Buckle up, it's a wild ride.
- •I grew up in the churchThe church where my parents met actually. It was very traditional. I grew up singing out of hymnals and listening to organs and old grand pianos plunking out the tunes of "Blessed Assurance" and "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".
- •While this was all well and good, I didn't grow up having a personal relationship with God.God seemed distant and sometimes even angry. One thing's for sure, He did not seem like a Father I could have a personal relationship with. I knew that there was a God and I prayed and did my memory verses knowing this but it never felt.. real.
- •It was around 8th grade when I began to diet.I counted calories religiously. I weighed myself every morning. I had never had a healthy relationship with my body. I had always been teased about my size. I guess it around that time when it all started catching up to me.
- •Losing/WinningMy dieting was not healthy. I lost around 35-40 pounds relatively quick for a 13 year old kid. But even though I wasn't being healthy about it, people still complimented me! I kept getting told, the more and more weight I lost, that I looked good! That I looked healthy and happy! So I kept going.
- •Mental HealthMy physical health was one thing but my mental health was another and let me tell you - my mental health was a wreck. I recently found a "Weight Loss Journal" I kept from around this time. The whole book is filled with comments about how disgusting I found myself, how worthless I thought my life was, and how unworthy of love I thought I was because of my appearance and annoying personality. I believed all of this. I really did. Some nights I still struggle with these thoughts.
- •This obsession with my size took over my life and led to other mental health issuesAnxiety. Extreme sadness. I was convinced that my life was a mistake and that I was worthless and unworthy of love. I found a passage in the same diary from this time in my life and all it said was "I hate myself. I'm scared." I was scared of what I was capable of in the state I was in.
- •In total desperation - I picked up my BibleIn it, I found people like me. Broken. Lost. Full of sin. And yet, Jesus loved them all. This struck me to the core. My whole childhood, I had the mindset that I had to be perfect in order to be noticed by God. But it's the sick that need a doctor - not the well. It is the sinners who need a savior - not the perfect (ps-no one's perfect)
- •ChangesI slowly stopped weighing myself every day, and then, eventually, all together. I haven't weighed myself since my sophomore year of high school. I know my weaknesses and I know better than to step on a scale. My relationship with my body immediately began to change once I learned that I and everyone else was made in the image of God. I am a firm believer that every body is a miracle. I mean, we all developed from two cells in our mother's womb. How is that not a miracle???
- •But the mental health issues remainedIn case you haven't noticed from my other lists - I still struggle with anxiety. But this chapter of my life is a different beast in and of itself so that's a story for a different day. Anyway, there was a point in my last couple years of high school where anxiety controlled most of my relationships. Anxiety was the only thing motivating me to do school work.
- •I felt like a crazy personI would wake up in the morning feeling ill for no reason other than that it was Tuesday. I would sit in class and find it hard to take notes because my hands were weak and shaky. But I wanted my weaknesses to fuel me, not hinder me. So I kept fighting. I fought the darkness and sought after the Light.
- •On January 11, 2015 I publicly professed my faithAs a way to share my testimony, I led the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul" which is hands down my most favorite hymn/praise song ever. One way I can tell my testimony is by reciting the lyrics to this song. After professing my confidence in Christ I wanted to impact as many people as possible. I wanted to make sure no one was ever as sad as I had been.
- •I wanted to be a music therapistI dreamt of going to Western Michigan University for music therapy. I was going to help kids with anxiety and depression work through their emotions as opposed to just covering them up with medication. This was my plan and I was sticking to it.
- •And then I went to Alaska the summer before my senior year of high school (2015)This was the best mission trip I have been on so far. The whole week focused on using our spiritual gifts to further the Kingdom of God and that's when I knew that my calling was to play music for Jesus.
- •GoalsAfter coming home from Alaska there wasn't a doubt in my mind that I had to pursue Worship Arts, and I knew exactly where I needed to go to do it. I applied and was accepted to my #1 choice in colleges, Grace Bible College, which is where I am currently pursuing a Worship Arts major.
- •I went on a mission trip June of 2016On our second to last night of the trip I had an honest conversation with God and asked him why he had "wasted" so many years of my life and had allowed me to live in so much sadness for so long. It was then that I heard God tell me "There is a reason". God hadn't wasted my time with pain. He had used the pain to grow me into a person who was capable of helping others in dark places and I'm so thankful for my trials.
- •I'm thankfulI'm thankful for my anxiety. I'm thankful for my sadness. I'm thankful for my heartbreak. It has all brought me closer to God. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to start loving myself from the ground up. I'm thankful for this college. I'm thankful for friends who help me grow closer to my Father every single day. But most of all I'm thankful for Jesus - his love that covers a multitude of sins, and his overwhelming power that can calm even the most severe raging sea.
- •Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.