A REDEEMED GIRL’S JOURNEY FROM PRADA TO JESUS

The year is 2001.

I am a wildly successful thirty-year-old Australian woman living in style in New York City. I’m dating a charming, funny and handsome man who is half French/ half American.

It was love at first sight. The first time I saw him, I was a goner. He was wearing a tux and a big smile and as my Texas friends say, “He made that tux look gooood.” He smelt so amazing that I nearly fell onto him when we were introduced as I lent a little too far forward while shaking his hand being sucked in by his intoxicating scent.

Six months later and my finger is home to a very nice and quite large platinum and diamond ring. He asked me to marry him while we were strolling through the Tate Modern during a weekend visit to London.

He represents high-end French alcohol brands which means we know all the latest bars and clubs in NYC and we get special VIP treatment whenever we go. We go often.

We dine out nightly at the finest restaurants the city has to offer.

Holidays consist of trips to the South of France where his family owns a gorgeous villa on a sprawling property complete with an outdoor kitchen, pool and neighboring castle. We are very efficient with our travel routine, which calls for regular NYC to Nice flights, jumping into a convertible and speeding our way through the vineyards to be welcomed by his stunning, fun and extremely hospitable mother. She is always waiting for us on the balcony, beautifully adorned in a glamorous caftan, hair swept back, lipstick perfectly painted on her bee-stung lips, her hand waving elegantly but enthusiastically as we whizz up the sweeping drive-way.

I have a great corporate job that I love. My closet is filled with Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Life is fabulous. Perfect, in fact.

But there is a problem.

While I enjoy all of the accoutrements of a glamorous life, there is still an undeniable ache …a cry in my soul that knew there was more to life than the best business class seats and Champaign cocktails.  This gnawing ache is small at first. But it grows and it won’t leave. The problem is inside of me– a restlessness that tells me there is something more. I don’t know how to describe it exactly but essentially, I feel dissatisfied. I am thirsty for something. I am a woman with a deep longing. There is an ache in my soul that is crying out for something more.

I want to know for what purpose I had been given the gift of life.

I want to know if my life matters.  Questions about life’s purpose and meaning. Questions about death and eternity. The questions niggle at me like a cluster of mosquito bites calling me to scratch and scratch and scratch.  Am I a ‘good person’? What does it take to be a ‘good person’? What is goodness? What’s it measured by? Who decides? Does it matter? The questions keep coming like a raging torrent of thoughts and I don’t have any answers.

I must find the answers to quench this thirst and stop the raging torrent.

My quest begins the next day at the nearby gym. I dutifully throw myself into a work-out regime worthy of Olympic-athlete status. By the end of my third day of step-class* I had snapped my Achilles in half. Turns out, when you snap your Achilles like that, it springs up in a coil all the way to the back of your knee. You think that’s bad? The doctors have to cut you open far enough so they can put their hand in your leg and pull the tendons down to stitch them back up again. BEYOND PAINFUL!

This high-powered, fast moving, driven young woman is now flat on her back for three months. As I recover I have nothing to do but wrestle with the big life questions that had been plaguing me for months. Just before I go mad, my own question swells within me. It winds its way through my body from the depths of my soul until it spits out of my mouth at a decibel level that could round up wild dogs in Alaska:

“GOD!!!! If you exist, who are you? What do you want from me????!!!!!”

Little did I know then, but the God of the universe heard this girl’s cry. Within a few months my life would radically change.

I met Jesus.

Jesus is the answer to all of life’s big questions. Profoundly, I came to know the One who said that He is the way, the truth and the life. Not only did He answer my philosophical questions, He filled that ache in my soul that knew I was created for something more.

I met Jesus in the eyes of my new neighbors who brought me food and checked to see if I was OK. I met Jesus in the story about the woman who was caught in adultery who faced death by stoning but whose life was spared by Jesus challenging the perfect, flawless person among them to throw the first rock.

I realized that goodness was indeed a standard that we find personified in Jesus…a perfection of love, acceptance and grace. I met Jesus in my friend, Marian Jordan as she spent day after day sitting by my side teaching me about God and how much he loves us.

I met Jesus in people who were living authentic, beautiful lives that centered around something other than themselves.

I met Jesus when I gave away my bed to a woman in Florida who had never slept on a bed before.

I meet Jesus when my ill mother allows me to feed her now that she can no longer do that herself. I meet Jesus when my mother who no longer knows who I am smiles at me and tells me that I am lovely.

I met Jesus when I stood in a slum in Manila and a homeless girl offered me her lunch.

I met Jesus and he exchanged my desire to be cool with a desire to care.

The raging torrent of questions is gone. There is peace and calm in my heart. I have the answers to life’s most important of questions now.

Life isn’t perfect but it is purpose-filled. And I’ll take that over the other stuff any day.

-Anita

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