When the very things that bring you joy are stripped from you, there’s nowhere fulfilling to run except to the Lord.
In the last four years, I witnessed every single thing I placed my identity in get washed away by the hurricane that is college. I genuinely thought my self-worth came from titles I held, organizations and teams I was part of, the popularity of my friend group, and the size of my waistband.
The Lord knew I was in trouble if I continued down this road of thoughts, so He did something radical – He wrecked me when I went to college. It’s far from my intentions to sound dramatic when I say He “wrecked” me, but my prayer is that through these words you will see the power of the Holy Spirit and the reality of true grace.
I was excited and expectant for my freshman year—knowing for certain that my dream school was going to be the place where I found tons of friends, became known on campus, and maybe even met my future husband. Just like it is said in Proverbs 16:1, I thought my plans were greater than our Father’s … how foolish of me.
I rapidly gained weight after a couple months of school, and I got denied acceptances in several different roles and positions I applied for. The large community of friends I longed and hoped for was the thing everyone else found, but I didn’t. That future husband? I barely even had the confidence to speak to a guy, much less date someone.
I was mad. I spun into depression. I felt lost.
It wasn’t until the end of this year that I realized something vital in my walk with the Lord: I had not been SERIOUSLY placing my identity in Christ for all the years I considered myself a Christian. Thinking I was doing it “right” by attending a Christian school for 13 years of my life, leading Christian organizations in high school, being a camp counselor at church camp, and joining small groups were deceiving even myself on the outside. Internally, I was drowning in a sea of selfishness, pride, and conceit. I was vain … and I loathed myself for it.
After realizing how broken I was, I started to recognize that the only way I would truly begin to feel freedom from the chains this world had locked me into, was to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord. I needed revival, and I needed it quickly. I started reading Psalm 139 on a daily basis:
Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. – Psalm 139-1-8, HCSB, emphasis mine
I began to realize the abundant love of Jesus through these truths listed in Psalms. I realized His love for ME, His love for YOU, His knowledge, compassion, and grace.
Even though these truths started to fill my mind more, I was still battling a giant enemy in my head. The last 3 years of my college career, I fought a spiritual war. Through every step towards freedom, and every act of obedience, Satan has been right there. Lurking for his prey. (see 1 Peter 5:8)
The reality is that I’ve only just graduated from college, but looking back on this season of life, I know that God needed me to walk through depression, disordered eating, excessive exercise, anxiety, and fear to remind me how much more powerful He is than ALL of these things. God needed me to experience life without the pleasure from the very perishable things I had been placing my value in.
God needed to wreck me.
As you walk through your day-to-day life, I have no idea what your relationship with the Lord might be. However, I do know that your story is important. Your brokenness makes you human, and reminds you that you need a Savior. We are designed to be broken, and we are created to crave something that pieces together the shards of our weary souls.
If you’re struggling with your identity in Christ today, I encourage you to ask yourself a few questions that may guide you back into the loving arms of Jesus:
- Am I looking to myself (my body, my achievements in school, my weight, my popularity) for satisfaction? Or am I looking to Jesus for true fulfillment?
- When I feel discouraged because I’m not measuring up to certain standards, are these things that will provide eternal value in the Kingdom, or are they things that will fade into dust because they are of the world?
- If someone were to tell me ONE thing they know I’m constantly seeking, would the answer be Jesus?
Sisters, far too much of the time my answers to these questions do not align with what is holy and eternal. It’s a daily battle for me to reset and recharge in His presence, but that’s OK. We are in this together.
May we join hands and sing praises to the one who has conquered the grave and overcome every trial we will ever face, for HE is the one who will mend and heal us for eternity.