It has been a year. It has been a year since I sat down on my dorm bed for five hours in Goodnow Hall and typed out my most mortifying secret for the entire world to see. It has been a year since I watched God’s words reach half a million people over the course of forty-eight hours. It has been a year since I watched the responses pour in and read each one, feeling uplifted by the encouragement, touched by the stories others shared, and absolutely destroyed by the judgment some spat. It has been a year since I finally made the decision to change my faith, and it has been a year since I decided to let God change me.
If I have learned anything in the past year about humanity, it’s that someone somewhere needs to hear what we have to say no matter how small or trivial those words may seem, and sometimes, that person isn’t halfway around the world. Sometimes that person who needs to hear the words the most is the same person who is speaking.
It was true a year ago, and it is true today.
That’s where I struggle. That is where I struggle in my faith. That is where I struggle in my relationship with God. I had a story. God gave me the strength to live through it. God gave me the words to explain it. God gave me the courage to tell it.
I wrote what I thought was my testimony.
Little did I know, my faith had not yet been defined. I had not been refined.
I was convinced that I had been given that story to be taught a lesson.
No, I had been given my story to tell. What would come from that telling would be my lesson.
The reception has become my testimony because I realized I could not lie anymore. I realized I could not hide anymore. Perfect strangers, people I would never meet in a million years, listened to me; they confided in me; they trusted me. I had to believe what I was writing. My heart broke a million times as I realized how much this disease has affected me, how much it still affects me, how much it has affected my relationship with Christ.
Your judgment helped me define my beliefs. It’s funny how we fear adversity, fear being shaken by adversity, and end up stronger than we were before our beliefs were challenged. You questioned my beliefs, so I had to, too.
Is this what I really believe?
Yes. It is, gurl.
Your stories convicted me. I realized how imperative it is to actively seek refuge in Christ; I was not strong enough to heal on my own. I will never be strong enough to heal without Him. Praise God.
Your encouragement restored my faith in love—love for others, love for myself, and the love Christ has for us.
I’ve realized more than ever how malleable souls are. We are malleable souls.
One of my favorite moments in words—it’s worth being called a moment because the term “quote” does not do it justice—is credited—falsely, apparently—to C.S. Lewis. Now, I’ve acknowledged that he allegedly never said it, but I absolutely love C.S. Lewis. He’s a genius with a rockin’ testimony, so let’s play pretend for a hot sec.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
(I will say, however, most trace it back to a secular science fiction novel from the fifties, which is intriguing in and of itself. God’s providence is cool, y’all.)
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul…”
How beautiful is that? How terrifying is that?
It’s so easy to think of a soul as an object, as a possession, as a temporary idea. We can claim it when convenient and reject it just as easily. It’s our emotional side. It’s our volatile side. It’s impressionable and unpredictable.
It’s terrifying to realize that a soul isn’t a possession. It’s an identity. It’s our existence. Without it, we are not, and we are not ever without it. We are emotional. We are volatile. We are impressionable and unpredictable.
We are malleable.
We are weak. We are ambitious. We are selfish. We are opportunistic.
We are malleable.
We are influential. We are capable. We are empathetic. We are insightful…
…If…we go with God.
In my most recent post, I mentioned a meditation on Romans 12:2 that I gave at the end of my senior year. Guess what I’m about to whip back out? THE MEDITATION, Y’ALL.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In my meditation, I compared people to Play-doh because it’s great. It’s soft and smooth. It has this distinctive smell. It somehow always feels cool to the touch no matter how much we knead it.
(Those aren’t things we have in common with Play-doh. Those attributes are exclusively Play-doh’s. We wish we could be as silky smooth as Play-doh.)
Here it is: Play-doh will assume any shape to which it is molded. “It was fantastic,” I said to my congregation, recalling my unhealthy fascination with Play-doh in pre-school.
“If you put it in a seashell mold, it was a seashell. But then, if you put the seashell into the flower mold, it was a flower, and it was like the seashell never existed. So what is so wrong with malleability, with being broken enough to be molded into something as wonderful as a blue play dough flower?
Well, if it falls into the wrong hands, everything.
Because then a little three-year-old boy would take my flower and shove it up a Lego where it would be placed in the Lego drawer to harden, and neither the Lego nor the play dough could ever be used for play time again.”
Play-doh will assume any shape to which it is molded.
Play doh will harden into any shape to which it is molded.
So will we.
“We are like play dough. We are malleable and easily influenced. And if God is our sculptor, we are in good hands.”
If we open our hearts to God’s will and God’s words, we will be transformed.
A year ago, I stopped my egotistical war with God and finally decided to open up about my eating disorder.
“No, God. I don’t want to. I don’t want to shatter this image I’ve worked my whole life to build. I don’t want to let people know how shattered I’ve been, how shattered I still am. That’s my secret.”
Obviously, I wanted to keep up an image. If I hadn’t been concerned with how the world perceived me, I wouldn’t have starved myself, wouldn’t have ruined my body. I wanted to conform.
I wrestled with coming clean for months. Months.
And a year ago, God won because He always does. He pried me out of that lego, and thank goodness He did because if He hadn’t, I would still be there, hardened and hiding, not allowing my heart to be exposed to Him or for Him.
We have been given this incredible gift to impact and to be impacted, so it’s about dang time that we realize it.
We aren’t lost souls. We are hiding souls.
If we are lost, it’s because we are choosing to be.
We are traipsing around, focusing too much on life after high school, life after college, life after retirement, life after mortality, and we have no idea how much potential we hold. We have no idea how much we are isolating ourselves by not living intentionally.
We are so preoccupied with our schedules and aspirations that we don’t realize the path we are leaving behind us. We don’t realize the potential our words or actions have. We miss opportunities to change and be changed because we are trudging along with our heads ducked, shutting out everyone around us.
I do it. I do all of it.
We are supposed to reach people, to bond with them, to love actively and deliberately and well.
We are supposed to bring people out of hiding.
But you can’t find someone if you’re hiding, too. That’s not how the game works.
So come out, come out, wherever you are!
You have words to speak. You have a smile to give. You have a shoulder to offer. You have advice to dole. You have bonds to form. You have a difference to make. You have joy to spread. You have a story to tell. You have a life to live.
You are a soul to find.
We have not been given these lives for ourselves. We have been given them for His will.
We have not been given these stories to keep to ourselves. We have been given them for His purpose.
We have not been given this love to hoard. We have been given this love for His kingdom.
So, thank you. Thank you for your encouragement because without it, I would not have been able to realize that the reason I felt so lost was because I was hiding myself. I would not have been able to realize that I needed to turn around and run back toward God. I would not have been able to realize that my self-righteous heart needed to be broken by the words He gave me. It needs to be broken every single day.
In the past year, I’ve rejoiced, I’ve wept, I’ve run, I’ve fallen, I’ve stumbled, I’ve healed, I’ve sung, I’ve judged, I’ve repented, I’ve hidden, and I’ve been found over and over and over again.
It’s been a year.
And it’s been the best out of my twenty.
Praise be to God. Always.
[So much] Love [it hurts],
“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
–Jim Elliot, the stinkin’ genius