I grew up in a family that always taught me to believe there was a God, and as a young girl I religiously attended church every Sunday. Everyone in my family considered themselves to be Christians, so I never had any doubt of whether there was a God. More importantly, I had a firm understanding that Jesus died and rose again as punishment for everyone’s sins. Therefore, knowing that I had done wrong things and needed forgiveness, I chose to believe that Jesus died for all I did wrong. I made this decision at a very young age. However, Jesus saving me and the rest world from our sins is about where my faith stopped. Everything else in life was up to me.
As I grew up, I was left striving to control every other area of my life other than my eternal fate. Once I hit middle school, it got progressively worse. As an insecure and awkward teenager and surrounded by a world that applauded academic success, I learned that achieving and performing well brought acceptance and love from those around me.
I latched onto this for almost the next decade of my life. I found a way to gain worth and love from those around me and even a way to accept myself. I had it all figured out: I had the full-tuition scholarship to college, the internships, the next step of graduate school, the jobs lined up, and the long-term boyfriend. The rest of my life was set up for success, and it was all due to MY hard work.
But I believe that God knew I couldn’t keep this up. He didn’t want me to have to do everything on my own. Because John 15:5, a verse I would later learn to cling to, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do NOTHING.” So, everything came crashing down. My engagement fell through, and my fiancé left me. My internships failed to lead to the jobs I planned. Even graduate school failed to come to fruition. I was crushed. All my hopes and plans for the future were but a mere memory, and I had no idea what to do next in my life. What’s more, I was diagnosed with depression and given anti-depressants by the psychologist and doctor that just left me feeling numb.
My little brother, whose life had recently been changed by God, suggested that I go meet with the college group that had led him to know Jesus. Out of desperation I went, and what I saw changed my life. I met people who were not only forgiven by Jesus, but who had their lives radically changed by coming to the understanding that Jesus loved them individually so much that He wanted a personal relationship with them, and that He would stop at no cost, even his own life to win each one of them. This knowledge gave them extreme confidence that they were loved, and that they had a purpose of extending that same love to everyone. I was hooked, and for the first time I truly experienced God’s love.
This love changed everything.
I finally realized that God loved me no matter what I was able to achieve or not achieve. I realized that my self-worth came from the knowledge that the God of the universe loved me greatly. I began to truly understand, like Isaiah 43:4 says “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life”, that I was precious in God’s sight. After experiencing this kind of love, I began to live a life that no longer depended on me, but on God.
In the end, it wasn’t enough for Jesus to die and rise again for the world’s sin. It took Him picking me up from the pit of shame and defeat. It had to be more than a fact or a story; it took Jesus personally dragging me up and showing me unshakable love.
If you want to know more about having a relationship with God through Jesus, check out:
Do You Know for Certain?