My Testimony

Like most people, my testimony has changed over the years…many times.  Now at 40, I watch others sing praise songs with such fervor, and I often wonder if they have any way of really knowing what they are singing about.  I don’t mean that from a seat of judgment, more from a perspective of my own experience…how I thought, once upon a time, I knew that kind of faith.  That kind of faith, is not a gift that is just given to you, it is learned through tests and trials.

If you had asked the 15-year-old version of me for my testimony, you would have heard something like this…

I grew up in church, always knowing who God was and in church every time the doors were open.  My Mom was the church secretary and my Dad served as close to a Deacon as he could come (since my Mom was previously married).  We are Southern Baptists to the core…Ice Cream socials with homemade ice cream on the church grounds, no dancing, lunch after church on Sundays before choir practice but before Sunday night prayer meeting…Church on Wednesday night…you get the idea.  I could quote the Bible, I lead Bible studies, I went to church camps and I had been baptised when I was 6 years old after praying with the Pastor.  This was what I wanted everyone to see…while the real me was dying inside.  My home life was a wreck.  I had no control over that side of things, so I started locking myself in the bathroom at night with little things at first, like paperclips or sharp tweezers.  That first scratch was so freeing.  I could finally control something that was hurting me.  The more other things spiraled out of control, the deeper I scratched…until they really weren’t scratches anymore.  I started finding sharp metal nails, broken plastic, staples…I convinced myself that these were still “safe” everyday objects that didn’t seem “crazy”.  No one would find this weird.  I think I was 11 years old the first time I left a mark on my arm.  I was much younger when I started scratching at my legs.  At that age, I had no idea that this was an actual thing.  I had never heard of “cutting” or that there were other people out there dealing with these same feelings.  I honestly believed that I had invented this personal hell for myself.  I thought I was alone.  Once I had reached the point of drawing blood with the “safe” objects up and down both arms, and had not worn a short-sleeved shirt in months, I moved on to scissors and broken mirror pieces.  Part of me desperately wanted someone to catch a glimpse of the marks and at other times, having this secret with me was power when my world was chaos.  I could just touch my arms and the world somehow lost control over me because I knew what I was doing in that bathroom.  I wasn’t suicidal, I was self-destructive.  There is a difference.  I needed help, that is clear, but a different kind of help than someone who wants out.  I wanted back in.  I wanted to have my world put back together.  I needed the adults in my world to stop being in their world long enough to see my heartache.

But then, I went to one more camp and a new message spoke to me about faith.  The speaker asked us if we were living our own faith or simply repeating the religion we had been taught by our parents.  In that moment, I realized that I knew all of the right church answers, I had the attendance record, but I didn’t have the faith that He was with me and loved me through it all.  I needed Jesus!  I went up to the cross they had on stage and I put it all down…my home, my life, my cuts.  I learned to pray during those dark times instead of hurting myself.  Satan truly does come to steal, kill, and destroy and that was exactly what was happening in my life before Jesus.  So, at 15 years old, I thought this was an amazing testimony of strength and overcoming adversity.  I had moved beyond something in my past that traps so many without a voice.  Unfortunately, a lot of cutters become suicidal and will eventually take their own lives if they never receive help.  I never publicly gave my testimony, but I certainly learned to recognize some of the early warning signs and tried to be more sensitive to those in need of help.  I became more active in my youth group and became a leader of small groups and bible studies.

But God wasn’t finished with my story…

To Be Continued…

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