What better way to celebrate the Easter weekend than with a testimony. The testimony below is mine and though I’ve been writing for some time now, the post has never been so personal. I accepted Christ Friday, March 29, 2013. For anyone wrestling with questions, I pray that God can speak to you through my story…..
At ten years old I walked the aisle of my church, said a prayer and was baptized a week later. I was not completely sure why I was doing it but I knew that it was a good thing and I wanted to do what was right. I remember talking with my mother prior to making my decision public and asking her how was I to respond when I walked down the aisle and was saved. I can still hear her answer, “Sarah, if you think walking down that aisle and being baptized is what saves you then you aren’t ready.” As confused as I was by her statement, I continued because I didn’t have the heart to admit, even at ten, that I was wrong.
After my baptism, I was the “textbook” Christian. I gave all the right answers in Sunday school, I volunteered; I read my bible and said my prayers. After all, that is what everyone expected from me. But even at ten years of age, I felt a void, followed by a feeling of complete loneliness and inadequacy. I struggled with anger and depression but I never told anyone because I was a “Christian” and “Christians” didn’t feel like that.
The feeling of loneliness and emptiness grew stronger and stronger as I got older. When I would question if I was truly saved, I would tell myself that I was okay, that if I did this or had that, the doubt would go away. I thought that being academically successful would fill that void and for a time, it did. I thrived on the accolades of my family and friends. I search for my identity in my work and it almost cost me my family. I was selfish and greedy and just wanted to feel complete at any expense. When school and work did not accomplish that, I started blaming my family and looking to my husband to fill the void, thinking that if my family would do this or that, I would be a better “Christian”.
During this time, I poured myself into ministry positions in my church teaching women’s bible studies and eventually moving to youth. And for a while, I felt okay because I received the approval of all those around me. It made me feel good when I was told I was a great leader or teacher because it helped me feel affirmed in my faith. And like everything else in my life, over time the feelings of emptiness would come back and I would question myself. And each time, I would tell myself that I was just tired or that I just needed to find where God was placing me. My search finally led me to a position at a crisis pregnancy center and within two years of being there, I hit rock bottom. I hated God, I hated church, and I hated everything that my faith supposedly stood for. And regardless of how hard I tried to get back up, I continued to fall back down on my face. I was tired and exhausted. My heart was breaking and I still didn’t know why.
Until my family moved back to laurel in December, I had not stepped foot in a church consistently in nearly a year. I don’t remember a single sermon that was preached the first two months we visited Journey Church. I would sit there in my chair and ask God over and over, “why are you doing this to me?” I would go over in my head all the things I had done and excused all my shortcomings on everyone else. Emotionally I was finished.
What God has revealed to me is that my faith was contingent upon the people or works in my life: my idols. My identity was not in Him but in the good works I was doing. I wasn’t doing it for His glory, but for my own need to reassure myself. I have read the parable of the sower a million times and I never got it until Friday morning (March 29th). My heart was the stony soil where the seed had been thrown. I received God’s message and wanted to carry it on, but I had no roots and when times got hard, I couldn’t stand. (Mark 4:16)
Twenty two years ago, I made a profession of faith because that is what was expected of a good girl. And I was wrong because I didn’t get it. It took twenty-two years of trying everything else for me to understand that my faith cannot be based on my academic achievement, my career, my ministry or even my family. On March 29, 2013, I finally died to myself and gave my life to Christ- my identity rests in Him alone.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20