Keri, 26, Maryland, United States
I was raised to believe that Jesus was and is God. But, along the way, something got lost in translation; I thought that as long as I believed in Jesus, I could do whatever I wanted without consequence. And that is exactly the way I lived my life for a good while.
My struggle began in middle school. My friend group was predominantly white and this led to bullying by a group of black girls. Again and again, I was told that I wasn’t “black enough.” This left me so confused about my identity. I thought that the bullying would end after middle school, but it continued into high school. My confusion eventually led to me disliking myself, which led to a very deep, very dark depression.
This depression was tied to anxiety, which together resulted in a life of partying. Whenever I could drink away my dislike of myself, I did. When it was time to pick a college, I chose a party school. But, being away from home fueled the depression, anxiety, and lack of identity, which, in turn, amped up my need for parties, boys, sex, and fake friends. It sucked. That life was absolutely draining, but I kept doing it, thinking that maybe if I learned how to do it right, I would get eventually something out of it.
Around this time, I made friends with this super friendly girl from my English class. She always wanted to talk to me and always asked me to get breakfast after class. I could see that she was completely different from any other friend I had, but I didn’t know what the difference was. After a while, she invited me to a campus ministry called CRU. I knew about Jesus and thought He was cool enough, so I said sure…why not?
I fit CRU into my schedule. I’d go to CRU, sing a song or two, listen to the message, then go straight out to a party. Again, this where my head was at: Jesus was cool and He didn’t care what I did, so as long as I believed in him.
Then, I met a guy. We actually met in an elevator and it was all romantic and I thought it was meant to be. But, the romance quickly crumbled into something dangerous and ugly — an emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive relationship. That was the lowest point of my life. By the time the relationship ended, I was at the bottom of a pit.
But, I knew that I could get out; see, I was still going to CRU and I did believe that Jesus loved me. So, I called up the friendly, weird girl from my English class and asked how to get more involved with the ministry. I started taking the ministry more seriously and going to Bible study.
As my understanding grew, I realized that, though being a follower of Christ requires believing, following is about removing yourself from the throne of your life and placing Jesus there. It’s about allowing your life to reflect the daily relationship you have with Him. And most importantly, I finally understood the reality of God’s grace: as an imperfect, fallen being, the only thing I deserved was death, yet, because of Jesus, I — and the rest of humanity — could have life.
The turning point came on October 14, 2012. It was my sophomore year and I was away on the ministry’s off-campus retreat. While sitting out on the river dock, I was struck by 2 Corinthians 13:5:
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?”
Following these instructions, I examined myself thoroughly.
At this point, I recognized who Jesus was. I knew that He came to Earth as the Son of God — that He was God taking on flesh. As a human, He was tempted in every way, yet He lived a perfect, sinless life. In his death, He took on the sins of His fallen creation. And after three days, He rose, conquering sin and death. In doing so, He defeated Satan, the enemy that damaged the relationship between man and God in the Fall.
The missing piece, the piece that I gained that day, was this: by accepting Jesus as my Savior and allowing Jesus to rule my life, I could have a relationship with God. In that moment, I realized that I wanted nothing more than that. So, I repented from my sins, decided to live for God, and invited the Holy Spirt to reside within me.
As I prayed this, it felt as if soaking wet sweatshirt was pulled off and replaced by an overwhelming peace and love. In a single, supernatural moment, my depression and the trauma of my past relationship were given to God. God took care of it all. My identity issues were solved. In a split second, I was found in Christ.
From that day, I have made an effort to develop my relationship with God. From my conversations with others to my spending, there is nothing I do without God in mind. It’s requires daily effort to turn from sin and towards God. Sometimes, I mess up; but, because of the Cross, I have grace. Grace is so amazing.
My life will never be the same. God has impacted me in ways that I never knew were possible. My relationship with Him is my primary focus; He’s my world — and He hasn’t failed me yet.
“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)
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