Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When there is more hard...

It was October. I was a sophmore at St. Augustine All-Girls Academy. I had just transferred there to be with my best friend, Stephanie, after a difficult first year at Strongsville High. Difficult enough that I spent most of the year depressed and struggling with thoughts of suicide. The move to SAA was supposed to be my ticket to happiness. And it was...for about the first two weeks. After that, everything changed. Stephanie - for reasons I can only guess at - suddenly turned into my worst enemy nightmare. It was bullying at its ugliest in the way only girls can manage - with words rather than punches. The way she would walk up behind me in a busy hallway between classes and whisper, "You're fat" in my ear or how she would humiliate me in front of a whole classroom of girls by saying some snide comment in my direction. Then one morning I found two pictures of overweight girls cut out from a magazine with hurtful words written on them that she had stuck to the front of my locker. Thankfully, I had arrived early so the halls were almost empty which spared me further humiliation. But enough was enough. I couldn't go on living like that.

I remember wishing I could talk to my sister in that moment. Hilary had been a voice of encouragement over the course of my depression - always talking me down from that ledge. She was in college at the time and had gotten involved with a group called Campus Crusade for Christ. Hilary and I had had long conversations about faith and Jesus but I still wasn't sure how I felt about it all. It wasn't that I had a hard time believing, I just wasn't ready to commit my life to it. That day, I was brought to a crossroads. As I sat in that hallway, humiliated and alone, something caused me to pull out a small booklet Hilary had given me that I kept in my book bag. It was a guide to knowing God (as seen here) with a prayer at the end asking Jesus into my life. I stopped at the prayer, knowing I was on the edge of some life-changing moment. It was now or never. I knew I'd reached the end of my current life - that I was ready to commit suicide unless something changed. And God, based on what I'd heard about Him, seemed like my only hope. And so I prayed this prayer in my heart (twice - for good measure I guess. In case the first time didn't take):

"Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be"

From that day forward, life was never the same. The funny thing is, my circumstances didn't change right away. Stephanie continued to give me a hard time and I continued to face humiliation. The difference was that my outlook changed. I had something to cling to in the darkest of hours - like a mother hen draws her chicks under her wing, so God drew me under His. Jesus was and is my refuge, my example, my everything. Four years later I received a call from Stephanie apologizing for what she had done. She said her new found faith in Jesus had prompted her to make amends. That was a miracle.

It's uncomfortable to relive that part of my life and to remember the shame and humiliation . To dive back into that time when everything was dark and I was so close to choosing death instead of life. And then I come back to what my reality is now on this sunny beautiful afternoon over a decade later where so much has changed.  Where life has created life and before me are two little boys who are a part of me and my continuing story. It feels so far from where my story with Christ began and I am ever grateful for that.  However, I will never forget the power found in the pain I faced. Pain was and still is one of the fastest ways God makes paths into my heart where there wasn't one before. As this post so beautifully puts it - when there is more hard, there is also more Jesus. So while I am thankful for the freedom and joy I experience today, I am also thankful for what is hard and what is painful because it invites more of Jesus into my life.

"...But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God's love for them
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, 'Salvation comes from the Lord."
                                                    Jonah 2:6-9


  1. Thanks for sharing your testimony Lauren. I am always amazed at how God works and your story is a beautiful one of Gods love and protection. I am so glad you Went into his arms so you could be such a blessing and miracle for my cousins story.


  2. I needed to read this. I'm currently sitting on my red chair feeling positively sorry for myself. I'm feeling cornered & bullied myself...

    I am thankful that He is close to us in the midst of BLAH.


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