It’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper (or hit my fingers against keys?), but I feel like for the past four or five months I could have opened every piece with this line. Truth be told, I have been nervous and continue to be terrified of writing on this self-named site.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a good friend or family member. If you’re not one of those two options and I don’t know you, you may have started reading this because of a post about Young Life a little over a year ago. A post I wrote in about 30 minutes has since gone internationally viral and is still viewed every day. I have gone through phases of being so excited and honored, phases of being humbled and in awe of what The Lord did in a short amount of time, and–lately–phases of being scared and feeling unworthy.
I continually write and feel called to post an anecdote about life, and they continually end up in the draft folder. I feel like that is what Satan does when we let him. He takes something good and beneficial to God’s kingdom–an idea, a dream, a relationship–and will stop at nothing to ruin it, crush it, and break it apart. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and he will do that if we let him fill us with doubt, fear, and insecurity.
So, I am back. With all of the doubt, fear, and insecurity, I am sitting (wrapped like a burrito in a blanket), hitting my fingers against the keys again. I still feel completely unqualified to have a blog–because I am–but I believe there are stories and lives worth sharing. Stories and lives that I (and probably you, too) encounter every day. In the time I have been waiting and as the Lord has continued to refine me, I believe I’m going to use this platform to take a break from sharing my story and start sharing others’.
I have asked Meghan to give us a glimpse of her story and she so sweetly obliged. To the woman who I have seen fight doubt, fear, and insecurity, to the woman who glows the person of Jesus, held my hand when I got a tattoo, allowed me to baptize her: thanks for letting my friends read your words. Everyone, meet Meghan.
I always knew that I needed Jesus in high school. I didn’t always know that I wanted Jesus, but I knew that I needed Him. About a month into my freshman year of high school, my friend Joe committed suicide and that loss, sudden and hopeless, rocked my world and shook everything I thought I knew.
The months following the day he left this earth are a little bit of a blur to me, but I remember the stages of grief playing out in my life. I was 13 and didn’t know how to deal with pain. Not knowing how to deal with the pain led to a first stage marked by intense hurt and endless tears, which then lead into the second stage, and then I was left feeling really numb. The numbness was fine until it wasn’t, and I found myself with a razor blade consciously cutting into my wrist. By the end of my freshman year I downward spiraled into a messy depression and all I wanted to do was end the pain.
Instead, by a weird chain of events, I ended up going to a Young Life camp called Saranac with 50 strangers, and my life was never the same. I was told about a God who loved me enough to send His son to die for me. I was told that He would never stop pursuing me until He won my heart. I remember feeling wrecked by that love–knowing that my life hurt and my brain hurt and my heart hurt–but that it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Maybe, just maybe, that love would fill the aching loss in my life that nothing could fill and nothing could fix. My friends paralleled the gospel all week by loving me desperately and intensely, knowing my flaws and my pain, and loving me through it. That week I thought that I just might not be hopeless, and I gave my life to Christ.
Shortly after, I definitely became an average Young Life kid. I don’t think I ever missed a campaigners or club, due to the fact that it was my only source of friendship and truth and hope in my life. Following Jesus didn’t fix everything, and I still cut myself pretty frequently, but the Lord definitely provided friends that extended their hands and their love when I fell. I ended up doing work crew the following summer and the whole “you find your life when you lay it down” thing really played out that summer. I think that’s the moment when I truly started following Jesus, rather than just loving Young Life.
Again, things kind of fell apart my junior year. They fell apart after my friend Jess died. I was pissed at God and felt alone and lost and hurt and every stupid emotion all at once, and every day for at least a year after Jess passed away. I don’t think I ever really knew how to follow Jesus by myself without Jess’ guidance, and the lack of guidance combined with the doubt plaguing my heart, really strained my relationship with Jesus. I remember Ryan (my Young Life area director) desperately trying to keep me around club and campaigners and speak truth to me, reminding me that this wasn’t the end. I don’t remember specifically how things got better, but a continuous series of falling down and feeling hopeless, followed by Ryan and eventually Mandy (my Young Life leader), reminded me that God is good and there is hope in this world because of Him kept me at Jesus’ feet. Maybe not even that. Mainly it was that combined with the Lord continuously proving that through them, and in probably a million other things, this world hurts and life will never be easy, but He is good and His love for me is enough.
Everything sucked for a really long time but I had to believe that there was hope and that God was enough, and He was.
Fast forwarding a bit. I definitely followed Jesus through high school and freshman year of college, but I feel like 2015 was the year that tested me and beat me and the Lord just pulled me through and–in a way only God can be–was victorious over the mess. I know freshman year probably sucks for everyone, but I was alone in a new place full of strangers, not knowing who I was anymore. My head was constantly flooded with thoughts of suicide and lies that I was believing about myself. I didn’t have people telling me that they were lies from Satan, so they festered and masked themselves as truth. I remember feeling like I was drowning most of the year, and I didn’t know how to swim.
The pain in my heart was persistent but seemingly didn’t have a cause so I never knew how to heal the hurt. My brain felt like it was screaming and I never really found silence until I learned how to process the pain and speak about the hurt. Two of my friends taught me how to be vulnerable (gag) and that pain was worth sharing because we weren’t meant to suffer alone. I think talking about it out loud made it okay to talk about it with God, and He just overwhelmed me with His love and His peace. The healing that followed changed everything. The only thing I can compare it to is when you fall and scrape your knee as a kid. You’re pissed and sad and scared and hurt and when you realize you can’t do anything to fix it, your dad just comes over and picks you up and kisses your forehead and everything feels better. The hurt is still there but you know it will get better, and that’s how this summer felt.
Last semester was better because I believed it would get better, and I was letting God in on the hurt and letting Him do the healing. I think I got baptized because I needed to wash off the hurt and the guilt and the pain of the year. Just like the processing of cutting, I needed the outside to match the inside: if I was washed clean and made new on the outside, I knew my heart would feel the same. The water was so cold that it chilled my bones and took my breath away, and the moment I was submerged my whole body felt changed. When I came up and took a breath, I felt different. My heart felt changed. My mind finally fell silent and clean and every other feeling I had begged God for since last January. I didn’t feel shattered and dirty and broken anymore, I just felt whole and clean, knowing I was His.
My life has just been a story of God proving how relentlessly in love He is with broken people. He’s in love with me. He’s in love with you. Nothing is perfect and everything is a little broken, but God has always proven that there is hope in a life that He has created for me. That life is worth living because I am His.