Where I Found Real Love- A Testimony //
Hi Friends! I don't know about you- but I feel like this week is going super fast! Maybe it's because i'm hoping my week/s off from Uni will last forever... Hey- A girl can dream!
I feel like I'm more of an open book than I used to be.
If you'd have asked me a year ago if I'd show any sort of vulnerability to anyone- I'd have laughed. I now like to think of that person as the 'old' me. Let me tell you why..
I've been an on/off church-goer since I was 14. The 'off' stage was quite long during the ages of 17-18/19, which we'll call a 'rebellious stage'. During this time, I was a girl with such low self-worth and so depressed, that I was essentially in search of anything to fill the void of emptiness I felt. My day to day life can be best described as careless. I had no care in the world. You name it- I did it. I was living by myself in deliberate isolation of people who had once positively influenced my life- because I felt they just didn't 'get it'. After all- how could these church kids who have grown up in church and Sunday school ever get ME? A person who grew up in an environment that was the direct opposite. And i'm not saying it was bad, because it wasn't. It's just.... my 'normal' consisted widely on negativity. In my life, swear words were the only adjective we needed and could be interchangeable for almost anything. (Little did I know that my creativity went way beyond that, Lol.)
Don't get me wrong, I'd heard of God. I went to the Christian group at my high school during lunch times. Sure, I may have gone because it was a way to stay inside, which made me able to avoid having to go out in the hot weather and take off my cardigan- revealing bloodied and scarred arms, but I still went. And after a while of going, I'd decided I may as well listen. I had nothing to lose.
Fast-forward a year.. I'd started going to youth group with a friend from the school group. Seemed fun. Seemed like a way to not have to be at home during constant screaming matches because my brother was also in a huge rebellious stage... Just one that broke the law and got him into trouble a lot. Back then I didn't really care about it all- they were all so distracted that it made my doings so much easier to hide.
Between then and now a lot has happened... but also not a lot. i've gone from job to job, from boyfriend to boyfriend to the 'singleness 4 lyf' vibes, and from 'I have no purpose' to 'I have a clear path and a great future that I'm running full-force towards'. I've also gone from church to church.
I used to think all churches were the same. Did the same thing, talked about the same God, just had different people. Now... this is in some ways true, and in some not. Bear in mind I can only speak from experience, but no church is the same. The first church I went to was GREAT. I got to siiiing in services. I got to help with so many things. I met people who influenced my life in ways I'd not even realise until later in life.
A few churches later- I found myself at one just around the corner from my house. It was convenient.. it was small... but this church family had been together a while. So, I was somewhat of an 'outsider'. I went for over a year and never really felt like a part of anything. After the services I'd stand there by myself (heck, during services I'd stand by myself). I'd go home not really feeling a part of anything. I'd developed this hunger for growth, but I could never find any opportunity. So I stopped going. Nobody from that church has talked to me since that day.
Surprisingly, all of this only grew my relationship with God. Because from all of this I'd learnt that my relationship with Him was never meant to be about a church. Yes, a church is actually vital to growth, relationship with others amongst other things, but my foundation was never a church. It was God. And I lived for Him first. Not a Pastor, not a leader, not a friend, not a church. Him. I could've so easily used that church experience to put a negative connotation on how i thought of God. But I knew who He was. And I knew that people weren't perfect.
Thankfully, the church I attend now allows me to put everything I have into serving God and His kingdom. I am able to help create a space for people to ENCOUNTER and MEET God. And I am also able to help ensure that in God's House- nobody is ever made to feel like I felt previously. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My life was made up of one 'cloud nine' moment after another.
In May of 2017, a friend committed suicide. All my cloud nine moments faded in an instant. That familiar feeling of depression that I'd so easily been able to push down in the midst of this new life I was leading popped back up. Life just became a blur... one day lead into another and it all felt the same. I just remember laying in bed and asking God how this could be His plan. I didn't understand how things could turn so quickly.
But, I was in a place where I was not alone. I had Pastors, Leaders, Mentors, Friends- you name it. I'd never experienced anything like it. I quickly learned the meaning of family. These people carried me through some of the hardest and ugliest times, and my heart still does not know how to comprehend that.
I came to a place where I accepted that I needed help. And that was okay. All of the hurt from my past came to the surface and I felt as if I was riding this huge wave that I could drown in any second. I felt that open void all over again. Except, this time, I knew that only God could fill that void. I opened up every part of me.. the ugly, the embarrassing, the great.. and I let God in. I cried out to Him from my deepest points of pain and, there He was. As He promised.
I feel like that was a moment where God just became so real for me. Like, close. He was distant before because my walls were so high and I wouldn't allow Him in. Letting Him into all of those things was a game changer. He began healing. He became the first one I run to, not just when I was sad.. but in every moment, for everything. I experienced true FREEDOM. I'd never felt real joy until these moments. I didn't know what that looked like. I became able to hunger for more again... to learn and to grow and the desire to do anything and everything. When you start to experience God moving in your life, it makes everything that used to be impossible seem possible. And it is possible!
Throughout these times I had a few quotes I held onto and read. I stuck them all over the place so I'd see tham all the time- I wanted to share a few with you right now:
"It could be today that you realise
they have no more power over you."
"You give LIFE to what you give ENERGY to"
"You are most yourself when you are wrapped up in your PURPOSE, not your POSITION."
"My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God's word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes - many times - my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When this happens - and it happens every day in some measure - I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of Your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth." -John Piper.
Remember- just because the change you need hasn't happened, doesn't mean it won't. My life changed when I least expected it to. And for things to grow...they need rain.
Don't be afraid to share your testimony! Changed lives change lives.
I hope this helps you in some way!
Love, N. x