Conditional Love

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“You are a murderer. You are damaged goods. You come from a dysfunctional family. Nobody is going to want you. Those words kept running through my head as I wrestled with depression in 2011,” said Celin Baird. “My battle with guilt and shame was not a new one. It began when I made the decision to have an abortion. The burden worsened as I endured broken relationships, emptiness, and heartache in the years to come.

“My childhood environment was tense. My dad was a functioning alcoholic, and my parents were constantly arguing. Most of the arguments ended with my dad leaving the house. To drown out the sounds of chaos, I found security in insolation by retreating to my room. Back then as long as I did what I was told things would go well for me and I would receive conditional love. That conditional love marked the beginning of my struggle with people pleasing.

“After high school, I moved to Arlington, Texas for school. I was in an unhealthy relationship, and we lived together throughout college. I struggled with feelings of unworthiness, like nobody else would love me. Ignoring the warning signs, I married him after graduation. That marriage later ended in divorce.

“Back then, I knew of Christ and occasionally went to church. But I never thought about having a relationship with Him; I didn’t know how to have one. After all, I didn’t even have a relationship with my earthly father who was tangible. Yet, I yearned for peace and freedom from bondage, and that is where God began to work.

“A new coworker started a Bible study at our office, and out of curiosity, I attended. Other coworkers also invited me to Watermark with them. I now can see God strategically placing people in my life to lead me to Him.

“The Sunday I visited Watermark, a woman shared about how God changed her life through Someone Cares, a recovery ministry for women who have been hurt by past abortions. I thought I had worked through both my abortions, but still I found myself signing up for Someone Cares.

“It took me a while to warm up to the caring women at Someone Cares because I was used to keeping people at arm’s length. As we continued through the curriculum, the reality hit me; I had numbed my pain and placed both abortions into a sealed box, never to be opened. During the study, I learned Isaiah 1:18-19, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.’ The thought of the Lord picking me up and cleaning my bloody stains was comforting, and I trusted the Lord. I was a new creation and could feel the weight of guilt and shame lifting!

“I wish I could say I immediately walked away from my selfishness, lack of trust, and sinful desires. Living with one foot in the world and the other in church was miserable. That began to change when I went to Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, re:generation.

“The Lord used that ministry to help me see that I was comparing my earthly father to my Heavenly Father. The Lord helped shed light on family relationships that I needed to work on, while also showing me what Scripture says about my worth in His eyes. I’d always struggled with guilt, shame, low self-worth, and accepting God’s forgiveness. But by refusing to accept His forgiveness and restoration, I was devaluing Christ’s death on the cross for my sins. Learning to rest in the fact that His grace paid for ALL my sin was a game-changer.

“I’m so thankful that the Lord transformed my heart through His Word and His people. I was surrounded by women who loved me, held me accountable, and reminded me of God’s goodness. Yet, in 2011, I battled with depression again. But this time was different, because I knew where to turn for strength. 1 Peter 5:8 says, ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ God’s Word showed me that I was allowing the Enemy’s lies to take control. Through wise counsel and the encouragement of my community group, I overcame the depression quickly this time.

“This journey of healing and redemption with the Lord prepared me to become emotionally healthy for the next chapter – marriage. In 2013, I married Chris. He has a tender heart and deeply loves the Lord. The Lord has also strengthened my faith as we have walked through difficult seasons of betrayal and broken trust. The Lord reminded me through reading the book of Hosea that, just like He restored His people, God has also forgiven me. The Lord taught me how to forgive so our marriage can heal and move forward.

“I’ve learned that my hard times are good opportunities to sit with God while He works in me. The Lord has been faithful to lead me through the wilderness, where it’s unsafe, and reveal that He is my safe place. When I cry out to God, He takes my bitter circumstances and sweetens them. God can be trusted to lead us to His perfect place by His perfect route in His perfect time.”