Audrey F.

Audrey F.

from KS
Story #185
My personal walk with Christ didn't actually begin until I was in college, even though I attended church regularly and was raised in a Christian home. To be honest, there never seemed to be a big need for God--church life existed and revolved around the social aspect of youth group, and in my small town you were more of an outsider if you didn't attend church events than if you did. I wanted to be accepted and I wanted to be good, so naturally, the Christianity I saw was an easy and available path to follow.

Throughout middle and high school I often attended church camps and experienced the extreme "mountaintop" faith experiences so common to camp, but remained unchanged when it came to resuming every day life. Even though I was surrounded by others of faith and the opportunity to grow in my own, I felt an anxiety and emptiness-- I struggled immensely with self image and self worth outside of achievement in sports, school, or social status.

This continued to an unhealthy level as I began high school. I was deeply depressed, withdrawn from friends and family, and in my self hate and desire to punish myself for my failures I developed an eating disorder to cope. I didn't want to let anyone down by outwardly struggling, and I didn't trust anyone enough to be truthful about my negative thoughts toward myself, so I chose a battle to fight in secret.

This battle would continue on for years, and would draw me deeper and deeper into a dark and scary place. Physically, I was exhausted and harming my body. Emotionally I was numb and detached. Spiritually, I was angry at God for making me so weak and disgusting. I would pray, but feel so guilty about praying while feeling so betrayed by God and angry at him.

My relationships with my family also suffered as I shied away from being truly known, and only experienced shame and guilt when they did acknowledge my struggle. The dating scene furthered my distress, as I looked to boyfriends to feel good about myself and allowed them to try and "fix" me. I kept away from having close girlfriends, and learned through very difficult circumstances how malicious and backstabbing friends can be.

Upon entering college, I was still deep in my struggle with my body and myself, dependent on a dating relationship that walked a fine line between dramatic and emotional abuse, and experienced extreme anger and discontent with God. Not only that, I continued to build bitterness towards God for making me the way I was-- while hating myself for being that person.

I truly believe that I was so far into my struggle that God literally cut away the "lifelines" I held onto so tightly. My fear of shaming my family was taken to peak levels when I was caught shoplifting and had to be bailed out of jail by my parents. The romantic relationship I depended on for love and comfort was ripped away in a very painful way. I had backed out of any associations with achieving in sports and faced possible suspension from college (if I was officially charged for shoplifting). I was very, very alone, and very, very distraught.

For me, my walk with Christ has not consisted of a "one and done" decision followed by immediate freedom from my struggles and a changed life. It has been a slow climb (with many falls) out of the pit, with constant reminders of grace and proof of God's mercy.

In my despair and loneliness I began to pray that God would open doors that I was supposed to walk through, because I had no idea what an open door looked like-- until it had slammed in my face. Instead of the rehearsed prayers filled with words I felt I was supposed to say, I worked on being honest. I told God I was angry or confused, and sometimes my prayer was me telling God I didn't have anything to say.

I've discovered many things so far , and am still discovering who Jesus is, seeing his work in my past and my present. I have triumphs and struggles every day, but my relationship with Christ gives me hope. Not just that there will be new mercies every morning, but that Jesus loves me and in my weakest and darkest moments I am STILL his, and still the one he hung on the cross for.

Everyone's story is different, and everyone's story is always being changed as we continue to journey through life. At times I wish my story had already included a complete resolution from all of my brokenness, but I trust that no matter the failure or victory in my mind, Christ loves me fully and has already done all that is needed to atone for my sins. I know that Jesus has created me with a passion to love, to pursue things that are greater than myself, and that he can use my trials for good, and that he wants to bless me with good things. And he has!

My hope in sharing my story is that someone out there will feel comforted in knowing there are others who were messed up and broken. More than that, to give hope to those that still don't have it altogether and are actively walking with Christ. Jesus can do and desires to do healing work in us-- but that doesn't mean we re perfect or without struggle. Trust that God has created you with intention to love others and speak through you. Be confident that you are not alone, and that you are worthy of the love your heart so badly desires. Lastly, be confident that God IS working in you through EVERY circumstance no matter the doubt that may try to creep in-- and that His love is stronger than any trial you may face.