Since I’ve been at this blogging thing for a little while now, I wanted to take a moment to re-introduce myself and share my story again. I’ve had this on my heart to share for a couple of weeks and so I’m sharing this because I want to be radically obedient more than I want to keep being afraid and comfortable (funny how those two things go together, huh?) I’ll also link this in the My Story page, to make it easily accessible for the future. Be warned–this will be a longer post and a very, very raw post.
I was born and raised in a Christian home, was saved at an early age, and have been homeschooled all of my life.
When I was thirteen, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors gave her six months to live. She moved in with my family so that we could take care of her. This caused me (and my whole family) a lot of stress, as I was still trying to figure out who I was and my grandmother and I definitely not did get along–I would confidently say that it classified as verbal and emotional abuse, but I don’t want dishonor her memory or anything either. She’s family, I loved her, but loving her was often very hard.
The stress of taking care of a cancer patient plus the abuse caused several health problems in my life, and I fell a year behind in my schooling. This led me to spiral down and down, until I felt that I couldn’t sit around and wait for God to come through and rescue me anymore. I tried everything I could think of while I pleaded with God to either take me or take my grandmother out. Depression, cutting myself, looking at and reading inappropriate things, burning myself, not eating, planning to run away, seriously thinking about suicide, and more. No matter if I tried self-pleasure or self-harm, I could not escape. I could not find comfort. I could not find peace. My grandmother stayed with us for ten months, but the addictions that developed and were strengthened from that experience hung around and haunted me for much longer.
When I was fifteen, I really began to desire freedom from these addictions, but the shame that cloaked them was suffocating me. God was preparing my heart, and I eventually, tearfully, told my mom about it, and resolved that I could do better on my own once someone else knew about it.
I then learned that I could not break addictions in my own strength.
Then, at a youth camp when I was sixteen, I knew it was time. Time to break addictions once and for all. The messages that week began with how much and how faithfully God loves His people, and then quickly transitioned into a call to dedicate or re-dedicate our lives to Him. I went forward to where one of our youth leaders was standing and asked her to pray with me. Instead of feeling ashamed, I felt the most overwhelming sense of joy.
It’s certainly not what the devil had told me that I would feel if and when I ever tried to step out of the filthy cycle I was in. Shame, discomfort, fear, yeah, those were the things I had imagined that I would feel. That the voices in my head shouted that I would feel.
But no. Joy.
I couldn’t stop smiling, while I was crying buckets and trying to explain to her that I needed her to pray with me because I was beyond ready to be done with my repeated sin.
The next day, in our small groups, we were challenged to team up with someone and confess our sins to each other. Since I already vaguely confessed it last night and prayed to be delivered from it, I’m good, right God? I don’t have to share this really personal, shameful information about myself, right? I tried to justify it in my mind.
Do you want to be free? I felt God saying. Are you willing to commit to Me? To commit to reclaiming your purity in this area of your life? How much do you want this freedom? I committed to walking every single one of those steps up to that Cross to get to you. Are you willing to take every single one of the steps to get back to Me? I’ve already revealed to you what I plan to come out of this. Are you willing to go there?
Uh…uh huh. Yeah.
So God sent me a friend. Someone who jumped right up when our small group leader issued the challenge of confessing to your friends. Someone who waved her hand in front of my fear-frozen face amidst my inner conversation with God.
Someone who drew me aside and courageously told me her story. Someone who told me there was nothing I could say that would shock her or make her look down on me. Someone that I am eternally grateful to for pulling me along with her on this road to Christ. I told her my story, and I told her how God had revealed to me along the way that while He didn’t cause my addiction, He was going to use me to talk to other girls about it and bring freedom to those stuck in shame.
At camp, day after day, we were challenged to “get real” with each other and become vulnerable. And we did, particularly on the last night of camp. On that night, my youth group sat around in a big circle and shared our testimonies. Not the “I got saved when I was six” kind of testimony, but the “This is all of the crap I’ve been through and look how amazing God is: I’m still here.” kind of testimony. There was a lot of tears. There was a lot of Kleenex.
But there was no judgment.
No. No, instead we surrounded each other with hugs, empathetic tears, whispers of “Me too”, and intense prayers sent heavenwards from the mouths of peers.
One of the youth said something that night that stunned all of us with the magnitude of its truth. It was, “You’ve got to get all of the junk, the sin, the hurt, out of you; you’ve got to talk about it, or you’ll rot.”
Rot. A very apt description of what was going on inside many of us that night, especially me. Because while we do overcome by the blood of the Lamb, there’s a second half of the equation that I had been missing: the word of my testimony.
What happened that night of camp was the most biblical show of community that I had ever experienced: people encouraging me to get right with God, not judging me, and faithfully praying for me and keeping me accountable.
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
It takes courage to pursue God, learn the truth about who He says we are, and find freedom in Him. But I promise you, it can be done. Even better, He doesn’t shame you. He’ll woo you, pursue you, and sing over you, but He won’t shame you. There is nothing to fear in running to Him. He can and will redeem your story, perhaps even to tell others about it and help them come to freedom.
It’s one of the most exhilarating journeys. Don’t underestimate what God can do in Your life. He is faithful beyond our faithlessness.
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