BY MADISON RANSFORD
I truly don’t have a number for the amount of Madison Ransfords this earth has seen. There’s an athletic, involved, YoungLife enthusiast. There’s also a "life of the party” Madison who thrived amongst attention. And yet, there’s also a Madison who would put anything but God first, and found the highest level of enjoyment in angsty music, incense, and tapestries. Needless to say, my individuality was anything but the word constant.
Although God gave me the life I have lived for special and unique reasons that I can now seek infinite worth in, the “Madisons” I portrayed were far from the reality of my life. My mom did everything in her power to raise three children on her own amongst financial issues and a crippling recession, but this was not easy for anyone in my family. Each of us coped with the hardships we were facing differently, and I certainly can’t say my methods provided authentic healing. The idea of being vulnerable, and sharing with anyone what I truly went home to, was terrifying.
I believed the lie that my best friends, my boyfriend, my teammates, even a counselor or a therapist would treat me differently if they knew the truth. I lived convinced that the people closest to me wouldn’t want to associate with me if they found out my life was anything but perfect, and that not a single person would understand. And the last thing I wanted was to re-live the hurt consuming my home by bringing light to it in relationships outside of my family. I lived a double life. I craved full control of the perception others had of me, and the answer I gave to each of my worries was hiding my struggles, weaknesses, and heartache underneath a blanket of “perfection”.
Because of this, I completely lacked a strong and true sense of identity. I merely mimicked the “perfections” I saw around me. Which wasn’t entirely a bad idea as it kept me in check at some points in my life. But, when I was thrown into different circumstances, and the perceived idea of perfection shifted from the “good girl”, to let’s say… a “baddie”, it led me to heartbreak, dissatisfaction, a loss of hope, and without even a single mask to hide the hurt. This is exactly where I was when I accepted that perfection will never be found within humans, and chose to acknowledge the true definition of perfection that lies within Jesus.
Without Him in my life, I chased perfection that told me “not taking it too seriously”, and partying off the pain of being cheated on, would be helpful. That being vulnerable was a sign of weakness, the only way a guy would fully value me was for my appearance, and my future was empty if my wallet was, too. All while missing out on Jesus’ love, the kind of perfection that told me my flaws and struggles are simply a part of the Madison He intended to bring to this world all along.
John 15:2 says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful.” He allowed me to identify parts of myself I was blind to, good and bad. Traits that were hurting me, and desires and joys I didn’t even know I contained. He proved to me He is kind, patient, personable, and He is not only what we should strive for, but allows us to heal from the brokenness we endure. Killing two birds with one stone, to say it lightly.
God is rich in love, and He is slow to anger. He has a kind heart, He is faithful and forgiving, creative and constant. Trustworthy, truthful, and tranquil. He answered my prayers, and built me a team of women to guide me through my suffering and laugh with me from utter joy, despite me even knowing. Plus, He gives better gifts than Santa Claus himself.
Those are simply words, though, without knowing someone who embodies them. If it was easy to imitate words, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would have found a way to satisfy that void long ago. I tried everything to be someone who had it all, but the truth is it’s impossible to do that alone. Even when I thought I had it all, I was still longing for something more, and would eventually reevaluate my character, discover a new form of perfection to chase, and a new Madison would arise. But God, He is perfect and He doesn’t change. He is an undeniable, incredible definition of perfection, one I will never stop chasing. The way He has carried me to this point has been above and beyond what I considered perfect.
Ephesians 5:1 states that we should “be imitators of God, as dearly loved children”.
We become the patterns of what we spend the most time studying, and surrounding ourselves with. We hold onto sweet nothings about how to become better men and women, but only the honest perfection found in Christ alone can transform us into the individuals we long to be. God is the reason behind my joy and all of my best qualities. He reminds me to find the good in others, and help them see their own good. He gave me a newfound power to find strength in my weaknesses, and use hurt and heartbreak to help and relate to others. He allows me to resist judgement, and gave me a desire to be as selfless as Him.
I suppose people could assume this is another phase of mine. But I have to note, I chose this life and chose God when it was against all that I surrounded myself with. That’s the difference between conforming, and transforming. I wasn’t conforming, imitating, or mimicking anymore… I was transforming. The world responds to our innate desire of conforming, while God speaks to the desire of our souls to transform us into the men and women we were created to be. I have watched people around me conform all too often. But now that I know that Jesus is the answer my soul has been searching for, I want to help other people to experience Him too.
We must learn and know who God is, to imitate Him. We must let Him guide us to know true loyalty. We must follow His guidance to know how giving He is. We must make mistakes to know real grace and forgiveness. And we must live this life out until the end, to fully value His constancy. He is present. He is never changing. He is committed, and I am committed to getting to know the Madison I was made to be.
This is the perfection my heart has been asking for my entire life, until now. This is transforming into my genuine self found in Christ alone. I encourage you to find yours.
If you connected with this story and want to speak with someone about it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.