I’ve always been a believer. Not a dedicated believer, but a “Jesus? Yes, I believe in Him.” or “We’re all praying? Yes, I’ll do that.” kind of believer. My parents got divorced when I was 5-6, so we never really had time for church because both my parents did college at some point after the divorce and they both had to move in with family for awhile for support. My mom tried to get us to go to church a few times, but I of course as a kid didn’t pay attention, and we then would become busy again. Life would get in the way. I’d never been an awful kid, but one thing I did was lie a lot. Then 8th grade came around and I did a lot more than lie. I started dating this boy, and for awhile it was a normal middle school relationship. Awkward, pointless, and uneventful. Then towards the end of 8th grade year, he starting to hunt at things he wanted to do. Things I didn’t want and things that I knew weren’t right. Then during the end of the school year and that summer, things that were impure and not meant to be done in a relationship before marriage were happening. We were sending inappropriate pictures and there were sexually impure things happening between us. I didn’t want to do these things, but at the time I was too soft to stand up for myself and say no. That June my mom found out, so we had to break up and I was on lockdown for awhile. Things got dark during this time. It all of a sudden hit me, how bad the things I did with this boy were, and that put me in a bad place. It was summer and I sat around a lot, so I did a lot of thinking, and not in a good way. Eventually I started to hurt myself. I’d take anything sharp- a razor, knife, scissors, anything, and slice at my skin because I felt like it was what I deserved. I got to the point where I did it for fun or when I was bored. Suicide crossed my mind many times, but I couldn’t think of a subtle, easy way to do it, so I didn’t. I thought no one would care if I left this world. I figured everyone would care for a bit like they do whenever anyone dies, but then they’d move on and forget. I got reckless with my actions, not caring about what happened to me, and one night took 18 Ibuprofen because I wanted to see if it would do anything bad to me. I know it’s only Ibuprofen, but at the time I didn’t care about that. I had hope that it would somehow cause harm. My mom saw that something was going on, so she put me in therapy. I thought it was working, but then I saw a conversation between my ex and my friend saying it was turning me into an awful person, so I went back to my old ways and stopped trying to get better. I gave up. Then I went to a church camp, and it helped for awhile. I felt forgiven a bit more and I wanted to stay alive more than I did before this camp. Then my freshman year came around and I of course got sucked into issues with boys again. I started “talking” to this boy, and things weren’t bad at first. But this boy was manipulative, very flirty towards others and controlling, which really lowered my worth. But a couple months go by and this boy is controlling me and flirting with others like none other, so he and I stop talking. Then I get involved with another guy a coupleweeks after, if even. Before I knew it, I was back to my old lifestyle of sending inappropriate pictures. I sent pictures because I’d get positive attention out of it. I felt loved, wanted, and good enough for once. Life started getting a little fun and enjoyable. But like most temporary things that are used to fill a hole, they don’t last forever. My parents found out and I got into lots of trouble again. This time I decided I was done with that old life and I was gonna change, that I wasn’t gonna give into guys like that anymore. Then my sophomore year came around and that all slowly started going down the drain. I started talking to the first guy I talked to from freshman year, and eventually we started dating. Nothing bad was happening yet, aside from the fact that he was manipulative, controlling, super flirty towards others and plain out rude and disrespectful to me, especially in front of other people. This lowered my worth so much more than what it was before, which was already low. As the relationship went on, I started spending less time at the church I’d started going to this year, less time with my friends (including my best friend), and more time with this boy. Before I knew it my best friend was done with me, I wasn’t friends with anyone, this boy was only friend, and I started going back to my old ways of being in relationships. We sent inappropriate pictures, and then started doing things that were sexually impure. I figured I’d managed to not lose my virginity yet, so anything else was fine because that what matters. But then I realized it was more than keeping your virginity. I realized this relationship was unhealthy, but I stayed because it felt like this boy is all I’ve got left and for some odd reason I think we’re “meant to be”. Months go by, and things get worse and worse. God sent me so many signs to leave yet, I stayed. I would pray for this boy and I to work out, for the issues and arguing to go away, and then the next day we’d argue. We argued at least 2 times a week, sometimes 4-5. But these weren’t silly little arguments, they were arguments that I let dictate my mood and arguments that made me feel like it was somehow my fault and made me feel like an awful person. I was always anxious, worried, overthinking everything I did, because heaven forbid I make a certain comment, not act lovey enough, or have a conversation with another guy (even though he flirted with girls on the daily). It would get to points where we’d be arguing, he’d be threatening to leave, and I’d beg him to stay and sometimes throw up because I was so anxious and worried. But in the end, my convincing was good enough. It seemed like it was a game, like he enjoyed watching me beg for him. Eventually I started getting sick of all of the arguing, lack of peace, feeling so unworthy, and unhappiness. I figured relationships were meant for the people to be happy, and I was not happy. But I was trying to give this boy a chance, because I though he was it for me. He made me think we had to be together. Then during the summer he went behind my back and did something he knew I wasn’t okay with, something he knew would hurt me, so I started not being so soft and finally started sticking up for myself. I started reaching out to my best friend that I lost because of him and got help and advice from her. When I did these things, he and I started to fall apart, and eventually he was out of my life. It was hard, though. Even though we broke up, he still constantly made me feel like crap. He talked trash on me on social media and would randomly text me to tell me rude things he felt about me or pick fights. My self worth was gone, I barely felt if there. It’s a good thing I managed to keep my virginity, because I have no clue how I would have coped if I would have let that go too. I’m thankful God helped me have enough sense to not let go of that so easily. Then CIY Move, a church camp for high schoolers, came around, and my life got flipped in that short week. I heard the details of what Jesus did for me and how hard it really was for Him, which made me feel so loved and worthy. I learned what following Jesus meant and all of the great things it would bring to me, and I decided I wanted to do that. A few months later I got baptized during my junior year of high school on October 15, 2017, and to this day it’s the greatest decision I ever have and will make. I would let darkness get to me and still struggled with my worth, it just became something I couldn’t escape. But about the time it started getting bad I went to another CIY Move camp, which was very recent, and it changed my life again. I’m closer to God, my youth group, best friends, than I ever have been. I am now surrounded by the greatest people I could ever imagine and I know they all have my back because they’re a part of the church. God helped me push all of the darkness out of my life and now I’m feeling better than ever and doing what it takes to stay in that light! I will never stop following God and stop doing what I can to glorify Him because of everything He’s done for me. Although a lot of stuff happened in my past, I wouldn’t change it if I could. It gives me a chance to share with others how much God’s changed and helped me, which gives me the opportunity to show how good He is!