"You have a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. Whatever God promises, He will always deliver on." - Judah Smith
It is safe to say that I was raised in the walls of the modern day Christian church. I have been schooled in Sunday school for as long as I can remember and I have known that "Jesus loves me" even before I can talk. Growing up, I knew that Jesus loved me and was able to invite Jesus into my heart early on. I knew the mechanics of the Christian life, all the religious shenanigans, and the long to-do list of what I should do, who I should date (and when), and what was acceptable. In my young, impressionable mind, I thought being a Christian meant doing certain things on my own in order to be good enough, to be worthy enough.
The journey became a personal one for me in 2010 and the archive of my blog from that time reflects that of a young woman searching for life's true meaning, of a core that cannot be shaken no matter what. Naively, part of drawing myself closer to God at that time was out of a desire to have a better life and to ultimately become a better person. It was a time of intense struggle, looking good on the outside and doing all the right things, but slowly deteriorating on the inside. My then prayers evolved from shallow to deep, involving both meaningless and life changing requests that were answered (rather graciously). I thought I was finally getting my act together.
You see, and if you haven't picked it up, I was very big on "me" until this year -- the year that shook me to the core and made me see myself, my selfish ways, and what I believed in an entirely different way.
Without boring you with the details, I've always fought my way through life with this mentality, "I have to be worthy enough" and without having to point fingers or go through the rather tiresome details, I was a tough woman on the outside but a frail little girl who lacked self-esteem on the inside. I worked hard to earn my place and when it came to my waterloo, relationships, I dieted, changed my hair color and appeared perfect in order to be liked and most importantly, to be the chosen one. Since my entire being was saturated in what others thought of me and whether or not I was the better one or I was worthy enough, I had a lot of anger, disappointment, and self-hatred that was on the inside. I was looking for stability, and for someone who called herself a "Jesus follower", there were a lot of things that weren't in place, and most importantly, I wasn't at peace.
On the outside, it appeared as if I had it all together - I had a job that I was finally passionate about, had my own column and even things with my family were good - there were titles thrown around and prestige, but somehow I was hollow. At fist, I credited it over two failed, unrequited crushes that took over my being (somehow, not being good enough was still at the core of who I was) but I knew that there was something more.
First off, I have come to realise that I loved playing the victim. Whenever it came to failed would be relationships, unrequited crushes, and broken hearts, I was never at fault. I never once thought to myself that I only assumed friendly gestures to be something else. I was too prideful to admit that maybe, just maybe, the spark wasn't there and sometimes the success of a relationship had nothing to do with looks (something I thought I vaguely lacked) but chemistry and / or timing. I also thought that the universe was constantly working against me without realising that my universe was limited only to me and others were busy with their own. I always thought it was about me and how the world was responding to me without realising that life is just like that -- a mix bag of good and bad.
Second, I have come to realise that there has got to be more than this, that life was more than just one accolade after another. That it was more than just losing weight or that ridiculously yet rather gorgeous purse, and Instagram likes. For a minute, I got lost in it. Wasn't this the "amazing" life the world promise and I long longed for? And if so, why was I more disappointed than ever? Being involved with extremely high profile men (by involve, i mean texting lol) made me question my worth and instead of enjoying the attention, I daily fought my way through my own wave of insecurities, constantly asking myself was this going to last? What if a new, prettier girl came along? Where will my worth be found then?
These questions haunted me daily. And suddenly, I was losing grip of the "faith" I once believed in. I nearly drove myself into depression wondering why God wasn't answering my prayers and yet for others, the answer came so quickly.
I found myself questioning everything I believed in and most importantly, questioned why I was doing the things I was doing. An honest to goodness conversation with a trusted mentor shook me to my core. I saw myself for who I really am: someone who was always competitive, someone who judged others too quickly, and someone who thought she was never good enough. I then questioned my core beliefs -- was I doing the things I did because I wanted to get the answer to my prayers or doing it to put on a show? Did I want to "deserve" something?
That's when it hit me - I was in church, I was listening to podcasts, I was reading books and the Bible but I never embedded the truth of who Jesus is in my heart. Because if I, even just for a day, believed the truth about grace, I wouldn't for a second, be fearful, depressed or dangerously insecure.
I wouldn't see life as a competition because I knew I was taken care of and most importantly, I would stop basing my worth on the things of the world because I knew who was the only one who could satisfy my soul.
Ironically, gaining everything was what drove me to search for Jesus, the real Jesus. He was more than just a bumper sticker or a Sunday message, Jesus loved me. The kind of love that I long hoped for: the endless, forever kind of love that loved me even when I was in the dark. And while I still desire to meet a Tim Tebow / Jeremy Lin of my own, I know my future husband (seriously though, where are you?) could never satisfy the way Jesus was.
By truly experiencing Jesus in a real way, not in a "I go to church, I raise my hands in church" kind of way, I found a better understanding of who I was. I was no longer trying to deserve God's grace or his blessings, He gave them to me because He loved me, that's it.
And while I still work to achieve certain things, and while I still hope that one day my story would no longer end in heartbreak, I wake up with peace in the morning and for someone who has experienced so much fear and doubt, this was such a welcoming change.
A peace knowing that I am okay, I am loved, I am taken care of, and for once in my life, I no longer have to prove myself worthy because in the eyes of Jesus, I am already.
"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17