“For a long time, I had a transactional view of God. I thought doing what’s ‘right’ leads to favor from God and making bad choices leads to punishment,” said Casey Uphues. “It was very black and white in my mind, but I was missing some crucial parts of God’s character.
“I was very blessed to be raised by Christian parents and accepted Christ at the age of seven. I had a basic understanding that I was a sinner and in need of a savior. I knew the depravity in my heart, and I recognized that I couldn’t live life without Jesus. I needed Him for my salvation and eternity.
“But as a young believer at my church, I thought that being a sinner wasn’t tolerated or acceptable. I quickly learned that achievement and people-pleasing could earn me the love and approval I was seeking from everyone around me, as opposed to being authentic and vulnerable with my sin and mistakes. It would be years before I understood the power of freedom from sin that could be found in Christ and His deep, unconditional love for me.
“In high school, to my shock and disbelief, I was a victim of date rape. The ripple effects of this traumatic experience were far-reaching. Two pervasive and destructive lies came out of that time and followed me for many years. The first was that I could not tell anyone what had happened to me, for fear it would tarnish my ‘good girl’ reputation. I blamed myself, so I began to isolate and protect my secret at all costs. The second was that I was damaged goods, believing that the Lord could never use me because I messed up too badly, and certainly no man who knew about this could ever love me. My transactional view of God became rooted in my mind. I didn’t believe in the truth or the healing power of confession.
“So, I covered it all up. I lived a double life. And it was a train wreck. In college and in my twenties, my life was one bad choice after another with men. I was looking for love in all the wrong places, and my definition of ‘love’ was transactional and conditional. While I deeply longed for someone to love me for who I was, I didn’t let anyone truly know me—neither the men in my life nor my friends. I wanted everyone to think that I had it all together. Letting anyone in felt too scary. I was very good at fooling people, but this life was not fulfilling at all.
“When I was offered a job in Chicago, I was ready to leave everything behind me in Texas. I couldn’t hide anymore, and I couldn’t keep up with my lies. I wanted to change, but I still didn’t believe I could ever find a husband that loves Jesus and could love me for who I really was.
“At a wedding, I was introduced to my husband-to-be who had just become a believer a year before we met. Ultimately, it was through this relationship that I saw God's kindness in showing me that I could be loved. Creighton’s openness toward me was jaw-dropping. But to be honest, dating was clunky and difficult because I had never been in a relationship that prioritized Christ and purity before marriage.
“When we did get married, the love and grace shown to me by my husband stirred in me a desire to rely on and lean into the Lord as much as possible. I realized how important it was to walk in faith. The Lord had met me with so much kindness. But I was uncomfortable with His love because I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think I was forgiven for my past sin. I didn’t trust His redeeming power. I felt like I was pulling a U-Haul of luggage behind me that I could never be free from.
“We moved to Dallas, started attending Watermark, and I got involved with my community group, re:generation, and Women’s Bible Study. Through these ministries, spending time with His people and time in the Word, the Lord began revealing to me how much I struggled with pride, control, and anger. I was getting to know God deeply, and I was constantly getting sucker-punched with how much He loves me.
“When we became parents, I noticed how my past affected my parenting. I was really angry and short-tempered. I was in a new season of life, and that only brought the same struggles in new ways. Re:generation helped me tackle the lies in my past. Dealing with the emotional fallout from the rape in my teenage years was central to my healing, and God began peeling back the layers of my achievement and people-pleasing. I finally experienced the power of freedom from sin and shame that can only be found in Christ.
“Through my time in the Word and really surrendering everything to Christ, I found a new love, affection, and trust for the Lord. I believe He is who He says He is.
“Knowing God’s character in a deep way was such a game-changer. I still struggle with anger, pride, and control, but I trust that those feelings are things that God has given me to draw myself back to him completely. They are tools that He uses to remind me of my need for Him.
“And that's where I am now. I have a desire to obey and trust Him in freaky-weird ways that seem crazy to me sometimes. I am His no matter what I do. I can’t run because He’ll always chase me – He always has.”