing basketball with my middle school team. I didn't know I was stepping into a world where I'd quickly learn what conditional love looked and felt like. I realized quickly that my hero and my safe space was now gone. And in his place, I had a critic that eventually influenced how I viewed myself.
Amidst struggling to see my worth without performance attached to it, I was introduced to pornography.
As I wrestled with seeing my worth and value, I began a journey of addiction to pornography. I bought into the lie that no man would ever want me because I didn't look like the women on the other side of the screen.
There I was. A twelve-year-old girl that didn't feel like her father really loved her, and didn't think a real man could ever love her because she didn't look like a pornstar, and a whole host of other insecurities. And at twelve, I decided I would never open my heart to another man. From that point on, I lived a lifestyle of homosexuality. I believed that men weren't safe, and the familiarity of women made me feel safer.
I continued this journey until something happened during my Sophomore year of college. I started feeling an emptiness like never before. I'd been searching for satisfaction through relationships with women, porn, alcohol, and parties, but I started feeling emptier and emptier. I was trying to fill a God-sized void with temporary things that could not fill that space or satisfy me. I found myself weeping in the shower moments after being intimate with my at the time girlfriend. I had everything I thought I wanted but was missing the One thing I needed.
I was wildly aware that something needed to change. And on a summer day at the end of my sophomore year of college, I gave my life to Christ.
It wasn't cute or super spiritual.
I literally said, "Ok, I quit. I did it my way for all these years and I'm out of options. I’m emptier than I was when I was pretending in church."
But I gave God an ultimatum. I told Him, "If living for you is boring, I'm going back to my old life. I'll just make it work. Keep drinking, keep having sex, I'll do whatever I need to do to make it work."
Me. Telling the Creator of the Universe that I'd give Him a chance.
It was definitely a sight.
But in all of His love and kindness, He accepted the challenge. And from that point on, I entered into the most beautiful relationship with my best friend, my Father, my Protector, my Provider, the One who is the only one able to satisfy my every need. I walked away from my old life and walked into the arms of Jesus.
He pursued me relentlessly, even though I did not deserve it. And He's very much interested in doing the same for you.
Wherever you are on this journey of life, no matter what you've been through or where you've run to, what you've thought about yourself, or what others have said about you, please know that God loves you so much.
He's written the most beautiful love story for you. He wants to redeem every bit of your story and make beautiful things out of the ashes you were handed and incurred in this life for His glory and, ultimately, for your good.
Please hear me when I say I am in no way perfect.
I still face temptations with pornography.
I still have moments where the lust feels unbearable.
I still wrestle with the lie that I am not beautiful enough or worthy of love.
I'm still in the thick of letting God heal my father wounds in the most beautiful yet painful ways.
And much more.
But this is my journey, and God has faithfully pursued me and met me each time I've fallen. When I've wished He would leave me alone because I felt worthless and too far gone, He's said that He still loves me.
He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.
He loves me with an everlasting love.
And this is the same love He has for you.
If you're struggling to believe that today, I want to encourage you to be real. God can handle the truth tucked away behind your heart's wall.
He wants nothing more than to meet you right where you are with His love.
I'm living proof.