I am the youngest child in a family of two girls. I have always had a great relationship with my family but my parents did not have a happy marriage and lived almost separate lives. My dad was a hardworking provider for our family and a caring dad but he was also an alcoholic with no interest in church. My mum however was a committed and devoted woman of God and made sure that church and God were a big part of our life.
When I was 18 I met a guy at our church and we began dating. One day we had a conversation about marriage and kids that led into the subject of sex. He was very honest with me and told me that he had slept with his previous girlfriends. He then confessed that given that he had already had sex with other women that he didn’t really expect or value sexual purity in a partner. I was hurt and confused by this. He was a Christian, his family were very involved in our church and yet his values didn’t line up with what I believed was God’s best for us. We decided to break up but I was heartbroken.
I began to doubt whether I would ever meet someone who would wait for me, who would consider me worth waiting for.
My confidence had been rocked and so I invested all my attention and energy into my career. It became the treasure of my heart. I convinced myself that if I succeeded in the market place then I would be respected. I created an image in my head of the ‘perfect’ version of myself. Someone I needed to become in order to achieve fulfilment, acceptance and ultimately love. My expectations for my career were not fulfilled and because it was the source of my joy I experienced disappointment like never before.
At the same time I became fixated on my appearance. The quest for the ‘perfect’ version of myself ultimately led into a life of bulimia, followed by binge eating and ultimately anorexia a few years later. I was ashamed, hopeless and angry with God. Life didn’t make sense anymore and as a result I tasted the cold feeling of depression. Even though I knew that God loved me, I couldn’t feel it in my heart.
I remember praying for God to take my life away.
I felt like I was living a double life. Nobody knew about the battle that was waging in my head and the darkness that I lived with. I was still attending church and was invited to start leading a sisterhood group. I said yes but every time I opened my Bible the enemy reminded that I was unqualified and a hypocrite.
How could I be encouraging these ladies to hold on to God’s promises if I didn’t know how to do it myself? How could I tell them about this great love if I hadn’t experienced it in my heart? How could I tell them who they are, if I didn’t even know who I was?
But I continued leading the group and God met me there. Despite my feelings of shame and inadequacy, the more I read the Bible and prayed with my sisterhood group, the more peace and joy started to enter my life. I started to become aware of God’s voice and presence in my daily routine. As I started listening to Him and obeying Him in the everyday decisions of my life, even when it did not make sense to me, something shifted. Putting God first in my thoughts, my time and my finances, made me realise that focusing on myself was never going to reveal my purpose or bring me peace.
“The easiest way to discover the purpose of an invention is to ask the creator of it.”
As my perspective has changed I have begun to see myself the way God sees me. There are still things about myself that I don’t like but knowing that everything comes from God has made me realise that if God wanted me different He would have made me different.
I didn’t choose to be tall yet He made tall. I don’t like my nose’s shape but that is the nose He wanted me to have. There is something about me, the way God has made me, the things that I notice, the things that I care about, my personality, the way I laugh, there is something unique, something divine that God has deposited in me.
If I celebrate and release who God made me to be, I know amazing things can happen.
I realise now that the enemy of our soul knows this too. He knows that once I know who I really am in Christ that I will become unstoppable. Satan has made it his aim to distract me from who I really am. He knows my potential and has systematically tried to undermine my future. But now I am aware of his schemes, in God’s strength I can stand against them.
I am so grateful that I was, and still am, planted in a life giving and supportive church community. I am not sure that I would have allowed God to do what only He could do if I had been isolated and unaccountable. He has given me a new life, a new heart and is writing a brand new chapter of my history.
“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.”
Isaiah 43:4 NIV