“You, Lysa, are not acceptable the way you are.”
That’s what Lysa TerKeurst told herself from the time she was in elementary school.
Sexual abuse and abandonment had led her to believe no one could love her — not even God.
But now, her view has shifted so radically that she runs a ministry dedicated to sharing His love.
As a young girl, Lysa faced sexual abuse, an absent father, and the ostracism of her peers. She wondered if she was worthy of love or if she would ever find acceptance.
“Trying to become more acceptable, more worthy, more loveable became my pattern, and worrying about what others thought of me a consuming, often condemning way of doing life,” Lysa said.
The traumatic events of Lysa’s childhood “left me completely lost,” she admitted. She and her sister felt abandoned and unloved.
Desperate for a change, Lysa’s mother decided to start bringing her young daughters to a nearby church. Christianity was about to change Lysa’s life—but not in the way she hoped.
“I liked the idea of having a religion and rules but I had no idea what it meant to have a relationship with God,” Lysa admitted. “I thought of God like a vending machine.”
“I put in what was required, and then He was supposed to give me what rule-following people deserved,” she continued. “As long as I kept up my end of the deal, God would bless me. I became ‘Lysa, the good girl.’”
Lysa’s life gradually became more stable, but she never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus. Her religion was simply something she practiced in order to earn God’s favor and blessing.
When she moved away to college, Lysa hoped to reinvent herself and transform her life. In a place where no one knew her past, she tried to shake off the pain of abuse and abandonment.
She grew popular, started dating a football player, and garnered worldly success. “At last, I had love, stability, and a plan for my future,” she believed. “Oh yes, and I had my religion.”
She still approached God as a vending machine instead of seeking a genuine relationship with Him. That is, until she received the news that her baby sister, Haley, was suffering from critical liver failure.
“I kicked into high gear making deals with God,” said Lysa. She promised God, “I’ll be better. I’ll follow the rules more closely. I’ll be kinder. I’ll give more to the church. I’ll attend more regularly. I’ll sacrifice whatever You require, God…just save my sister.”
But God had other plans, and one morning, Lysa’s mother called to tell her that Haley had gone home to be with Jesus.
“My view of religion and rule-following and making deals with God shattered,” Lysa said. “I snapped. I vowed I would never love God, serve God, or believe in God again.”
“I had tried to be good enough to earn His love but just as my earthly daddy had done, I felt as though my heavenly Father just turned away.”
Lysa responded by turning away from God. She rebelled against every rule she’d once followed to the letter, and she closed off her heart to His words.
Her life of rebellion culminated in a painful relationship and an abortion. Lysa was horrified with the person she’d become, but she didn’t know how to stop.
But God still had a plan. He reached out to Lysa through a Christian friend, who prayed for Lysa and shared Scripture with her.
It was Jeremiah 29:11 that finally cut through Lysa’s bitterness and warmed her heart toward Jesus. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, ESV).
“This verse painted a possibility that the God of the universe loved me not for what I did right but simply because I was His,” Lysa realized. “A child for whom He had great things planned.”
That simple hope transformed Lysa’s understanding of religion and brought her into a personal relationship with Christ.
From that moment on, she began to think of herself as “Lysa, a fulfilled child of the one true God.”
And that’s the reality that she wants to see other Christian women step into! Lysa founded Proverbs 31 Ministries as a way to encourage women to “know the truth and live the truth” that they are loved by God.
Proverbs 31 Ministries offers “tools, training, and events to help bring you into a closer relationship with Christ.”
The resources developed by Lysa and her team include podcasts, daily devotionals, books, and the annual She Speaks Conference.
This conference is all about directing women to find their purpose as followers of Christ and as writers, speakers, creators, and leaders. Just like Lysa, many women today hunger for a deep understanding of their life as a fulfilled child of God.
Above all, Lysa wants her ministry to help women engage with God’s truth—because she knows from personal experience that it can transform lives!