Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Do you ever look back on a time in your life and think to yourself, “how did I overcome that”? Often times I think that if we knew the outcome of a situation, then we would most likely act, feel and handle things differently. Over the past few years, a lot has happened to me that I wouldn’t choose, but there is none of it that I wish to go back on and change. It took my weakest moments to bring out my greatest strengths through my faith.
It took me over a year to write this blog post and finally have the courage to share my story with you. However, I know that through my brokenness, despite my weakness, I became stronger because of Christ in me, and maybe somebody out there needs to hear this story because they are going through something similar.
You know those memories from your childhood that you remember so vividly? With a major in Molecular and Cell Biology, a passion for calculus and organic chemistry, I always knew I had a different way of thinking and understanding than most people around me. I have a scientific/mathematical mind, a cognitive way of thinking and I reason my way to understanding. I have learned to question everything, because the more I know about something, the better I understand it.
I remember at the age of nine, kneeling down by my bedside, praying to God that my grandmother would be healed and that she would not die. It broke my heart when she passed away soon after, and even though my prayers went unanswered, I kept my hope in something bigger than me that I knew existed. Growing up, my mom would always tell me to pray. However, there was another part of me that wanted to believe my dad who constantly said, “it’s all a lie” or “don’t be fooled” or “religion is just a business.”
At the age of 22, I knew I believed in God, but would often question my faith and His existence. I dated someone for many years who was a Christian, but at the time I felt a strong resistance within me to open my heart to Christ. I remember repeating to myself over and over, “God, please help me”, the night I found out my ex boyfriend was cheating on me, and I didn’t see it at the time, but that’s exactly what God did. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knew that that was what it took for me to walk away from the relationship. There is something about the most unexpected challenges and events we go through that make us turn to God like no other time in our life. I never would have thought that the one thing that could destroy me, God would use to save me. Again, looking back I would never choose to experience the pain and heartbreak I went through, but I also wouldn’t go back and change any of it.
I used binge drinking, dating and socializing with friends and coworkers as a way of avoiding the pain I was going through and to prevent myself from actually confronting the situation I was in. I never let anyone see me cry and would wait until I was home alone or in my car to let the tears roll down my cheeks. I would go to bed early at night, sometimes as early as 7 or 8pm, and distracted myself with cooking, exercise or by binge watching Netflix. “Are you still watching?” would pop up on my TV screen at least once a day.
Despite the pain, I found myself feeling more and more peace, motivation, strength and love each month. It was in those silent moments of solitude that I avoided for so long, to prevent myself from being alone with my thoughts and emotions, where I felt God’s presence the most in my life. I knew something in me had changed when I was quick to forgive people who hurt me, and instead of trying to hurt them back, I would find myself praying for them and asking God to heal their hearts and help them with whatever they may be going through. My faith allowed me to bring my fears into the light and work through them. God had a plan for me all along for how I would come to my faith and a deep relationship with Christ. As I’ve learned, God always has a greater plan for us, and our purpose in life will always be accomplished through His will, not ours. No matter what we go through in life, the good, the bad, the painful, God will use it all for His glory and will grow us by His grace.
I don’t come from a Christian background and didn’t grow up going to church. However, at the age of 24, I was baptized and decided to fully commit my life to Jesus. I spent many years making decisions that soon turned into habits and eventually developed into who I became as a person. All the mistakes I’ve made, the people I’ve met and the emotions I have gone through brought me to the place I am now, and I truly believe it was all part of God’s plan for my life.
As my faith grew and I let go of whom I used to be, I found Jesus growing within me. The more we become like Christ, the less we become like those around us and less like what is considered “normal” in society. I became more and more aware of my words, actions, relationships and thoughts. My faith allowed me to finally have the strength to stop drinking for 6 months straight, the longest I have probably gone without drinking since I had my first sip of alcohol at the age of 15.
I know that a great source of stress and anxiety in my life came from my inability to control the people and situations around me. My faith allowed me to let go of a need for control, surrender my hidden inner pride and learn to trust in God. Pride is a powerful and dangerous sword to keep in our pocket. It can quickly destroy us from the inside out. Setting aside our pride is a big part of growing not just as Christians, but as humans. Our need for control and to know the outcome of every situation, in other words certainty, diminishes our faith and pulls us further away from God. With certainty, we wouldn’t have faith. My faith allows me to move forward in situations where I have doubt or uncertainty, and accept that I don’t know everything and cannot control everything in my life. The truth that I had been living by was not the truth.
Through a large presence on social media, I have learned how much we need to let go of our desperate desire to gain approval and attention from others, and must learn to see and love ourselves the way God does. This means seeing ourselves through the eyes of our creator and how He created us to be a reflection of His beauty. Two books I would highly recommend on this topic are Wild at Heart (mostly for the guys out there) and Captive (mostly for the ladies). However, I highly recommend that you read both!
Today, especially all throughout social media, we are constantly told to do whatever makes us happy. However, this is contradictory to what the bible tells us. As Christians, we are told to live our lives in whatever way that is pleasing to God. Here are some ways I have grown in my faith exponentially over this past year: reading the physical word (I often go back and forth between the NLT, KJV and NKJV), daily prayer, listening to sermons, worship music and through my church community.
Although it is hard for me to look back on whom I used to be two years ago, I am so thankful for every painful, uncomfortable and difficult emotion, event or relationship I have gone through because they have made me who I am today and brought me here by God's grace.