A devastating break-up led Kahlia to re-examine where true love is found
Kahlia Thomas recently married the man of her dreams but it was in the midst of teen heartbreak that she learnt an important lesson about love that helped turn her life around.
At sweet 16 she remembers falling head over heels for a boy who did not hold the same values and beliefs that she did.
"I was so desperate to feel loved, that I told him I loved him after we had only been dating a few months," Kahlia recalls.
"Before too long, I was putting this guy first in my life and depending on him for my worth, security and identity. I allowed myself to drift away from my friends, which hurt them and caused me to depend on my boyfriend even more."
She stopped attending church with her parents because her boyfriend thought it was "a bit stupid" and admits that she discarded her standards in the area of physical intimacy.
"I had previously thought that the idea of saving sex for marriage made sense, but I never committed to it. Once I was in a relationship and desperate to feel loved and accepted, delaying sex did not seem that necessary. I gave myself away, physically and emotionally," she confesses sadly.
Meanwhile Kahlia says she assumed she was a Christian because her parents were but admits, "I loved living for myself and finding instant gratification wherever I thought best".
"I wrongly believed that Christianity was about being as 'good' as you can in order to earn God's approval. However, I think I knew, deep down, that I could never be good enough to live up to God's standards," she adds.
After dating over a year, Kahlia's boyfriend broke up with her suddenly, leaving her broken hearted.
"This led to me thinking: people come and go in life. There is nothing that we can put our trust into, without it surely letting us down at some point."
In search for life meaning and purpose that she knew God had to offer, Kahlia started attending church again and was invited by a classmate to a conference run by a university Christian group called Student Life.
At first she thought it would be lame, but eventually agreed to go as she wondered; "Apparently Jesus died for my sins but why couldn't God just say 'you're forgiven' and then ignore any bad things I do? After all, no one is perfect and God is forgiving, right?"
However, at the conference, Kahlia says she finally realised that her sins (wrongs against God) had a huge cost and that she needed to make herself right before Him.
"I acknowledged that God is perfect and good, and that I had offended Him greatly by turning away from Him and putting my own selfish desires first. I knew that I was guilty," she explains.
"Jesus claimed to be God and rose from the dead to prove it. I realised that because Jesus lived a perfect life, His sacrifice in my place was and is the only way that my sins can be forgiven. I decided to follow Jesus, knowing that I am a sinner prone to failure, yet trusting that God will change me and grow me in my Christian life."
After the conference, Kahlia began excitedly telling others about God's forgiveness and promise of everlasting life with Him.
"I am so glad that God has rescued me from my sins. I have been freed from the burden of trying to earn God's approval through good works. Yet, because I know that I am so undeserving of God's forgiveness, I am eager to obey Him.
"I have peace! There is no need to worry, because I know that whatever happens, nothing will separate me from God's love."
Following the conference Kahlia began dating a fellow Christian named Glenn.
Since they both had their identity, security and satisfaction in God, Kahlia says, "We were happy to take things slow and build our relationship on friendship. We did not need physical intimacy to feel secure and happy."
The couple were married in June last year and now spend their weekdays sharing God's love with university students.
"Our desire is to obey God and put Him first in our lives. We are both sinful people, but we believe that God will help us to have a good marriage. Jesus is a great example for us to follow," Kahlia concludes.
"Because of my faith in Jesus, I am challenged to humbly put Glenn's needs above my own, rather than expecting Glenn to satisfy me completely and meet all of my needs. Only God can do that!" •