This month we have seen some pretty amazing stories being shared and heard the hearts of our authors on their own stories. However, sitting here I cannot help but to share my thoughts on the whole aspect of a ‘testimony’. I think we tend to look at that word many times as Christians and just feel ‘down’ or ‘stuck’ and that is truly a sad state to be in. Even though we may not have gut-wrenching, heart-racing stories, EVERYONE’S STORY MATTERS! And as Christians we tend to forget all too often that our books are still being written. Your testimony doesn’t end the moment that you accept Jesus into your life, in fact, that is only when the true adventure begins! Because now we are no longer ‘dead in trespasses’ but in fact, we are ALIVE in Christ and this is truly living. Now is where we are tested on a different level, where victory gains a different meaning, where stumbling feels different and where grace and faith are what we live and breathe. It means we are running a different race, but please note it is still a race nevertheless. A race require training; a race require concentration, perseverance, stamina and the knowledge that you are working towards a goal…
So with that being said: I want to share a really raw part of my story with you.
(Side note: we all have different segments of our stories… Every story is unique; every chapter of the book plays a vital part. Sadly we can’t share all the parts, but the one I want to share has been weighing on my heart ever since I heard we were doing testimonies)
About 18 years and a few months ago, I was born into a solid Christian home. I was the eldest of three and was loved and cared for and raised by my amazing parents. I’ve always known God to be a part of my life. We read the Bible as a family, prayed together, Sundays we went to church. This was who we were. I officially gave my life to the Lord at the age of 6.
I can’t really pin point when or where, but with my strong personality, strong will and determined heart, I managed to be very hard on myself and often got very frustrated at myself for minor things. Doing art was a pain because it wasn’t like ‘I’d imagined it’. Getting sums wrong as a little girl in 2nd grade was the shame of my life. I HATED doing things wrong. The mere word ‘failure’ would make me feel sick. I was my own worst critic and didn’t take any correction well.
I was in a school from grade 0 (age 6) to grade 3 (age 9) and during those years I learned to listen to people’s opinions on my work. I would strive very hard to always have everything in the exact way that was expected and to make sure I always did everything right. I remember so vividly the one day as a 6yr old in my school where one of my friends made a noise in the hallway and we were all punished. It was like I got sent to prison. It was one of the worst things ever. I felt like I could die of shame. In another very vivid flashback I was punished with several other school mates in 3rd grade after something we’d done. The teacher decided to make a public example of us and started preaching and shouting at us in front of the WHOLE class, I was convinced that death could taste like that. It was one of most humiliating experiences in my life.
I don’t know if I am able to convey to you even in a slightest what I felt. I daily struggled to live with myself. So being like that and growing up, knowing God was sovereign, knowing He is holy, calling myself His child–and then failing as I commit a sin was more than I could bear. Condemnation was my shadow during the day and my coat at night. I kept endlessly blaming myself, even to such an extent as hating myself. The stumbling block in my relationship with the Lord, well, it was me…
It wasn’t something I’d admit to. It wasn’t something I’d acknowledge, but it was the truth. Sins that I committed were enough to make me ‘distant’ from God for a very long time as I’d sit with the guilt and condemnation on myself. I was breaking down the bridges that God was trying so hard to build to my heart. I was longing for a strong relationship with Him, but on the other hand, I couldn’t allow myself to forgive myself. It was a very strange concept and one that often perplexed me. I’d hear the Lord’s grace poured out over other believers. I’d see it being lived out by those around me, but I didn’t know how to make it my own.
Two or three years ago in one of my birthday cards from my parents, my dad wrote in my card that he hoped that I would finally see myself the way that God sees me… it shook me to my core. The walls I’d built so high around my heart that I was using to hide behind started to crumble. I was using it as an excuse to shut the Lord out of parts of my life. I can’t say that I am truly free forever, but I can say that I didn’t always know how to accept love, grace or mercy. I always silenced it by reflecting on how ‘bad’ I was instead.
Last year God met me personally at a women’s conference, for once I just allowed Him to love me. To show me He truly forgives, not just the lady in front of me, not just the child in Sunday school, but He can TRULY FORGIVE me! It was a humbling experience. It was freeing and peaceful. I knew that having a relationship with Christ wasn’t based on works, but rather God’s grace, but I didn’t BELIEVE it could be true for me. The truth is, it is true for all!
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – Romans 8:1