I took some time today to do some thinking and reflecting. My heart is thankful. I stand in awe of the works of the Lord. On this New Year's Day, it is only fitting to reflect on this past year, and my hopes for the year ahead. I went a little further, and thought over the journey of my whole life. Below is what I wrote in my journal. Nobody has ever dared to call me spare of words...even I will admit perhaps I got a little long winded! :) Thankfulness is a hard thing to shut up, I guess... :)
This is the first day of the year 2012. And of course, this is a day to reflect on the past year, and where God has brought me. I believe that God has stretched me more this year than in the whole rest of my years combined. No thanks to myself – I think it would be more appropriate to say that in spite of me, God managed to do something in my life this year! J All glory goes to Him! How patient He has been with me! How unexplainably merciful. In my life, I don’t worship “the God of second chances.” I worship “the God of 1,000th chances!” He is my Life, my All, and my Portion. My Strength, my Lord, and my God.
I think back to March 10th, 1996. I was four year old. Somehow, God’s glorious truth penetrated my heart, (probably the first serious thought I had ever had in my life!) and I accepted Christ as my Savior.
Time passed as time will do, and the girl grew older. And as she grew, the “little girl bliss” and carefree attitude was slowly replaced with disgust. I was homeschooled. I couldn’t watch the movies my neighbor friends and cousins did. I couldn’t wear the clothes that the pretty girls wore. I couldn’t do sleepovers, or date, or hang out with the church youthgroups.
I was different.
And I hated it.
Conflict started developing with my mom. Tension became the norm between us. We argued. Inwardly, I screamed and shook my fist in her face. Outwardly, I cried.
I despised the life I lived. If I had had any other choice, I would have run away. I knew I was on the path toward leaving home just as soon as I could. I used to seethe to myself in my room, “I’m just making it through. Just a few more years, and all this will be over.”
Earlier, when I was twelve years old, I had been baptized. It was a happy day, and I can remember thinking, “Maybe this will solve my problems. Maybe now, I’ll be different.” I wasn’t. Water can’t wash away bitterness from the soul. A baptism can’t make a person fall in love with Jesus.
As I grew older, I began doing things behind my parents’ back. Nothing “big,” mind you. I didn’t run away, or go with guys, or start drinking. My life was too shepherded – too guarded for that. That was the frustration. I couldn’t get away with anything.
And all this time, the world saw a squeaky clean, smiling, happy Christian girl. Who could have guessed that the girl they wanted their daughters to be like was ready to chunk Christianity and her parents’ values altogether?
Eating tensions set in. Not a full-blown eating disorder, but I still managed to lose a lot of weight. In my insecurity and desperation for control, I used to think, “This is my only resort.”
God wasn’t far away, no matter how much I tried to run away. His answer came in a surprising form. I began to have panic attacks. Wave after wave of paralyzing fear. God’s graciousness, disguised as the hardest time of my life. Those panic attacks drove me back to God. In my fear, I ran to my parents and confessed everything. I turned back to God. It was a dark time of my life, but it was necessary.
I was only 15 years old at the time. Who would have thought that such a young heart could have been so bitter and dark?
And so, a new stage of my life started. I had no secrets. I was right with my parents. We learned our lesson from my struggle, and got rid of the bad influences in my life and made some big changes in our interactions.
My bitterness was gone.
Yet I still didn’t love the Lord. Here in America, the scariest thing to me is that you can be a “really good Christian” and still not love the Lord. You can dress the right way, say the right words, smile, and be respectful of adults, and people will call you an exceptional Christian – maybe even radical – and still you could have not one thread of passion for Christ in your entire being.
And that’s where I was. I knew I was missing something, but I had no idea what. And I honestly didn’t care enough to find out. Yes, the bitterness was gone, but other tensions weren’t. I was restless and discontent. I used to wonder, “What is my problem??” I couldn’t have told you what it was I was wanting – I just knew I wanted more.
I was still desperately insecure. I got closer to graduating, and dozens of people started asking THE question: “so where are you going to college?” I wasn’t. In their minds, I was wasting my life, and I believed it too. A driven-ness set in – to prove myself – to do something with my life. The only problem was, my parents saw this in me, and they (rightly) held me back. I was literally stuck.
Around October or November of 2010, a struggle began to take place in my heart and mind. I read a verse – James 4:17 – “Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” In that moment, that verse just about knocked me off my chair. I knew then that for years and years, I had desperately been trying to please both the world, and the Lord – at the same time. I also understood in that moment that I had a choice to make. I could only serve one. Which would I choose?
And I could not bring myself to make that decision.
The struggle lasted for a month. I wrote in my journal, “I believe with all my heart that when I can surrender my will to the Lord, can look to Him and say ‘Ok, it’s all Yours,’ then the battle is over. I have a strong will, and I’m not there yet. It’s my choice. I’m choosing the world. But one of these days soon, God will break my will, and I will surrender it all to Him. I will make that choice.”
God knew I needed help, so He sent one of his servants – my dad. J Dad asked me to start doing a devotional called “Thirty Days to Connect to God’s Heart.” I had to do it – Dad had asked me again and again. So I did it.
God used those times before Him to soften my heart. One day listening to some worship music, I quietly opened my hands and surrendered. I chose in that moment to serve the Lord, and to turn my back on the world. I gave my all to the Lord that day.
I didn’t know it then, but it was my first step toward owning my faith. God had helped me to stumble across what I believe is the key to a successful and true Christian life – surrender. That was December 9th, 2010. It’s been a full year since then, yet I still remember the instant change that happened in my life after that choice. Christ became a Friend. My quiet times lengthened and deepened. Freedom filled my life. I had become a slave to God, yet ironically, for the first time, I experienced true freedom.
God has had much purging to do in my life since then. Insecurity. Fear of man. Selfishness. Pride. Disrespect. Wrong motives.
My story since then has been ups and downs. The joy of a life of surrender. The passion of Christ. The distractions of this world. The daily struggles to die to self. The insecurity of living to please men.
Yet I leave the year 2011 – convinced more than ever before – Christ is all. I have no passion but Him. I have died, and my life is Christ. I have struggled. I have fallen. And Christ has helped me up again to serve Him more fully, to love Him more deeply.
I have set out on a race, and I am running to win.
“Oh Lord, in the year 2012, I have one request. Give me a heart to know and love You more!”