I loved you at your darkest. – Romans 5:8

In high school there were many nights where I would quietly lock myself away in my room, falling to my knees in tears and begging God to make it all end. I didn’t want to face another day of insecurities, of wondering why I never felt good enough for anyone. I asked God to make me someone else- anyone else; I thought that anything could be better than what I was dealing with. And deep down, I was angry. I was frustrated that for so long, I had to deal with being shy, bad at math, being pale, and a number of other silly, trivial things that probably no one else cared about but me. We tend to see the weaknesses in ourselves because no one knows us like we do- or so I thought.

God loved me through it. He loved me every time I said I didn’t believe in Him, He loved me when I was jealous of my friends, He loved me when I used material things to distract myself from my pain, He loved me although I blamed everyone around me for my problems. He knew me better than I did. When I said nothing would get better, He knew it would. When I said I would never believe in love, He knew one day that would change.

Depression was followed by anxiety. Social situations, schoolwork, and strained relationships would put me into a frenzy all too easily. If one thing went wrong, I braced for my entire life to crumble once again. My faith was shaken by my misinterpretation of what I heard at church. I took “we are all sinners” as “I am nothing but a sinner.” My dejected mind wanted to feed off of anything it could. I thought I was addicted to the sadness. There were days I would hardly speak, and days I wouldn’t even listen to what people around me were saying. I didn’t want to hear “it’ll be okay,” I wanted answers. Why was my brain chemically imbalanced? Why couldn’t I be happy the way I saw others be happy?

I was browsing the Internet one night as my pangs of sorrow kept me from socializing with my parents or friends. I came upon Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” After suffering for so many years, I was desperate for acceptance and love. I decided that maybe it was time to change. I’d been going to church for years and volunteering, leading kids to find God. The time had come for me to find Him myself. I wanted peace. Tears flowed as I prayed for forgiveness for every time I had misheard the Bible’s word or denied His presence in my life. Even when I didn’t want Him there, He was present. I was finally thankful.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid and do not panic before them, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

From that point on, I decided that I would dedicate myself to being the person I’d always wanted to be. Instead of complaining about things I viewed as my flaws, I realized that God didn’t see it that way. He made me this way for a reason, and He loved me just the way that I was. The girl that I wanted to be was not outgoing, or good at math, or tan, or anything else that I’m not- she was just confident. It seemed like a much easier task to take on than trying to change everything about myself that I envied in other people.

I realized that God had plans for me, and accepted the fact that whatever I wanted was dull in comparison to what He wanted. It was just a matter of taking time to figure it out. I’ve gone through six majors in just my first year of college, and although it has been an emotional rollercoaster, I try to view it as just learning. I’m adjusting to living on my own, handling adult situations, and I’m taking on lots of work that I’ve found to be much harder than what I dealt with in high school. I’ve learned to be proud of myself for small things that I had never considered out of anxiety: volunteering at church, befriending strangers, asking for help from teachers, joining a sorority, and reaching out to Lane of Roses. God has lead me to these people for a purpose. The people I have met in Lexington have taught me so much and helped me gain the confidence I need to keep my faith strong when life gets murky.

Through every anxiety, I know God is with me. I know my suffering will not go without reward when I see the wonderful things He can do to transform my sadness into something practical. I have been blessed with an empathetic heart, a limitless mind, and an urgency to help those in need. These are far greater than any traits I once yearned for, and I believe with all my heart that there are many blessings yet to come. Though I'm still on a journey, and don't have it all figured out, my faith in God and His grace sustain me. Instead of facing each day with dread, God reminds me to wake up grateful and eager to serve Him.

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you." – Matthew 9:22

Read more stories like Sarah's here

#selfesteem #fear #anxiety #identity


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