Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Testimony

I always knew God existed, I just didn’t know He loved me and wanted a relationship with me. I was raised in the Catholic Church and went every Sunday. I was baptized as an infant; I remember my first communion and I still know most of the prayers. Although none of this ever meant anything to me. In fact I hated going to church. When I was little I was bored and didn’t understand it. When I was older I hated not being able to sleep in on the weekends and still didn’t understand it.

I had no interest in getting to know God more until I was in middle school. A good friend of mine invited me to go to youth group with her. Since most of my other friends were going I started attending as well. This was the first time I heard that God loved me and wanted a relationship with me. Before this I had never thought of God as someone personal, who I could get to know, and who knew me as well. My interest was sparked.

It wasn’t until the summer after my freshmen year of high school that I accepted Jesus as my savior and was saved. My track coach, who I loved, invited me and some other runners to go with him to a FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp. It was there that I truly understood that God had created me and loved me. He wanted to be in a personal relationship with me. But, because I was sinful this was not possible. Lucky for me and everyone else Jesus came to earth, led a perfect sinless life and then died on the cross in my place. Because of Him I could be in that relationship with God. I understood it all so clearly and I felt God tugging at my heart like never before.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school. It was like night and day. I had slowly turned into someone different than God had created me to be. Call it the rebellious teenager, it doesn’t matter, I was a mess. Drinking, sneaking out of the house at night and lying to my parents about my whereabouts where all things that I did almost every week. Although I felt incredibly guilty I couldn’t stop. I was still involved in youth group but was definitely not following God anymore. I actually met my husband during this part of my life at a party and we began dating. My identity was no longer in Christ but in the fact that I was a cheerleader, a gymnast, had a cute boyfriend and great friends. I thought getting drunk every weekend made me cool, and tried to shove my guilt to the side.

After a year of my crazy lifestyle God spoke to me in a huge way. It was at beach week, me and my friends had gone after graduation to celebrate. After my first night of partying I started throwing up. I couldn’t stop. Even after I stopped drinking I couldn’t stop throwing up. My friends took me to the emergency room at the beach and later that week my mom had to come down and pick me up. Eventually I got better, but I remember praying to God as I was hunched over the toilet, I can’t do this anymore, I can’t live this life anymore, I know this is not what you want for me. I pledged to stop drinking and turn back to God. And that is what I did.

I started college with the hopes of finding a good group of Christian friends and growing closer to God. And I did. I became involved in Campus Crusade for Christ; I made great Christian friends and was blessed with the best bible study leaders. I broke up with my boyfriend (husband now) because it wasn’t right at the time. I got baptized again. I grew so much in my relationship with God and learned so much about myself and who He created me to be. So everything was great, right? Wrong!

The throwing up that I had experienced at beach week didn’t stop. When I went off to college it started again. I would throw up for two weeks straight and couldn’t stop. I would go to the emergency room several times because I was having trouble breathing. My whole body would cramp up. Eventually they admitted me to the hospital to run different tests to find out what was wrong. After a week in the hospital and various tests they came to the conclusion, it was mental. I was having anxiety attacks. I started taking anti-anxiety medicine which helped, but not enough. Since I had missed so much school I took a medical leave my first semester of my freshmen year of college. It was a dark time in my life.

College for me was great, but hard. The anxiety seemed to almost cripple me at times. I had to learn to trust God and the promises He has made in new ways. I remember when my parents got divorced, I had an anxiety attack. I would miss weeks of school at times, because I couldn’t stop throwing up.
Eventually after five years of college, I graduated. It took me a little longer because of missed time due to anxiety, but with God I did it. God gave me the courage to go back after a bad attack; God gave me peace about the unknown and my future.

Anxiety is still a part of my life today. I struggle with not knowing what comes next for my life, I struggle with insecurities and I struggle with fear. But, I have a new found hope which keeps me going. I know God has a plan for my life, and has created me for a purpose. Although there are things that are out of my control and things I wish I could change, I know ultimately He is in control, and that is good. I am proud to say this March it has been five years since my last attack and I no longer need anti anxiety medicine. That is a big deal for me.

Presently I am searching for a full time teaching position. In the past this would have caused me to have an attack. Not knowing where and when this will happen is scary, but I know God has something out there for me. I know it will come in His time, and I am already thankful for that. And obviously I got back together with my husband after a year and a half apart. God is amazing!

I am thankful our God is a God who loves us despite our rebellions, our shortcomings, our fears, our anxieties, our sins. God has changed my life and I can truly say I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for Him in my life.


Courtney K. said...

Thank you for being so open and honest. You have a very powerful testimony and it is amazing to see God's work in your life. I hope you find that teaching position you are searching for. I'm sure it will all work out in His time. Have a wonderful day!

rachel said...

jenny this is awesome! i cannot believe it has been 4 years -- that is amazing! i am so blessed to have you in my life! ( :

Luke & Becca said...

This is amazing Jenny! so happy for you, and thank you for sharing! Things are starting go seem more normal for us these days - let's get lunch/coffee soon??