It was my 19th birthday on Tuesday and as always it’s been a week to celebrate with friends and family, eat too much and be a little spoiled by loved ones. For introspective individuals like myself. However, it’s also a time for reflection. This birthday in particular I’ve been overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness throughout the last few years of my life. One particular verse has followed me throughout this time and I find myself declaring it in prayer time and time again,
Psalm 40 ‘He lifted me out of the slimy pit and gave me a firm place to stand,’
The slimy pit
I’ve always had a pretty stable home life. I’m so thankful to have two loving parents, two brothers who are happy, healthy (and majorly irritating at times but I’m still in the birthday-mood today so I shan’t moan). Life has always been okay is what I suppose I’m trying to say. However, as stable as life was externally, inside I was very much in the ‘slimy pit’. It was as if someone had coated my shoes in Vaseline, I always felt like I was skidding and could never quite ground myself.
I believe everyone’s ‘slimy pit’ is different. I don’t have a really dramatic salvation story, no edge-of-the-seat-shocking testimony to share. When I say I was in a slimy pit I truly believe that for me (and others too) that the pit was inside of me. It was a deep void in my heart. I was perfectly happy, I’d laugh and be silly with my friends, giggle until my stomach ached at times but there was something missing and until I stepped into Church and encountered Jesus I didn’t even realise the gaping hole was there.
Recently, I came across my old diaries (notice the plural- told you I was introspective!). Reading through them I barely recognise the person I was before I met Christ. Externally my life was very similar to today- stable home life, nice friends and decent grades. I was ticking the boxes for the average, happy girl. However, one box wasn’t ticked and I didn’t even realise it even existed until I made a decision for Jesus. Then suddenly it was ticked, the final and most important box of them all. I was a Christian. A follower of Christ. In a matter of heart-thumping moments, a raise of the hand and an explosion of joy in my heart, I felt complete.
Reading the rambling words of my 14 and 15 year old self I realised just how incomplete I was, just how desperately I needed Christ without having the slightest clue I was missing a thing. What is painfully evident in the words of my younger self is the insecurity gripping me at that time. You wouldn’t know it if you met me. I was confident, always one of the first with my hand in the air to answer a question in class (I’m a self-confessed suck-up, sorry), I loved drama and dance, performing and socialising. However, internally my confidence was being majorly shaken. It felt like I was always putting on a show, acting the part that was expected of me- the happy, confident teenager with a bright future ahead of her. However, behind the mask was a lost, scared little girl and I feel like I’d forgotten all about her until I picked up my old diary and felt the weight of the ink on the paper, the weight of the anxiety, the fear of rejection and desperation to be liked.
I was constantly worried about what others thought of me and was always trying to prove myself to my peers. My last year of school was a particularly difficult season where the ‘You aren’t good enough’ self-taunts were suffocating me. My metaphorical Vaseline-shoes were causing me to slip and slide all over the place and I felt like I just needed to grip hold of something.
A firm place to stand
Aged 16 and desperate for a sense of peace and literally willing to try anything now I accepted my friends offer to go to a youth night and that’s where I encountered these strange people called Christians- who actually turned out not to be that strange. Except there was something different about them, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I then went along to church and that’s where my life really changed. Suddenly I realised what make these people different. It wasn’t that they were happy. I was happy. It was deeper than that. They were content. Completely and utterly content. And all of a sudden I was experiencing it too.
The ground underneath me is no longer slimy- even if my circumstances sometimes might be. Instead I feel secure, the ‘I’m not good enough’ self-taunts have disappeared. I realised if I was enough 2000 years ago for Jesus to die for me, I’m good enough now.
I came to Jesus with a broken-heart and a whole lot of insecurity but He took me into his arms as I was and embraced me. We all fall, we all make mistakes, we all have regrets and it seems the world will easily disregard us and tell us we aren’t enough but that’s the most poisonous lie you can ever believe.
When I spend some time reflecting on how God’s moved in my life these last few years I’m overwhelmed by how faithful He’s been. His greatest works in my life aren’t visible, they aren’t in my Uni place, my grades, even my friendships (which are all major blessings, don’t get me wrong). His greatest miracles in my life have been internal, in the depths of my heart where He’s been healing me and strengthening me, working on the insecurity which controlled my behaviour for so long.
I am forever thankful for what I have but even more so for who I am, my identity in Christ that provides me with a firm place to live my life from.
You are enough.
You are chosen.
You are called.
You have a worth greater than you will ever understand.
You are loved with an everlasting, relentless love.
This was such a personal post to work on this week and it’s been a bit emotional reflecting on my old diaries (lets’ just say I didn’t exactly hop and skip down memory-lane!). I promised myself when I made this blog that I would make it personal, that I would be bold enough to really share my story in the hope that someone reading this might connect with my writing. If this only helps one person then it’s worth it. Let me know if you’ve ever dealt with similar issues, how you’re over coming them and what God’s doing in your life in the comments below.