I’m going to share with you my testimony. This is 100% hard to write so I’m going to be doing it as a letter to my younger self. The first section is going to be a lot of backstory from my time growing up. The second will be what went on when I started going to church. The last section will be of God’s amazing redeeming power in my life. I hope you read on and can help you.
As I’m thinking through everything, a lot of things began as misunderstandings. You were a really shy kid who was afraid to speak up about how you felt, so you bottled it up.
It rained the day of your birthday 5th. Don’t worry, mom and dad postponed it for another day. But you didn’t quite understand that. You put on your blue dress and waited but nobody came. It hurt. As a 5-year-old you didn’t get that rain could stop people from coming. You took it to heart. You took it to mean that no one wanted to be with you on a day you thought was special. It sounds silly now, it’s just a birthday party. But you were 5 and that’s all you looked forward. You felt forgotten and that nobody cared. That’s, unfortunately, going to stay with you.
In second grade, it was a normal morning and you and mom were going to catch the school bus. Our neighbors and their kids were outside talking to my aunt, so naturally, mom stopped and talked to them. Since it got late our neighbor volunteered to take me with their kids. Mom let you choose. You were painfully shy and quiet and at some point, someone misunderstood and agreed to let you go in their car. But you didn’t want to. You always thought mornings were your thing with mom. We would hang out while everyone else would already be at work or school and it was just you two. You didn’t understand why she willingly agreed to let you go. You thought these mornings were special. In a big family there was never a quiet moment to bond and these mornings were it. Looking back she probably needed a break. The bus stop was pretty far and she was trying to find a job, but again, you were little and you didn’t see the bigger picture. It hurt you. You felt unwanted.
So you just started crying. No one understood why and you were too embarrassed to say that you felt like mom didn’t care for your bonding mornings, so you made up a lie about your teacher being mean. (Side note: She was mean, but she wasn’t that mean.) It sounds so dumb but I really just wanted to spend time with mom and I had felt like I was loosing that. Ever since that day, you started panicking and crying whenever you went to school. You sincerely felt that you couldn’t leave mom or something bad was going to happen. You never told anyone. You kept your feelings bottled up because you were embarrassed so you kept blaming your mean teacher, who ended up getting in trouble. (Sorry Mrs. Franson)
But this small, and insignificant, event changed you. For some reason, you felt mom was going to abandon you. She only worked one week and had to quit because you would spike a fever and get nose bleeds the second she left. One time you told her that you wanted to get sick so she could pay attention to you and everyone laughed it off as a joke. But you meant it. You wanted to feel like mom cared for you.
Then at school, your best friend moved away. You were way too quiet to make other friends and when you did, by the next year they got put in different classes and you didn’t get to talk to them. Since then you never felt like you had a true friend that you could confide in, and sadly to this day, you still don’t feel like you have someone to confide in. You would see all the other kids with their friends always hanging out and having sleepovers but you never had that. You had acquaintances but never had a real friend. You were alone a lot and you tried to play it off when mom would ask. But it hurt and you were again, too embarrassed to say anything.
In 5th grade, your self-esteem was a mess. You didn’t feel pretty as the other girls who were taller and had fancier clothes. You weren’t sporty or talented in any other way. You felt like you had nothing to offer. You were just an average kid. Then the guy you had a crush on strangely had a crush on you. For once you felt like you had something, but another girl came who was much more outgoing and talkative. First off, 5th grade is still young and you have no idea what love is. But it ended up hurting you. You didn’t feel worthy enough to get someone’s attention and that is going to stay with you for most of your teenage years.
There were a lot of other things much smaller than just kept feeding into all these negative feelings. Like when you were the best writer in your class and your teacher told you she would pick someone else for a writing award because she didn’t think I would speak. That made you feel insecure. Writing is all you’ve ever felt good at and the thing you love. You never opened up with anyone about it. A lot of it was because of shame and embarrassment. Mom and dad did so much to give you a good life that you hated feeling like you weren’t the child that could make them proud and had issues. You internalized a lot of things. I’m sorry that I was too afraid and embarrassed to speak about my feelings to others, which led to rough patches.
And then we went to church
Mom and dad started going to a Christian church when you were in 7th grade. There wasn’t a big conversion moment, it just kind of happened and you went with it. You were already trying to get used to living in a new place so your expectations were low. But it was good. People were nice enough and I guess the change was good. You followed the rules, but you never truly embraced God in a deep way. You saw the church for the social factor, so that is where things went wrong. You tried really hard to fit in. You changed yourself because you didn’t want to be left behind. It didn’t work. It was hard to keep friends in high school and then church friends and you never felt like you belonged to either group.
Look. you got a bit clingy and desperate in your teenage years. I’m not going to lie, but I honestly cringe that you were this way. You thought it would keep people but it ended up pushing them away. You didn’t want to be alone but you were looking for love and attention in all the wrong places. You tried so hard to look like you had it all together, but you didn’t. That’s when you started getting defensive about everything. You took everything as an attack and you further retreated into yourself and not letting anyone in.
Since you really didn’t have a relationship with God, you blamed Him for a lot. Why couldn’t He make life better? Why couldn’t He change things if He cared?
Then college came and you had your plans but there was still confusion and dread in your life. But one day you went to a church service. You weren’t expecting much but for the first time you truly felt God’s presence and you fully committed to Him. For the first time, things made sense. This is when you were at your best. You loved God fiercely and you would speak strongly about the word. You were unashamed about your faith and wanted God to use you.
But you didn’t deal with your underlying issues. You switched your focus to people because you wanted to belong. But you hated to admit that you wanted to belong so you acted like you were above it all. Again, your self-confidence was low so you latched on to people who weren’t good but at least gave you attention. You settled for really bad relationships because you thought you couldn’t do better. You let people treat you bad and be mean to you because you’d rather have that than feel alone. You went from such a high to probably hit the lowest point in your life. You were depressed and you couldn’t even come to God because you felt ashamed.
You lost yourself. You said no to a lot of things you wanted because people wanted you to do what they wanted to. Like the fact that you wanted to be more school spirit and participate more, volunteer more, be silly or explore more but you were always shamed and had to turn down things you were interested in. You did a lot of things to keep people happy. Sometimes as far as calling off of work to hang out so you didn’t feel left out and keep people from forgetting you. Then a very bad situation happened at church (my old one). It was horrible but a blessing in disguise. It shook up everything and gave me an out. Although it didn’t solve everything, it was a point that you just stopped caring about what people were projecting on you. Still, you acted out a lot more on emotion instead of rationally. But small steps.
You spent the years after that just stalling. You didn’t want to commit to anything or anyone. With college ending, you were filled with regrets of what you missed out on. Those feelings were mixed with an uncertain future. You always had a plan but not this time. Everything felt suspended. You still didn’t know how to deal but you felt like change was going to happen.
So where are we now
It honestly wasn’t until this past year or so that you were too exhausted and genuinely came back to God and just gave it all go. Every negative thought, situation, struggle, you just through it at the feet of Jesus and just let it happen. You hit a wall so you asked God to just do His will. It may have wrecked your plans and things changed, but although it was hard, You know that God’s plans will always lead you to something better. So instead of fighting it, you’re just resting in His peace.
At 24, life is not at all where we expected it to be. Sometimes it sucks, but it’s okay. God closed a lot of doors and you’re just waiting to see what He does next. This past year you are realizing that you’d rather be the person God wants you to be. You’ve seen changes in yourself and you’re doing new things you’ve never thought you’d do. You still hate feeling vulnerable and opening up to others is still something that is hard to do. I don’t know what your next step is and we’re going to have to keep working at it. But God’s not done with you yet.
Just love God. He’s all you need and everything will flow from Him.