Something dark has been growing inside me and I didn’t know what it was. All I knew is that God has been trying to get close to me, and even though there have been moments where I have let him in my heart, I had never let him in fully. I kept hearing a voice in the back of my head saying that you are not good, you will never be good enough, and you’re a mistake. I guess I had been trying so hard to do more good things, to do more service for other people in order to silence this voice inside me but little did I know I was feeding the voice instead; satisfying it. The only time I did community service is when the whole world would know about it, not behind closed doors. I wanted people to notice me, I wanted people to look at my “good works” and praise me, and say “Oh Stephanie you are such a wonderful person I wish I could be more like you.” God is love. Serving God is to serve in the name of love. I wasn’t serving out of love, I was serving myself. I had been serving myself and I didn’t even know it because the Devil is so good at what he does. I’d wake up every morning and look at myself in the mirror, hating everything about myself. I’d say I hated my body but that was just a cover up to what I truly hated, which was myself. I had become a phony.
Yet I didn’t know this is what I hated about myself. The devil is so good in deceiving us, that I didn’t know I was being selfish until today. Last semester I had signed up for best buddies along with a million other clubs because I was so focused on all the things I needed to do to get into medical school, that I wasn’t really doing things because I was passionate about them. I admire people who are so good at working with special needs kids, I wish I had the that type of strength and patience to do the same. I was assigned a buddy and we went out to lunch together I became overwhelmed. Here God was trying to come into my heart again but I slammed the door in his face. My buddy, Clay, kept telling me how much of a blessing I was too him and how much God loves me, that I was a gift. I refused to accept it. I was convinced I was a mistake. I thrived on people showering me with their love in order to boost my self-esteem, when I should have thrived from God. I finally realized why I had sunk into a deep depression my first couple months in college. It’s because I was so used to being loved by so many people in high school, used to being praised for my “beautiful heart.” In college no one knew me, no one had heard of all my “great works” and so that fake love disappeared. I had become so dependent on other people’s praise and what they thought of me, I was completely exhausted at the thought of having to build a new reputation for myself all over again.
I had told Clay that my phone broke which was not a lie, it did but when I got a new one again I didn’t contact him back. For months I ignored his repeated facebook messages begging to see me in hopes that they would eventually stop, that he would get tired and give up. But he never did. So I finally decided to meet him again and have lunch with him because my heart couldn’t take it anymore. He opened himself up to me, sharing how he felt about the whole situation. It tore me apart. No one had ever been able to see right through me like he could, straight through all my bullshit. Straight through this wall that I had put up to keep people out, especially God. He knew the truth and knew that I wasn’t too “busy” too see him. Tears welled up in his eyes and he didn’t have to say how much I had hurt him, I could see it there plainly written in his eyes. Everything I knew suddenly fell apart. You know how they say right before you are about to die your life flashes before your life. Well in that moment my own life flashed before my own eyes, I saw all my past actions and relationships for what they really were as that evil thing inside me finally succumbed a deserving death. Never in my life have I ever been more truly sorry than in that moment.
I had been searching for God in all the wrong places, constantly praying for things I didn’t need when really I should have just let him in. I found God in Clay. God is love, and that love has the power to blossom in all of us if we just water it daily. Clay never gave up on me, just like God had never given up on me. I told Clay I was sorry and as soon as I uttered the words he forgave me. Just like that. God is willing to forgive each and everyone of us if we are sincerely sorry for our sins. Somehow Clay could see that I was sincerely sorry, and although I felt like I didn’t deserve his forgiveness I was grateful. Throughout history, the human race has sinned over and over again, and each and every time God has forgiven us. We have failed over and over again and yet God sacrificed his own son to save us because he loved us that much. I didn’t really understand the true weight of that sacrifice, didn’t understand the magnitude of that type of love. Because “love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (Corinthians).
Back in my dorm room I fell down to my knees, completely overcome with God’s love. Tears pouring from my soul, tears of joy and shame. I had finally realized why I used to hate myself so so much. Its because all the things I said I was doing out of love, I wasn’t doing with a loving intention. Because I couldn’t understand what love was until I let God show me. I will be forever grateful for Clay who never gave up on me and for my new friends this year who have stuck by me through overcoming this process of self-hatred. I would also like to specifically thank my roommate Kate. Although we had a rough start and both have had to struggle and fight through our own personal battles, she pushed me to go to Church and a religious retreat when at the start of college I secretly had no intention of doing so. She wasn’t afraid to talk about the big issues and how God played a role in them, she helped open me up to have the ability to love myself and for that I will always be grateful for. Clay showed me what it really means to love with a pure heart, that God will NEVER give up on me. As I lay on the floor sobbing, uttering sorry over and over again, although I felt such great shame for the sick monster I had become, I felt relief because God forgave me anyways, because he loved me. That’s all you really need; all you need is God and that is what God is, love. Everything we do should be with the intention of love.
Now everything I do, I want to do in the name of God. I want to celebrate him every day, I want to celebrate love. I want the whole world to know this love, to know that you can have the eyes to see the tricks of the Devil if we just let Him in. We all have our cross to bear, our job is not to judge others and all the bad things they have, but rather to judge ourselves and ask the question, are we truly letting God into hearts. Just like there is only one key to every lock, God is that key to unlocking our heart’s ability to love in the purest form.
A couple weeks ago my friends were doing this thing where we said five things we hated about ourselves. I didn’t answer them and they got mad at me but the truth is, I didn’t answer because I didn’t know how to. There weren’t five things that I hated about myself, there was just one thing and I didn’t know how to put it into words because I didn’t honestly know exactly what it was. It was this dark weed that had taken root into the soil of my heart because I had failed to properly maintain the beautiful garden that my heart had the potential to be. I hated that thing, and now I have finally killed it. Darkness can only be killed with love. And love is God. He is the answer to everything.
I can look at myself in the mirror and not be filled with hate for myself, but rather have the ability to finally appreciate the gift that I am. I have a long way to go and I’m surely no saint but I finally know what love is, and my mission in life, a mission that should be everyone’s life, is to love with a pure heart by serving God as my only intention.
i have a question for you. when you think of god, how are you portraying this power within what, or who god is, in your belief system.. a person? a greek-like of sorts, super powerful, hugging with arms of love feeling, greater than human, yet still human-like super hero? a form of embodied god?