Today’s story comes from a delightful young woman whose heart and faith are among the purest and most sincere I have ever seen. It has been an absolutely refreshing joy to get to know her, and to grow beside her. Her honesty and vulnerability, and her willingness to be led by God into new and challenging areas of growth, give me hope for her generation.
Her testimony speaks to the power of community, and to the devastating effects of the lack of community many of us have come to accept in our lives. God designed for us to grow together, to be connected in our journeys. Sadly, many people, even in the church, are suffering deeply because they are living disconnected, even while they rub elbows and serve in ministry together week after week. Some have lost hope altogether in the possibility and power of true community, and have given up on church because of it.
But we need each other, and we absolutely cannot grow into our true identities without each other. This young woman’s brave story portrays the simple faith it takes to try again, and the powerful promise of God to bring His promises to pass when we do.
Just because something was true in the past doesn’t mean history will repeat itself. Trusting God and stepping out in faith, reaching for relationship and community when you’ve been wounded by it before, is a risk God will bless and richly reward.
May you be encouraged to discover this for yourself as you read her story today…
“My name is Jay, I am 26 years old and this is my resurrection story…
I grew up in the church and gave my life to Christ at the age of 6. Growing up, people would always compare all the kids. Because of who I was, I would feel threatened by adults (I was always afraid they were looking for things I did wrong, scrutinizing my every move to tell my parents and get me in trouble). I always felt that I could never trust anyone, and therefore that I couldn’t be my true self. I had to act right, always had to have a guard up. I built thick walls around myself and I had no real friends. I tried to fit in, but didn’t feel like I was really accepted or truly belonged in any circle or group of people. I always worried about everything, and I struggled to believe in people. Inside, I always felt out of place.
I was the type of person that did everything myself, in school and in life. I hated group projects, because I would micromanage and ‘take matters into my own hands,’ but at the same time I never felt like the projects would turn out great. I relied on myself to get things done, but had no confidence in myself and so always questioned the things I did. When I was struggling with depression, I didn’t feel good enough to handle anything well, and I felt like anything I managed to accomplish wasn’t deserved. I felt judged, by myself, by the people around me, and at some level even by God. It was as if everything I did was being critiqued, at least from the perspective of my own mind and heart.
I knew God, I loved him and I saw His works all throughout my life. But something was missing, and I didn’t know where to find it. In 2017, I felt really lonely, and God spoke to me through His Word.
In Matthew 5:12-13, He reminded me: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.’ (NIV)
And in Romans 5:12, He challenged me: ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ (NIV)
He began to place key people in my life who spoke words of encouragement, and He started to show me how we are his hands and feet through brothers and sisters in the church. I needed to open myself up and both get to know others and become known in the body of Christ. My walls had to come down.
I decided to give it a try and for the first time, I started to feel like I belonged, that I was good enough. As I stayed where He had placed me and began, little by little, to risk opening myself up to others, I began to really discover – through these relationships – how great God’s love, mercy and grace were. God started to bring me out of my fears and insecurities, and started to heal old wounds that I never knew were there, much less how deep they had been. Throughout that year, I got to experience fellowship and friendship that I had been missing my whole life. And throughout that year, God began to fill my loneliness and teach me how to accept others and be accepted just the way He made us all.
In 2018, a Bible Study started where God continued to show me areas He wanted to heal me in, and places I needed to commit to work on. I had pain and old wounds, but I also needed to stop living and thinking like a victim. Change had to start from the inside out, and I had to take the leap of faith, trusting that He would take care of the rest.
Even though I am not perfect and can always improve, I know now that He loves me and has never left my side. Today, even if I struggle with feeling like I am not good enough, I am reminded, and choose to remind myself, that it is all by God’s grace, not my own efforts or perfection. I don’t need to earn anything, and in fact I can’t. I am enough. Enough for Jesus Christ to die for me and shed His blood for my sin, and enough to be accepted and loved by those Jesus appoints to walk beside me.
1 Corinthians 15:10 is an encouragement to me as I seek to live in the healing God is bringing me into: ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.’ (NIV)
Today, I have friends and I have a deeper sense of purpose, but above all I have Christ, and the understanding that He is more than enough for me and I am enough for Him. In Him, my fears and insecurities are being healed, and in Him, I am brought into life-giving connection with others who are seeking to live out their God-given purpose in the world. In Christ, I belong, and through the love and grace of Christ, I am stepping into that belonging and learning to live life in community with others who are doing the exact same thing.
I have learned that we all have our inner struggles and our wounds, but together, with Jesus, we are breaking through and into the amazing life He has promised us. It won’t happen if we are disconnected from each other. But as we become willing to take risks and expose our true selves to each other, God connects us and, in that connection, He heals and transforms us, and brings us into our truest identity. I am learning to love this journey.”