I remember tweeting about God pushing me to share my testimony sometime last year and I never did. In all honesty, it’s probably been much longer than a year that He’s been leading me to write this. Out of fear of what people will think, anxiety, and just a desire for my own comfort I’ve resisted. Even as I type this now I keep asking God if He really wants me to do this and His answer is a resounding yes! So here I am. You’d think that He is literally asking me to speak in front an auditorium filled with hundreds of people, because in writing this I feel like a deer in headlights; there is extreme panic and fear. However, there is nothing more reassuring than the grace and love God shows me daily even despite the past.
As I go deeper in my relationship with Jesus I can’t keep to myself how I’ve gotten to this point. Sure i’ve probably shared bits of my story, struggles in college, and things of that nature; but I don’t believe i’ve told anyone my full testimony. In fact, i’m probably the most reserved person you will ever meet. I like my life very private. I’m learning though, that what God has brought me through and what He’s done in my life will not do His Kingdom any good if I keep it inside. I’d like to think that there’s some girl…or guy…out there struggling with things I’ve struggled with and they’re just looking for a way out; looking for an answer; looking for fulfillment; or just looking for peace. I pray that in finally sharing this testimony someone may come to know Christ and experience His love as I have.
From the very beginning of my life, God was already working miracles. I was born at 27 weeks, weighing only 2.5 lbs, and statistics would say I wasn’t supposed to make it. Modern day medicine and science would speculate that I should have been born with some birth defect or chronic health condition because of my prematurity; but to the glory of God I wasn’t. From that day March 17, 1995 at 11:44 AM God chose me and gave me life, even with the odds against me.
I grew up in a Christian household. I remember going to children’s church a few times. I even remember having a little children’s Bible. I enjoyed hearing about Noah and his Ark, Adam and Eve, and the Creation of the Earth. I knew of Jesus, but I can’t say I fully understood the weight of what Jesus did for me on the cross. At that age my faith was really shaky. Although for the most part elementary school was great, I do recall some low moments of teasing and bullying, believe it or not. Looking back, people that I thought were friends were so cruel. Even some adults, now that I think about it. I remember being called a certain 4 letter word and other names by classmates. Administrators only implied that I probably did something to deserve it. In retrospect, those few instances subconsciously took a toll on me.
Going into middle school, this is where I believe the foundation of my faith actually started to crumble. We would pray in the morning before school, but I mostly likely was only halfway paying attention. I don’t recall going to church consistently or even having a relationship with Christ. At that age, He was truly the farthest thing from my mind. I was more concerned with fitting in to be honest. Grades of course were a top priority, but I couldn’t really relate to the people in my advanced classes nor to the people in my regular classes. In my advanced classes I felt like everyone was so much smarter than me. They got the concepts so much quicker and I was always struggling to keep up. I was also one of the only only black girls in my advanced classes so that was difficult in itself; hardly seeing anyone who looks like you. In my normal classes I also felt out of place because, well…middle school was very cliquey. I did make friends (those of which I still keep in touch with to this day ♥), but I hardly saw them due to differences in our schedules. I remember going through middle school simply longing….feeling like something was missing. There was a huge void that I was trying to fill and it surely wasn’t with Jesus. I can admit this now; I was extremely boy crazy. Like I probably liked a new guy every other week. Along with this lustful spirit, I struggled with rejection…because none of these dudes were feeling me (and praise the Lord they didn’t!). Looking back I kind of laugh because I was a hot mess and any type of “relationship” would’ve made it so much worse. I had a distorted view of myself and I struggled with my self esteem heavily. What I truly needed was for someone to tell me just how much God loves me, how beautiful I am in His eyes, and how nothing in this world determines my worth.
Fast forward to high school. I experienced the same struggles. Still longing for something to fill me up. Still longing to fit in…to be a “normal” teenager. Even with being a cheerleader in both middle school and high school, I still had this feeling of “I don’t fit here”. Cheerleading itself was so much fun to me, but typically when people think of cheerleaders they think “outgoing, loud, flamboyant”. I was quite the opposite in other social settings. I’ve always been the introverted type. With that, the whole high school routine got monotonous quick and there was a series of events that ultimately led me to my relationship with Jesus.
My sophomore year, I had finally had enough of being single and really wanted a boyfriend. I had a very Jesus sized void and was looking for someone to fill it. I remember thinking to myself, “maybe my standards are too high.” “Maybe I just need to give someone a chance.” Long story short, I did, and it was interesting to say the least. We only saw each other at school and talked on the phone, but somehow this guy convinced himself that he loved me. I was so anxious to be in love with someone that I just went along with it. His actions and words definitely did not line up with that at all. I remember this guy specifically telling me I was the worst girlfriend he had ever had. It really hurt in the moment, but I laugh now. Come to find out, this guy just couldn’t let go of his ex and he may or may not have cheated on me. There was nothing in that relationship that was helping me grow as a person and eventually it ended. I remember crying to my dad about it, but in hindsight the breakup was one of the best things to happen. Still longing for something, I didn’t understand what I understand now. God was using these moments of pain and tough uncomfortable situations to draw me closer to Him. I just felt so empty on the inside. I wasn’t receptive to God tugging on my heart and I thought I needed something in this world to fill me up.
A couple months passed after that situation. Although I don’t remember the events leading up to the actual day, I do remember feeling so broken, so worthless, and like my life here was meaningless. I don’t know what I was going through to be in such a dark place but I wanted to end my life. I was sitting on the bathroom floor just bawling my eyes out. Thinking about that moment now it seems so unreal, but it happened. I remember searching ‘painless ways to kill yourself’ on my iPad. I clicked on the first link that came up on a Yahoo Answers page and I forget what all the other responses were; but the one highlighted as best answer said something along the lines of “Jesus values your life so much and loves you so much.” I broke down. I can’t explain what I was feeling but it was like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders reading that one statement. After that I remember thanking Jesus for my life and I just sat there for probably another 5-10 minutes crying. I had so much peace though. In that moment Jesus literally saved my life. I don’t think it was an accident that was the first link I clicked on. I would say that day was my first real encounter with Jesus.
Now after reading all this, you’re probably like this girl’s life is so depressing. Or if you know me personally you’re probably thinking, “I never noticed…” or “you didn’t tell anyone”. This is true. I am quiet by nature and my first tendency wasn’t to go open up to someone about my life. But I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. I’m so grateful for all of this because it’s ultimately what brought me to Christ. It took me a while to see myself as He sees me, to love myself as He loves me, and to embrace the calling He has put upon my life. Nevertheless, here I am now so much stronger because of it. But there’s a little bit more to my testimony…
Moving forward with my life, I wanted to know more about this Jesus. I did have a physical Bible but I didn’t really read it. The print was super small and it was in a translation that kind of went over my head. I downloaded the Bible app and made an account around December 2011. I went back and the first scripture I have highlighted is John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. With that verse and other scriptures, I was beginning to understand just how much God loves me. I had a growing desire to know God’s Word for myself, not just what I grew up being told.
I wanted even more Jesus and I wanted to know my purpose for living. I remember seeing my mom read Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. One day I got it out of her closet and started reading it myself…or attempted to. It was a daily devotional and I kind of just stopped keeping up with it. But at this point in my life I was falling in love with Jesus. I was so content with the growth that was happening. I was happy with life.
Then I met a guy. I was finally in a place of trying to get my life together with Jesus and being content with just me; and all of sudden this kid comes out of nowhere. I was honestly not having it at first; like I would not give him my number at all. But somehow we eventually did exchange numbers and he grew on me. That relationship challenged me in the best ways and also the worst ways. This person saw my flaws; my anger, my insecurities, and my brokenness; and pushed me to be better. At the time, I seriously struggled with relationships in general. I did not like people and I would explicitly say this. Outside of my family he was probably the first person to call me out on my attitude. I liked that type of honesty. I was beginning to feel like I found, in this world, what I had been longing for…thinking it was exactly what I needed to fill me up. As a baby in my faith I didn’t know how to handle that. I had just learned what it meant to put Jesus first in my life and I didn’t know how to translate that over into a relationship; how to balance spending time with Jesus and also having a boyfriend. On the surface things were good, but over time I began to idolize him and the relationship. It got to the point where I would think about him all the time, everyday. I made him a god in my life and I was growing distant from the One true God because of it. There were times when Jesus would try to get my attention, but I would always pull away from His leading. I was thinking, “how do I make God happy and how do I make this person happy?”. There was no happy medium and I eventually chose the guy all together, neglecting my relationship with Jesus. Things started to go south quickly. Satan saw I wasn’t as close to God anymore so he had a field day in my life. I was always worrying, angry, bitter, and possibly even a little jealous. I eventually reached that place of feeling so empty inside again. I knew what it was, it was Jesus tugging on my heart to come back to Him. I remember this moment so clearly, like it was yesterday. After sitting on the front porch praying on it for a while God told me to break up with him, and I did, rather abruptly via text. It was probably one of the hardest things i’ve ever had to do in my life; and I grew to resent this guy and also myself for allowing him to take the place of Jesus in my life. I learned the hard way that if you put anything before God, He will destroy it. I’ve learned that no person or thing can fill the void that is meant to be filled by Jesus in your life.
I was heartbroken, but from that moment I was so committed to growing in my relationship with Christ. I ended up finishing Purpose Driven Life. I discovered the Pinky Promise Movement, and Heather Lindsey’s blog. I started to actually read my Bible more and meditate on God’s word. I started to go to two different Bible studies at my high school. I just talked to Jesus and enjoyed His presence. It was beautiful. I feel like that time in my life was the strongest my relationship with Jesus has ever been. I had so much peace, so much joy, and so much contentment. I just wanted to tell everyone about Jesus. This was my senior year of high school. During this time God really showed out in my life. I got baptized that year, I got an internship working with a dietitian (leading me to discover my passion for nutrition), I graduated with honors, and I got accepted into my dream school. Everything was perfect.
Then I started college and that’s when the tests came. More tests….yay! Yet another time in my life where I wanted to fit in. Part of me wanted to do the college thing, meet new people, “have fun”…but I quickly realized that most people’s ideas of fun weren’t necessarily mine. There was a slight moment in time where I lost myself. I was so busy trying to keep up with my peers and it wasn’t working out for me. It was in college that I began to fully understand what people mean when they say, “don’t follow the crowd”. It is so easy to get distracted. Choosing a life contrary to what is pleasing to God seemed normal. But I knew my standards, I knew my convictions, and I knew the reason why God put me there to begin with. Or at least I thought.
For a long time I thought I was solely there to study nutrition. My mindset was forget everything and everyone else. “Oh you’re telling me I need to take a break from studying…nope…you’re a distraction you gotta go!” “You go to parties, you’re a bit too wild for me…you can’t possibly tell me anything about Christianity.” I’m ashamed to say it, but this was my thought process for a good bit of the latter end of my undergrad life. I began to dislike and even cut off so many people because of it. There was no grace and no love. I was nitpicking the problems with everyone else but myself. I’m looking back at these years and although there were good moments, this was the worst of me. No Jesus at all, but my own flesh. This entire summer, even down to this very day, God has been showing me my heart. I am not a perfect Christian, nor will I ever be one; but God continues to show His Grace and His love toward me, even if i’m still a work in progress. In this process I’m relearning what it is to truly be a follower of Christ.
Over these 22 years He’s shown me just how much He loves me and values my life. It took me a while to realize, but i’m so grateful for God’s relentless pursuit of me and unconditional love for me in spite of my mistakes, my sin, and just simply choosing my flesh and other gods that are not Him. He loves me and you so much that He gave His only Son. Jesus forever remains the standard of how we should strive to live in each day. We may not always get it right, but if we were perfect we would not have a need for a Savior.
This is my testimony so far and the rest is still being written. I’ll leave you with this….
Much love 🙂