A lot of us have sad and tragic, yet honest stories about our childhoods or lives in general. Some of us have been through a lot more than others. I decided to use a presentation I gave in a college class as an opportunity to witness to you all, by showing you who I really am, who I’m not, and maybe along the way, helping you find out who you are, too. I’d like to start with a quote from Pastor John Piper. He says, “Not only is all your affliction momentary. Not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. All of it is TOTALLY meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain from the fallen nature or fallen man; every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is working for you a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. Don’t say it’s meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless! Of course you can’t see what it’s doing! Don’t look to what is seen. When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40. When a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out… Don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It is working for you an eternal weight of glory. Therefore, therefore, do NOT lose heart. But take these truths and day by day, focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God, and preach them into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.”
This quote has come to mean so much to me. To tell you why, I’ll start with when I was in the 8th grade. I have a father who is an alcoholic. At 14 years old, I found him in the garage, attempting to take his own life. Thankfully, God was gracious and his attempt was unsuccessful. But such a situation can take a toll on a little girl who thinks about how she could have lost her daddy, no matter how difficult his circumstances with sin made the relationship.
In my junior year of high school, I had another sad event cross my path. I lost my grandma. Not only was she my grandma, but she was my role model, my confidant, and one of my best friends, even if I didn’t get to see her often because she lived out of state. Yes, God took her to be with Him in all His glory in heaven, yet there’s something that is just never the same when you lose a person who means the world to you. But, I pressed on.
I’ve also struggled with different types of mental illness since I was about 10. Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are the three I’ve had experience with. My senior year of high school, I really struggled with the depression. I was suicidal and did a lot of self-harming to cope with the pain I was feeling internally. I had a lot of support from wonderful friends, and God provided me with the resources to get the help I needed.
Fast forward to a couple years out of high school. Sexual assault. A gross sin and a crime I never would have thought I’d fall victim to. It drains you emotionally. It clouds your vision with fear, guilt, and shame. But this does NOT define me. Like Piper says in his quote, “You are NEW and CARED FOR.”
One might wonder what I’ve learned from all of this. If there is one thing I have learned in all of this, it is that God is good ALL the time. Not just sometimes. Not just when I’m feeling happy. Not just when things are going my way. He is GOOD. ALWAYS. How did I manage to get through this? Only by His grace. Do I still have struggles I face every single day? Yes. Is God still good? Yes. Is God still faithful? Yes! ALWAYS!
Now, all of you may still have the question, “Who am I?” Well, first, I’ll tell you who I’m not. I am not who my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder says I am. I am not defined by who my earthly father is, and I am not going to let myself wear the label “daughter of an alcoholic.” I am not defined by the different emotions of shame, guilt, fear and all of what comes with having been sexually assaulted. Who am I? “I am the daughter of a King Who is not moved by the world. For my God is with me, and goes before me. I do not fear because I AM HIS.”
“And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lamentations 3: 18-24).