#TransformationTuesday: Kristen Hemmings

The hashtag Transformation Tuesday (#TransformationTuesday) is a popular trend on social media – commonly used in the health and wellness world, where people post a ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture of their weight loss or fitness journey.

While I am all for the support and encouragement of health and wellness, what if we decided to share stories of the transformation within our minds and hearts?

The first Tuesday of every month will serve as #TransformationTuesday, where a special guest will share his or her story of being transformed through God!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Meet Kristen!

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I’m really honored that Jen asked me to share my story. It may not be much different than yours, but I am proud of where I’ve come from, what I’ve moved through, and what God is moving me towards.

I am the quintessential people pleaser. The first born in my family, I have always been a rule follower; a person who believes in structure and hierarchy- in fairness. In terms of my relationship with God, A + B always equaled C. If I followed His commands, was nice to my neighbors, and rewound Blockbuster movies before I returned them (hey – I came of age in the late 90s, so this was relevant at the time!), then God would reward me. I didn’t realize it then, but it was a very “works-based” mentality. I believed I deserved the blessings God would bring to me because I was “good.”

Right after college, I got married. I knew this was the next step God wanted me to take, and I fully believed He would bless our marriage. I was not prepared for marital strife and even less prepared for an extended period of unhappiness. As my marriage fell apart, I became a petulant child with God. “I did what you asked me! I am a good person!! Why isn’t my life working out according to MY plan?!?!” I felt lost. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t on a clear trajectory. I had no coping skills to deal with this and felt that God owed me better. Resentful, hurt, and immature I spent the next several years of my life “doing my own thing.” I had tried God’s plan and it didn’t work out – why would I trust Him going forward?

During this period of time, there was plenty of collateral damage. Not only was I turning my back on God, but I had completely let my own selfish thoughts take over. I was not a good friend. I was not a good daughter. I was not a good sister, Christian, coworker, or neighbor. I treated others in my life as second class to the real Queen Bee: myself.

My selfish nature never felt satisfied. I was always searching, always restless, always criticizing myself. I never spent time alone in those days as silence and solitude only reminded me of my failures. Loud music, fun parties, and big distractions were the norm. And I wasted one of life’s most precious commodities: time.

The exhaustion of life was catching up with me. I was tired of making my own choices and still feeling like a failure. I was tired of the guilt I would heap on myself. Guilt that my marriage ended and guilt that I had hurt people. As someone who believed in fairness, I deserved unhappiness because I had made others unhappy. What a sad picture of my life.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that things started to change. It was gradual. I met my husband, Brad, and through many conversations he helped me to see that failures and bad decisions don’t preclude us from happiness. I started to really listen to church sermons that would challenge me. Ones that would make me look deep into that dark place in my heart and confront some parts of me that I didn’t like. And then God took me on a journey that would ultimately bring me back to Him.

Now married, Brad and I decided to start a family. We suffered a miscarriage and then a year and a half of infertility. Every month brought hope, fear and pain as I worried I would never have children. Instead of pushing God away, I clung desperately to Him. I worshiped and read and went to retreats and talked to friends where I was real and raw. And my prayers changed from “please let me have a child” to “please let your will be done.” Because over the past 10 years I had learned that true happiness, true freedom, and true love come from walking with God through life – especially the low and dark places we do not want to walk. Like David describes in Psalms 23, I was the sheep, scared of the storm, trying to run away to escape the rain and thunder. But God, my Shepherd, came after me, and held me. And even though the storm raged on, I was no longer lost. And that brought a peace like I had never experienced in my life.

Eventually, I did get pregnant, and I had a beautiful baby boy. I had another boy two years after that. God continues to transform me through my children. Where I once had apathy, I now have drive. Where I once meandered through life, I now have purpose and intensity.

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God has shown me that what I do for myself in life will end with me, but what I do for others is eternal. It becomes something greater than myself and multiplies and continues. Each morning I try to stop and ask myself, how can I show God’s love today? What can I do for others? Please don’t take this blog as a declaration of having everything figured out. I still fight against my selfish nature. I still eye up the corner office, sometimes drawn towards worldly success. But God isn’t finished with me yet, and the comfort of walking through life with a God bigger than all of it steadies me and guides me.

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“In this life we will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” The words of Jesus give me courage to walk through the storms and give me a heart to help others who don’t feel like they can take the next step.

God is faithful. Seek Him out – whether that’s through prayer or community or singing “Jesus Loves Me” just to get through the day. You aren’t in this alone. You never were. You, like me, just got scared of the storm. But if you call out to Him, the Shepherd will find you and keep you dry and safe as you ride it out together.

-Kristen Hemmings

Interested in sharing your experience for a future #TransformationTuesday? Click here to connect – I would love to hear from you!

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