This week we welcome Michelle Thorne, a 2000 Mercy Graduate. Michelle came to Mercy with the mindset that she was fine, but God quickly showed her otherwise. In her time since graduating, Michelle has become a published author, lives and works in China, and chooses to carry out her freedom in Christ each and every day. Thank you, Michelle for sharing!
When I was younger, I thought freedom was doing whatever I wanted. I dreamed of traveling the world and having anything I wanted. I could imagine my glamorous life in detail, a life where I didn’t have to answer to anyone about anything.
Then, I got pregnant. I wasn’t married, nor was I close to being married. I was alone and afraid, and I felt tethered to my sin. Forced to make adult decisions, I began to look for a place to live, a doctor, a prenatal vitamin, and a way to get out of the prison I felt I was in.
I chose, after much prompting and little options, to apply to Mercy. I didn’t think I needed help, just a place to stay while I was pregnant. God knew otherwise. I was accepted to the Monroe Mercy home in October of 1999, and I went begrudgingly.
I arrived dragging myself in the door, each step heavier than the last. When I got there, I was totally offended in the first meeting I had with the director at the time. They took away what I thought was every freedom I had. I thought that I knew everything, and I wanted to leave. I had no other options though, and so, I gathered my things and moped down the hall to my new room.
I spent weeks thinking about what I was missing. Heavier and heavier I grew. My anger was old and potent, and it was aimed at God. My heart, my mind, and my sheer will were all bound tightly inside, leaving me deflated.
While at Mercy, I began to read through the Bible to prove there was nothing wrong with me. I was going to show the Mercy staff that I was fine and didn’t need them, but God had something to show me in the book of Isaiah. It was just a short piece of a chunk of Scripture about Jesus. It said He was “a man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief.”
When I read this, something stunning happened. I realized that Jesus could relate to me, and I could relate to Him. We both knew suffering. We both knew sorrow and pain and grief. It was a start.
After that, I wanted to know Him. I wanted to know if we could relate to each other in other ways as well. Before I knew it, I began to dig through the Bible and read and pray and ask questions out of an intrinsic motivation, not an obligation. Who was this Jesus? What was this love He modeled for us about? How did He love? Why did He love? Who did He love?
I began to discover Him. As my son grew in my belly, God grew in my heart. He loved people like me. He didn’t expect me to be perfect, but to seek out forgiveness and follow Him. We shared hope and love and being misunderstood at times.
This slow and sudden unveiling of the character of God taught me about who I am in Christ as I learned who Christ was. Unexpectedly, I was lighter. I was like a balloon filled with helium let loose to the sky. It wasn’t the course I was on that mattered but what, or rather Who, I was filled by.
I chose to make an adoption plan for my son, and when I gave birth to him, my world changed. Looking at him, I was confident in my love for him. He was mine. There was nothing my son could do to take my love away from him. That experience taught me God felt the same way about me, and with that knowledge, I learned that I was deeply loved.
In March of 2000, I placed my son for adoption, but I was no longer alone in the overwhelming emotions that went along with grief. I had a partner, a leader, a friend. I knew that Jesus understood me in the midst of my sorrow and pain, and that confidence kept me close to Him. It still does.
The rest of my time at Mercy was a daily practice of giving in to the journey I was on and focusing on Who I was journeying with. The “freedoms” I thought I lost when I arrived at Mercy had actually weighed me down. The freedom in Christ I came to carry actually carried me.
That’s what Christ does. He lifts the burden, and He lifts the burdened.
In this broken world, it can be hard to recognize freedom. Freedom is not getting what you want, but it is being filled, known, and loved by the One who wants you. It is knowing you are not alone in the midst of sorrow. Freedom is the invitation to share your heart with the One who is the lifter of your head. While your circumstances may not change, Who you journey with can change you. I encourage you to open your heart, mind, and mouth to the Lord, and let freedom carry you.