Accepting myself has been a challenge my whole life. Learning the Gospel in my grandparents’ fork-in-the-road church taught me that God created me to be the exact person I am; in His eyes I’m perfect.
But when the going got tough it wasn’t something I put to heart. I pushed aside any form of relationship with Jesus and fell into a path of my own destruction.
On the first day of Kindergarten I cried because all the girls wore plaid dresses and I wore khaki pants and a button-up shirt. An obvious misunderstanding of the five-year-old fashion trends led me to recognized that I didn’t fit in. A pit of anxiety formed my stomach, eroding my pride and self-confidence. For that reason, I spent many of the following years of my life trying to fit in and please other people.
As my high school years rolled around, I found that people pleasing consumed my everyday life. Fitting in became an all-out Hunger Games; it was a battle to even be recognized. I was the Primrose Everdeen who sat back and let another take my place. I tried relentlessly to put myself out there and to be liked by others, but I just did not have the confidence that the other, more outstanding girls carried.
At home, my relationship with my parents was strained as I became more defiant in my adolescent years. Being a daring teen was the cool thing to do, right? In order to earn the trust of others, I broke the trust of the people that loved me most. However, guilt was not slow to creep up and consume me for what I had become.
An abusive relationship formed between my anxiety and growing depression. I was crying for help inside but thought if I told anyone I would damage their image of me. I was stuck inside my own mind, with what seemed like no escape. Drained from the amount of effort I had put into controlling others’ thoughts about me, I had forgotten to put any effort into loving myself.
At the lowest point of my life, I was forced to face the harmful damage I inflicted upon myself. I was desperate for relief from my exhausting and dangerous routine.
I decided to give a relationship with Christ a try, and it ended up being the best decision I have ever made. Over the following year I learned what it was to not only recognize and accept God but live in Him.
Like a first date, it started with small talk and curiosity but once I opened up and got to know the Lord better, it blossomed into a fulfilling relationship. The burden of having to constantly please people was lifted and I began to breathe deeper, see things clearer, and experience true joy for the first time.
God has given me the freedom to make my own decisions and live a life without fear of judgment. I learned how to make daily life decisions for myself that were once before intimidating tasks. As said in Luke 12:23-26, “for life is more than food, and the body more than clothes…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Although the temptation to fit into the crowd is still present, I have peace knowing that there is no fitting in with God, but He accepts me as I am through Christ.
I also turned to counseling and medical intervention to help me manage my anxiety and depression. To come full circle with my Hunger Games analogy, Katniss was in many ways dependent on her mentors Haymitch and Cinna for help and guidance throughout the Games. Similarly, it is hard to enter the battlefield to combat depression and anxiety when you don’t have the weapons or strategies to do so. Therapy is a great option to gain battlefield skills to help you tackle whatever might be holding you back from being the happiest you can be.
The Devil whispered in my ear, “You are not strong enough to withstand the storm,” and I once believed him. Today, I whisper to the devil, “I am the storm.”
I can truly say that I have been made new in Christ. Because of my leap of faith to invest in a relationship with Him, I am a happier and healthier woman.
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