Toni, 22, Georgia, USA
I grew up in the faith, but when my parents divorced, I began straying away. I was battling a lot: neglect, loneliness, guilt, rejection. In middle school, the self-hate appeared. Suicidal thoughts quickly followed. In high school, I began searching for satisfaction and validation from boys. I still prayed occasionally, but I didn’t think anyone could hear me. My earthly father had let me down — how could I trust a heavenly Father, whom I couldn’t even see?
Things worsened when I left for college. I hopped from one ungodly relationship to another and often turned to porn and masturbation for comfort; all the while, I kept up the facade of the “perfect Christian.” No one knew my struggle; I was drowning, but in the world’s eyes, I was thriving.
Then, in 2016, the Holy Spirit began talking to me. When I started feeling convicted about certain behaviors, I knew He was pulling me towards Him. Then, my grandfather plainly laid it out: “I’m not going to tell you what to do,” he said, “I’m sure God has already told you what to do. You need to answer Him before it’s too late.” That was all the confirmation I needed.
I began pursuing God and, quickly, things began shifting. He called me to end my newest relationship and turn away from many of my sins. My eyes were so opened to the joy of life in Christ that when I thought about my neglect of Him, I couldn’t help but weep. I was certain that I would now live a dedicated, holy life.
But as I quickly learned, sanctification isn’t a quick process. Though my spirit desired the things of God, my flesh had other ideas. I gradually slacked off on my Bible study and began dabbling in some of my old pastimes. The turning point came when I went to a lingerie party and saw a Bible verse hanging in the host’s home. “That Bible verse doesn’t belong in this house,” I thought. And then it hit me — if that verse didn’t fit in, neither did I.
Again and again, the enemy tried to convince me that I needed to be cool and fit in. But I just continually prayed for God’s will to be done. In response, the Holy Spirit made it impossible for me to feel comfortable in sinful environments. He even ended some of my most toxic friendships! Just as Scripture promises, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” It took walking by the Spirit — namely, time and persistence in reading Scripture and prayer — but, eventually the desire to participate in worldly activities faded out altogether. I am still tempted, but in Christ, I have the freedom to choose God over sin.
There is power in the name of Jesus and my life is a testament to that. I went from being heartbroken to the point of wanting to end my life to being asked how I’m always at such peace. The answer: Christ. God has restored everything…my sense of worth, my disposition towards boys — even my relationship with my father. Years ago, I wouldn’t have cared if he’d dropped dead. Today, I love him to pieces. That’s God.
If we turn to the Lord in repentance, He will heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). Trust me — He is all you need.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)