Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, 1

I walked into the counseling office, barely holding my heart together as, little by little, I felt it shredding inside my chest. When had things gone so wrong? How far do I travel back in my history before finding where the pain all began? And at what point did my heart start to go off the rails? 

Now that imminent danger had passed, I had space to explore my past – all of it. 

Psychologists have fought for years over what molds a person into what and who we are. Is it biology? Is it environment – home or otherwise? Is it traumatic experiences or over-sheltering of parents? Is it our own sin-filled souls? There are so many things that contribute to who we are and who we become. The honest answer is that it is all of those things and more. 

As I sat in the chair and thought of my past, I saw the pain stretch out before me, daunting and unending.

I realized as I talked with my therapist that the further I went back in time, the further I needed to go. I felt an overwhelming sense of grief as realization struck me of the immense suffering I have endured throughout my life. How do you unwind a ball of twine so tangled and tightly wound? Yes, people have hurt me. Yes, people have betrayed me. Yes, people have failed me. And, yes, I have done all of those things to myself. How do any of us survive this world and what is the point, anyway? 

Don’t stop reading.

Truth is, we are all broken people, sin infecting our souls – every last one of us. We fail ourselves and each other every single day. Perhaps unwittingly, but we fail just the same. So who is to blame for all the pain and dysfunction in this world? We all are. 

But there is good news. 

Jesus never hurt or betrayed or failed anyone, and Jesus knows what it feels like to be hurt and betrayed and failed. Yet, his love is so deep, so full, so free, so powerful that he not only forgave all the wrong done to him, he died for all the wrong done to him. He loved us so much that he suffered in the Garden and suffered on Calvary and suffered excruciating separation from his Father. 

This is something I struggle to wrap my mind around. 

I confess that this is a hard concept for me to grasp and, even after decades of his faithfulness to me, the walls go up. The walls go up when I get scared. The walls go up when I feel threatened. The walls go up when I feel weak. The walls go up when life feels out of control. The walls go up when I’m tired of the battle. The walls go up when someone disappoints or hurts me. The walls are always going up. Yet, Jesus loves me through it all. Even when I can feel my heart beating hard and stubborn inside my chest, he keeps on loving me. Why?

Jesus knows what it is like to be human. 

He has suffered the daily grind of life. He has suffered humiliation and rejection. He has suffered the loss of loved ones. He has waged war against temptations to his limited human flesh. He knows what it is like to be hungry, tired, distraught, sad, loved, unloved, all the same emotions we struggle with in life on a daily basis. He understands our frame because he has lived in one. Sinless, yes, but it was a finite human body with human needs and limitations and emotions all the same. 

He was not born knowing he was God incarnate. 

He grew up being taught the scriptures, learning as he grew up that he was the Messiah, growing into the knowledge of what that meant for his future. He knew, because the prophets had written about him. 

So, what is the point?

I’m not really sure, other than it brings comfort to my pain-filled soul knowing Jesus suffered in life like I do, knowing he has compassion and unending, unfettered, unconditional, and too often unrequited love for me. And this is what calms the storm inside as I sit in that chair and stare at the unending stretch of pain threatening to consume my soul. Jesus tenderly holds all of my pain (no matter the source) along with all my tears (shed and unshed) in his gentle, loving, compassionate hands. When my heart is hard, he ever so gently massages it until it relaxes in his embrace, never getting frustrated with me, never laying my heart aside, never abandoning me to my pain. 

So what is this to you?

My friend, if you do not know my Jesus, he will do the same for you. If you do know Jesus, remember that he will never let you go. And whether you know him or not, never forget that you can trust him even when you can’t.  

Dear 20-Year-Old Self, Live Like You're Loved

Driving home from campus today, Hawk Nelson's song, "Live Like You're Loved," played on the radio. I was thinking through the lyrics as I listened and found myself so happy that I am so well loved by my Lord Jesus. I couldn't help but think of different seasons throughout my life and realize I have been "loved" in so many different ways by various people (all types of love, not just romantic love). But, what is love? How do people in our society think of or define love? How did I view love when I was twenty? 

What would I say to my 20-year-old 
self about love if I could? 

I would tell myself that "LOVE SETS YOU FREE."

I would also say, "Engrave 1 Corinthians 13 on your heart! Hardwire it into your brain!" 

The Way of Love - 1 Corinthians 13

13 ... Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ... 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(ESV, via, to see what else the chapter says about love.)

These verses provide a great tool of measurement whereby you can examine yourself and how well you love others. At the age of twenty, I did use it as such.  Where I failed was in not using it to measure the love of those who claimed to love me. If I could, I would drill this need into the brain of my 20-year-old self.

Is the one who claims to love you patient and kind? Do they envy others or boast in themselves? Are they arrogant or rude? Do they insist on their own way? Are they irritable or resentful? Do they rejoice at wrongdoing or do they rejoice in the truth? Do they bear up under things? Do they believe in and hope in and endure all things in faith? Do they have faith and hope and love abiding in their hearts in such a way that the fruit of the Spirit is displayed in the day to day way in which they live? 

Do you expect this high and holy way of love from yourself? And do you also expect it from others - especially from the one with whom you think you want to spend the rest of your life? Do not let the temptation to settle for less EVER WIN! 

To my 20-year-old self I would say, 
"Live like you're loved, because you are!

Be Strong and Courageous...

The cover of this book tells a story no one knows but Jesus and me. I doubt I could ever tell the whole of it. Too much would be lost in translation. But I will tell the story of the day I found this journal.

It was the last day of finals of my Sophomore year at CIU, December 8, 2017. My last final being at 5:00 p.m. I met three of my boys in town for dinner. After a very long day of going in and out of the cold, wet weather, I wanted to go straight home. My youngest, however, wasn't ready to call it a day. He wanted to stop at one of his favorite shops on the way home: BAM (Books-a-Million) or World Market. BAM won out.

Perusing the inspirational book aisles, I decided to peek at the journals. This one caught my eye. I reached for it, and as I did the Word printed on it took hold of my heart. Like tossing a pebble into a pond, my mind and heart rippled back to a young girl of 13 reading a letter from a pen pal who had shared his life verses during a time of desperate need for her. Joshua 1:8-9. Paul had no idea the profound affect that letter and those verses would have on me. 

The amazing thing about ripples is, they are never in one direction and I found this verse rippling into my future, as well as my past, seamlessly connecting them by a beautiful thread called promise. At the close of my first Sophomore semester, it was as if God were saying, "Look! See everything I have brought you through? KNOW that the same courage I have given you throughout all your yesterdays is the same courage I give you both today and all your tomorrows. Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be discouraged. I am Jesus. I am your Father. I AM and I am yours. I will be with you wherever you go, every step of the way." 

There is power in the Word of God and I felt His power that night. With His power came peace that only He can give. I admit that I am not particularly looking forward to a Spring filled with difficult classes. I want to learn, yes. Learning in such a time crunch is another matter altogether. But, just as my Father has been with me through every other semester, I know he will be with me in this one, as well. He loves me. He is the one who called me to this path. He will not call His servant to a place where He does not go or where He will not provide all that is needed. 

"Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Part of my calling is to to become a professional counselor so I can help others in ways I have been helped. Another part of my calling is to share with others, through writing fiction, articles, or blog posts, what the Lord has taught me through my personal experiences. A question one of my dear writer friends put forth on her wall this week was, "If you could tell your 20-year-old self one thing you wish you'd known then, what would it be?" My answer to her question was this:

"I could write a book on things I would tell my 20 year-old self. The biggest thing would be to keep obeying God no matter how much pain it brings into your life because that pain is far easier to bare than suffering the consequences of even one disobedient choice."

I had no idea this would set my mind to listing several things I wish I could advise myself at the age of 20, but when I sent a list of seven things to her via messenger, she said, "That's a blog!!" And so here I am, blogging about it. There's a story behind the answer I've given here. It's the story I refer to in my opening paragraph. There's too much to tell and, if I told you, too much would be lost in translation. But, perhaps I can tell you parts of my story a little at a time. Are you game?

Linnette R. Mullin is the author of Life-changing Romance. Her debut novel, "Finding Beth," is a multi-award-winning novel which may be purchased at or It is available in paperback and Kindle. You can visit her full website by going to or clicking the "Home" button. You can also find her on Facebook. Linnette is a mother of four amazing sons, the owner of one beautiful mini-rex bunny, and a full-time student working toward her Masters in Clinical Counseling. Jesus is her Hero!