So, I still can’t believe this. I really can’t. I can’t comprehend the awesomeness of God, I can’t comprehend how big He is, I can’t comprehend why He chose to save my life. But He did, and I couldn’t be happier.
I declared myself an atheist at the age of thirteen, in a lunch table discussion with my friends. I was sure of it. I was sure there was no god out there. I had lots of Christian friends, some of whom were as sure about their god as they were night and day. I was as sure of the fact that there wasn’t a god.
I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I’d never gone to church, never picked up a Bible except in the occasional hotel room, never said grace before a meal. That was all about to change when a friend said “Hey, you wanna go to camp?”
This was March. I was in the eighth grade, being bullied along with my friends for being ‘different’ and not a cookie-cutter clone, and depressed. I hated my life.
It was a Bible camp. And something made me say “Okay, I’ll go.” I was like “Well, it’s camp right? I’ll just ignore the Bible part.” And I did.
Camp, though, was the only time i really felt good that summer. I think that was God’s presence working. Because when I wasn’t at camp, wherever else I was, I felt numb, or ready to cry. I was an emotional mess, I was still shaken by the year before, and I was about to start high school. Yeah, I was messed up emotionally. To top it off, the realization of one of my best friends, Devon, dying two years before really hit me at this point, and I was just depressed.
I thought of the big things—hurting myself, and killing myself. I hate admitting it, but it’s true. I thought of these things more often than I’d ever be able to admit. But . . . Something stopped me. I never did anything. Thoughts did not turn into actions.
The thing is, it didn’t work—ignoring my so-thought non-existent god didn’t work. I tried so hard, and it didn’t work. I left camp on August 6, 2005 ready to shove the bible they’d given me under my bed and their bible verses and songs outta my head. Except . . . Yeah, that didn’t work either. Somehow, the bible made it into my backpack when I was camping. Somehow the words of Lisa, my counselor, got into my head. And every so often, I’d go sneak a peek at that bible in my backpack.
Then I got back home and shoved it under my bed again.
On September 7th, 2005, I started high school. I was freaked out. I was scared of the verbal bullying starting up again, scared of what I didn’t know about where I was going in a ton of different ways, I was still pretty depressed, and still lost. Then the c-word infiltrated my life again.
My grandma had been cancer-free for several years. And suddenly, my world crumbled when I found out that her cancer was back.
I sat in my room that night at a complete and total loss. I thought about just ending it all, and felt that stronger than I’d ever had. Because really, what else are you going to think when you think your life is completely crumbling before your eyes. And i realized
Something had to give . . . and that something was me. If I didn’t do something now, I was going to burn out completely, or kill myself. And for some reason, neither of those seemed like viable options. That reason was God.
In an unguarded second, something broke in me. I realized I couldn’t do this alone anymore. I couldn’t do life alone anymore. As clear as anything, I remember writing in my journal God is going to get her through this. Get my grandma through cancer again.
I cried. I surrendered my life and my heart to Jesus that night, September 7th, 2005.
And the darkness melted away bit by bit. I was not the same. I was happy.
Five years have passed, and I’ve changed so much. It took me a year to tell anybody I was a Christian. It took me two years to start going to church. Took me four and a half to find a church I love and can’t wait to go to. I’ve had as many, if not more, ups and downs as before, but I come out stronger each time. God is teaching me more than I could have ever dreamed.
If I would have killed myself, I wouldn’t have learned many precious things. That God is alive. That I am alive because of God, and I have always been alive because of God, even if I didn’t know it yet. Philippians 1:21 reads to live is Christ and to die is gain. I would not have experienced the gain in eventual death if I had not let myself die to Christ. My gain in dying to Christ was the reward of the real gain at the end of the road—at the time of God’s choosing.
And I am still learning more about Him, every single day. I hope this blog, this new church community, and new discoveries in friendships helps keep me on the path closer and closer toward Jesus.
This one’s for the journey.