Growing up with parents who had put their faith in Christ and attended church every Wednesday and Sunday seemed normal to me as a child. But as I grew older and attended public school, I discovered how rare this truly was. In fact, it was such a rare thing, that our beliefs set me apart from being accepted in many ways. As a preteen, this was devastating. My parents committed their lives to raising kids who loved God above all else. Their beliefs often conflicted with the activities and practices of my school atmosphere and peers. Believing our religion kept me from fitting in, I questioned my allegiance to my family’s ideals.
To add to my confusion, in fourth grade a doctor diagnosed me with scoliosis, relegating me to body braces for 7 years. While classmates were not outwardly cruel to me, it was as if I didn’t exist. My peers saw little value in my introspective, highly sensitive personality. As each year progressed, feeling ugly and uncomfortable in my own skin, my self-image plummeted. Being invisible was a tough enemy to fight. Thinking no one sees you leads to questioning your value to the world. I was aware that certain types of people and personalities bolster higher regard than others in our society. This narrative seeped deep within even though it was countered with truth at home and church; that I was deeply loved by God and wonderfully made in His image. Much of my childhood was plagued by a belief that something was wrong with me, which increased the need to withdraw. The peace, hope, and joy promised in Scripture were not realities in my life even though I thought I had made a profession of faith as a small child.
For the most part, I enjoyed attending our Bible-believing church. Receiving praise from adults for being a “good” girl, fed the longing to be seen. Scripture intrigued me. I believed the stories were true and desired to learn more. But in middle school, I began to disconnect and struggle with doubts. I knew about God and what He sent His son to do for us, but it was a head knowledge and not a personal knowing. God slowly revealed to me that I was relying on my parent’s faith and not my own.
Daily life became compartmentalized into school, home, and church, and I did not understand how to mesh them with the gospel truth. Attending church was a weekly ritual and not a place to worship and rest in who I was in Christ. I lived with sadness, frustration, loneliness, and doubt because I was afraid to speak these things to others for fear of tarnishing my “good” reputation. It is no wonder I was despondent because there was no hope or purpose for life. All this angst led me to a low place where I finally recognized my great need for salvation. As hard as I tried to make it so, church was not my answer to the longings I faced. Neither was a group of friends. Being healed physically and being a “normal” kid was the answer I thought I needed. But none of these things could fill what I lacked. Only Jesus could do that.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Through the church, I was introduced to Jesus, and I am forever thankful for that. Without the faith of my parents being modeled for me, I wouldn’t have known where to turn to find truth. His work of grace on the cross was a gift I hadn’t personally received. The Gospel had always been a story about someone I wanted to know but couldn’t seem to find. Once I realized my own desperate need for redemption and restoration at the age of 14, I gave my life to Christ. I remember lying on my bed doing homework and feeling so heavy about the world and my life, dreading the thought of returning to the complexities of living with faith at school. My health issues and insecurities related to my predicament increased my shyness, and I became increasingly intimidated by others. No matter how hard I tried to connect with people, I never experienced full acceptance. I was a broken girl feeling unworthy of friendship, kindness, and love until Christ set me free.
My life was forever altered on that evening spent turning toward Christ and confessing my need. Even though my life has not been trouble-free since then, through reading the Bible, I understand that God never makes this promise.
“In this world, we will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I am an overcomer. In Christ, I am at peace. Through a major spinal surgery, loss of a child, and caring for my terminally ill mother before she passed, I have known His presence and peace in a tangible way. When we stop relying on things, people, and institutions to save and meet our needs, we come to the place where we meet God face to face. We transform from one glory to another as we seek Him first in our lives. Life always has its challenges, but I now believe God created me uniquely for a reason. A reflection of the Father, I am beautiful in His sight and created for good works. He rescued me from myself, and I am forever grateful He did! When faith becomes your own, you know it. I hope that you have experienced the saving faith of Christ in your own life as well. If not, today is your day.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. “Romans 10:9,10