I'm telling my testimony at church tomorrow and I'm pretty nervous. Just thought I'd share it:
I could start where every one else seems to: I became a Christian when I was 6 years old at camp. Blah blah blah. Don’t misunderstand me; that moment in my life holds significant value to me. I still remember my counselor, although I don’t recall her name. She took the time to show me Christ’s love. I still remember lying on my stomach on my top bunk (we had to get there early so I could get a top bunk – When I was older, I wanted to leave home early so I could get a bottom bunk). I remember burying my head in my pillow and asking Jesus to live in my heart. So I guess that’s where my journey begins. But starting there seems so senseless; I didn’t fully understand the significance of the words I prayed when I was 6 years old.
So I’m going to fast forward a little bit. In grade 8 I considered myself a Christian. I went to church and Drop-In. I had been going to Mini-Yo-We every summer. I prayed. But at that point in my life, there were two people that influenced me a great deal. Their names were Calvin and Colin. Now, for those of you who haven’t already heard of these two guys, you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that nice to have people influence us.” But for those of you who know about Calvin and Colin, you know that grade 8 was a very hard time for me. I dreaded getting out of bed and making the two minute walk to school for fear of facing cruel insults and hateful ridicule. For a young girl who was already self-conscious and unsure of herself, this was not helping. I came home with a tear-stained face on countless occasions and began calling in sick by pretending to be my mom. Soon, my sadness turned to anger and I began fighting back with words – very hateful and angry words. I yelled at Calvin and Colin. I yelled at my teacher for seeing what was happening on a daily basis and not doing anything about it. And on those days when I was home “sick,” I yelled at God for letting Calvin call me a Hippo and letting Colin call me stupid. I yelled at God for making me ugly. Eventually, I became so desperate to be accepted and to feel comfortable with myself that I slowly began eating less and less – I would go a whole day without eating much, but then I’d wake up in the night with hunger pains and sneak down to the kitchen to eat – I wasn’t a very successful anorexic.
I remember one particular day, I came home from school, and as soon as I shut my bedroom door, I burst into tears. I cried hard for a long time. That day, I was put into a group with Colin. Whenever I tried to participate in our group’s discussion, Colin would give me dirty looks and tell everyone else in the group not to listen to me because fat girls are stupid and don’t have anything important to say. That day in my room, I looked for comfort. I cried to God to make me pretty and to make me skinny. I grabbed my Bible and asked God to tell me something. I just opened it up and read the first words that my eyes rested on: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18. I cried even harder. God was telling me what was really important – not what other people thought of me, but what was in my heart, which brings us back to that night at camp on my top bunk when I asked Jesus into my heart. That’s what’s important. That’s what’s eternal.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that everything was perfect after that. I still came home crying some days. I still called in sick. I was still sad sometimes. But I kept that verse with me in my heart to remind me of what was really important. I still care about how I look, but I don’t base my identity and worth on it. And to quote one of my favourite books: “I don’t think we should base so much on weight, muscles, and a good hair day, but when it happens, it’s nice. It really is.” Fortunately, I’m having a good hair day today.