Whew ok. So lets begin. My testimony.
For anyone who's doesn't know what "testimony" means, it is your story to date that has brought you to know and love Christ as your Savior. I was brought up in the church, I've been going to First Baptist Church of Windermere ever since I could remember and now I'm on their staff as their Digital Storyteller, so if you ever visit, yes. That IS my face on the screen haha!
I grew up in the church, I was homeschooled with Circle Christian School, and I've never moved from my comfy little house in College Park. Some like to call that "sheltered", and yes I agree with them. I was sheltered. Something I'm actually grateful for when I look back...I wasn't rushed into the evils of this world even though they could still reach me in the cracks of my life, because this IS a fallen world... and as I sip my coffee in remembrance of where I've come from, I'm smiling cause this is gonna get good.
This is about to get really personal.
Evil has a way of seeping itself into any environment. At a young age I became very self aware, and very self conscious. My sister, who is only 18 months older than me, and I were basically twins in the way we interacted. We did EVERYTHING together. We did Tae Kwon Do, dance classes, shared a room, had the same "classroom", shared friends, went to the same youth group, and were basically on the same schedule until Amy went to college and someone got THE GOLDEN ROOM (yes Amy, it was a fortress in our head) If she's reading this she's probably laughing through a little bit of pain Ha! Anyways, Plain and simple - Katherine had always been skinnier than me. That's just a fact. And in my world, she was the one who set the bar in all those things I listed above. So I needed to reach the bar, I needed to mold myself to be a good replica of my sister, not because anyone thought I should, I wanted to. I looked up to her. I wanted to BE her.
This wasn't a mindset that was enforced by Katherine, my parents, or my older sister Amy, it just...was. Therefore began my descent to what would be a really long battle that I still fight.
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive and Beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
That verse sounds so NICE! And when I was struggling in how I saw myself, this verse along with some others about being fearfully and wonderfully made, sounded SO NICE. But in all honesty? It. Did. Not. Help. Me.
I lost a lot of weight at 9 years old because I couldn't fit into Katherine's pants anymore. (Yes Kat I've been stealing your clothes since 2001) I decided to stop eating candy, desserts, I stopped drinking soda, and had honestly a really hard time eating food without feeling sick to my stomach, cause I knew that FOOD is what makes you fat.
If I was you reading this, I would now have gone to your social media account to immediately see the ending of the story. "Oh my gosh, is she fat or is she skinny I HAVE TO KNOW"
Spoiler alert: I'M NEITHER. I'm in the middle. My pants are a size 8, I wear medium shirts (DEPENDING ON THE STORE CAUSE NO ONE IS CONSISTENT UGH), I only have 3 parts of my body that are described as "tiny" and those are my hands, my feet, and my waist. LOL. I am literally normal. Something I couldn't see for a very long time. So like a couple of my pictures on my instagram and fricken get back to my story.
Jesus had been my friend, but not my Savior. He had been this "Revealed Mystery" to me. As if I had figured Him out and I didn't see a NEED, just a...I'm struggling to think of a proper word....I guess a constant presence that didn't need to be dived into. (Dive? Dove?)
I had the upper hand with Jesus, I was doing precepts with my mom, going to church, in a christian school, and a steady home-life. I felt saved, but I hadn't really known what that even meant until a couple of years later.
Until then I struggled with an eating disorder in my brain. No I wasn't bulimic, no I wasn't anorexic, but I can tell you right now I was terrified of food. Another topic that I'm going to hit is pornography, but for the sake of this post all you really need to know is that it is dangerous, it is addictive, and I was held captive to it by the age of 11 or 12. It did nothing for my self esteem and only sent me deeper into separation with God. I struggled with that addiction for about 3 years.
When I was 15, I remember my Mom having a lot of back pain that just never seemed to go away. I even remember seeing her fall down our steps before heading to the class she taught one morning and crying because I was scared that she was in pain and I could do nothing about it AND she just fell which made her pain worse. It felt like an inescapable cycle. She started going to the doctors who took MRI's and all that medical talk, and couldn't find anything. So they started decompression therapy. I don't know much about this cause I remember my mom saying it was REALLY painful, so I never really learned about it. To be honest, this whole year I'm about to describe is a HUGE BLUR. I was really shaken by the whole thing, so I kind of suppressed it all.
Well one of the days she came home, she got out of the car and quickly told my dad to help her get back in, she could feel herself loosing ability in her legs. I remember seeing the ambulance in the driveway next to our house, and I was worried something happened to our elderly neighbor. So naturally I called dad, only to hear that it wasn't our elder neighbor who needed the ambulance, but my mom. We found out later that she needed emergency surgery that would leave her with a less than 1% chance of walking ever again and after running some tests, found out she had cancer.
This is what the valley feels like.
I can't do this.
Is my mom dying?
Is she going to live to see my life play out?
I can't do this.
Where do you run when the world is still turning, mocking you as you lay down in agony begging it to give you a moment, crying that gravity could JUST. STOP. PUSHING. You're fighting against the dirt that's being thrown on your coffin as you're screaming I'M NOT READY.
We are His portion and He is our prize drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, if grace is an ocean we're all sinking - How He Loves by John Mark McMillan
I ran to Christ.
I could not do this by myself. I could not see my mom in a hospital bed and think He did this to her, I could not be bitter when I was so desperate for comfort. One rainy day I went to my window, put my forehead against it and silently let hot, built up tears stream down my face in defeat. "I give up. You can have me. I can't do this by myself. I give up. I'm Yours. Please take me."
This was more powerful than any prayer I had prayed, because I could feel the Spirit beckoning me. That verse way up there ^ actually meant something precious to me because I understood it. I could feel the entanglement of my addiction to pornography, my constant body struggle, my comparisons and pain fall off me as my broken heart was made whole. I saw the time we have with this life as just a speck of dust, because the REAL preciousness of life is in the preciousness of HEAVEN Who was risen from the grave on the third day while death was vanquished and sins were given atonement and we were offered a resurrection, so that death would only be a single MOMENT in the glimpse of eternity.
To the astonishment of the doctors, my mother's 1% chance of walking didn't scare God. My mom can walk because of the miraculous God we serve, not because of an amazing earthly doctor whom we are incredibly grateful for. Her cancer, multiple myeloma, is treatable. Though it remains a constant battle, it has and will not be a hinderance of faith. We believe that our reward is in heaven and that God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) We know that this cancer, this battle is here to further His kingdom, or for the refining of our faith, or even both because thats what James 1 teaches us.
I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about, the way He loves us.