Stories of Faith | Kristen Stansell
There’s a giddiness that starts bubbling up inside of me every year as Spring approaches. I love Spring Cleaning—the smell of windex, shiny sink faucets, and dust free baseboards. I joked with my husband that this year, we are going to have matching “his and hers” spring cleaning shirts for our one day event. I promised that we would start with pancakes and end with a celebratory dinner but he still groaned at the idea. Regardless of his participation, Spring Cleaning is going down! To me spring is like a fresh start—a very clean fresh start.
It’s not that I don’t regularly clean. I clean often, but it’s just not every day I vacuum under the beds, wipe the window seals clean, or dust every inch of the base boards daily. Needless to say, keeping my house spotless is very unrealistic, even though it took years of counseling to get to that point.
Growing up I had what you could label as OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder which is what eventually lead me to visit a handful of counselors. In order to maintain my inner peace, I had to maintain order in all outer parts of my life. I couldn’t experience calmness or ease until I had everything just the way I wanted it.
This obsession with cleanliness and order started very young. For example, at age five I was meticulously organizing my mom’s shopping cart. At age ten, I had to have my outfits completely wrinkle free and every strand of hair on my head in it’s place. In middle school, my drive for perfection turned into a full blown eating disorder. I decided I needed to be as thin as my dancer friends. I have a tall frame and couldn’t understand why my friends were so tiny and I was so not tiny. I wanted a “perfect” body. I starved myself all the way into the Intensive Care Unit, where my cardiologist informed me that if I didn’t eat on my own I would have a tube placed down my throat to feed me. I was in such a bad spot that getting food in my body immediately is what would make the difference in my organs functioning or shutting down. This is all just the beginning of my story but as you can see,
I traveled to extremes to perfect my outer world in attempt to create an inner peace. My drive for perfection with my body phased into a drive for attention from the opposite sex. I wanted reassurance from men that I was beautiful and desirable. While many of my friends were into sports, dancing, and other normal young adult things, my main focus was on finding a boyfriend. I didn’t only find a boyfriend, I found many. Once again, I found myself going to the extreme in pursuit of worthiness, beauty, and significance but it all lead me down a path that I didn’t truly want to be on.
I grew up in an amazing home. Not perfect, but I know my parents love me very much and they did the best they could to raise me in a christian home, christian school, and church. My world was saturated with Christianity, yet I wasn’t accepting the life transforming power that Christ has to offer. I encountered Him many times and knew He loved in me, but my heart was sick.
Instead of bringing my wounded heart and soul before Christ, I sought after what I thought would bring wholeness, healing, and peace. I sought after perfection, worthiness through relationships, and significance through my career. I searched and searched until my searching lead me to the depths of darkness.
In my mid twenties, I was driving home slightly intoxicated, just like many other nights. It was December 2009 and it was like my flesh new that I was about to have an encounter with the One who would heal my sick heart because my flesh was reaching for any last attempt to gratify itself. I wound up in many places that I shouldn’t be that month. I wasn’t the lady that I wanted to be. I was broken and unsure of how to put all the pieces of my heart back together. I gave of myself tirelessly in effort to gain a sense of worthiness but it all lead to a greater sense of emptiness. Driving home that night something rose up inside of me. Even though I physically didn’t know how it would be possible to turn my life around, I cried out loud and said to God, “Please God do something to help me! I don’t want to live my life the way I have been living it. I know I am created for more and I don’t want to live this way anymore!” I remember driving down 635 in Dallas hitting my steering wheel as I desperately cried out.
God heard my cry. Less than a month later, January 2010, I got invited, as a date to a conference at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. I thought it was silly to have a date at church but I obliged. Little did I know, that night was the night I would give my aching heart to Christ. That night, I said, “Lord, your will be done in my life. Not mine. Your will.” A transformation took place that I can’t even understand or that I couldn’t have done on my own. My world began to shift immediately. Evenings that used to be spent in bars, restaurants, and clubs turned into evenings spent at home diving into the Bible. It was like God’s hand reached down from Heaven reached down into the darkness, picked me up, and dropped me in a place of healing, restoration, and newness.
I wasn’t just rinsed clean that night, I was made new.My purpose and my worth was restored in a moments notice. I experienced the grace of God and I will never be the same again. I was lost and then became found. Broken and then made whole. I was bound up and then set free.
For years, I listened to the lies of the enemy and believed that I was nothing. Now I know, I am made in the image of God and set apart to do great things for Him. I allowed darkness to rule my life and even invited others into it but now I am ruled by the Light and pray that I can call forth destiny in hearts and lives that haven’t yet discovered the saving grace Christ has to offer.
Since 2010, God blessed me with an incredible husband who loves the Lord and loves me for me. We gladly serve together at our church, The OC Movement, in Southern California. I share the Word and snippets of my testimony, almost daily, through my business Instagram account, Crafted By. My purpose is to reach those that are in a place of darkness and blind to the saving grace of Christ.
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 2:21
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17
The giddiness that rises up when Spring begins to set in comes from a deeper source than cleaning products and flowers blooming—it’s the reminder that Easter is nearing. Easter is a time of celebration and remembrance of the price that Jesus paid to set me free. I am made new because He willingly gave up His life. He loves me (and you) so much that He surrendered His life just to give us life and spend eternity with us. That’s a reason to celebrate. That’s a reason to be giddy. Once we ask Christ to take lead in our lives, we never have to be the same again and purpose and destiny are birthed inside of us.
I believe that the same work that Christ did in my life He wants to do in all of us. Everyone’s story and journey looks so different but the one thing we have in common is that we are all in need of a Savior. Today, whether you find yourself close or very far from Jesus, just know that in a moments notice you can be embraced by the One who loves you most. He loves you and is waiting for you to cry out to Him. David so beautifully wrote in Psalm 18:6:
In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
He hears you.
One last note to leave you on. For those of you who have a loved one that is far from Christ, just keep praying. Don’t give up. They might not be interested in listening to what you have to say but their heart cannot reject your prayers.
Take a moment to think about why you love Easter and be sure to share that with your friends and family! Happy Easter!