By Jen Bowen: I know something about grace.

The truth is I’m an adulterer, a liar, a cheat and a thief.  In many ways, my life is ruined.

I started early, with drug and alcohol abuse, countless boyfriends, and the turmoil of four high schools.  When my next relationship turned abusive, I turned my back on God.  I created a ton of wreckage over the next 20 years, and finally ran myself right into a brick wall.

The magnitude of my regrets often leaves me paralyzed, and there’s no way to go back and make things right.  The damage has been done.

Looking back, I realize that He knew the choices I’d make—to curse Him, to leave my marriage and destroy my family, and finally, to cry out to Him again in despair.  At the time, I didn’t think he was particularly interested in hearing from me.

And yet Grace whispered, “You can go on.  You can have a new life, a radically better life.  A life that shines with beauty and honor.”

It’s a pretty good deal, really.  Had I known, I think I would’ve come back much sooner.

And it’s nothing like I thought it would be.  Where I’ve found the most surprise is how deeply God loves me personally:  unconditionally, without fail or qualification.  God doesn’t do background checks.  This has been hard for me to accept -- that even “as is,” the Creator of the Universe wants to spend time with me; that nothing I’ve done to try and convince Him otherwise can change His plan for our eternal relationship.

He’s really stubborn about that relationship, if you want to know the truth.

His imagination and creativity aren’t hindered by my weakness or my past.  Instead, He’s teaching me that He loves the broken-hearted, messed-up folks like me. He’s teaching me that His Strength is made perfect -- perfect!-- in my weakness, and that I am made strong through my surrender.

As People of the Second Chance, we know first-hand that surrender is where the miracle happens and the second chances begin.  And I’m thankful for those miracles, even this far into my journey.

How has your journey been?  What has surprised you the most?  How do you share your story with others?