I was a self-righteous teen.
I knew all the right answers and had read the Bible more than anyone I knew. I always made the right choices and peer pressure barely phased me. I had very few friends as I was homeschooled and highly sheltered – thus the epitome of uncool. But I didn’t really feel like I needed friends. I had my Bible, my Christian cds and magazines and that was good enough for me.
Then, fairly suddenly, I sinned. Slipped and fell and landed face down in the gunk I had managed to avoid for so long.
This led to a massive identity crisis. Everything I had known about myself (“I don’t do this.” “I don’t do that!”) now had to be scrapped. I became quite depressed because of it. It was then that I started praying Psalm 23. Specifically these four words: he restores my soul.
I wandered around in my awkward state for a long time. I floundered. I got myself into even bigger trouble. Some people chalked up the behavior of the formerly saintly Victoria to bipolar disorder. (As an aside, please DO NOT self-diagnose anyone with psychological diseases. If you think someone has a problem, have them see a doctor. Any other response is extremely unhelpful.) Really, though, I just had a sinful nature and zero practice in saying “no”.
After about four years of misery, I scheduled an appointment with a Christian counselor. At this point, I was living with the guy I was seeing, fairly ostracized from my family (who, to be fair, had no idea what to do with me) and barely hanging on to any semblance of faith. I also met with a pastor at the church I had fallen away from and between the two of them, they helped me get back on track. I’m grateful beyond words for their encouragement and support. Sometimes, these things are just too big to conquer alone.
With their help, I got my own place, got plugged in at a new church, made a point to get out of my house and make friends. It was September of 2008, sitting in a Bible study at Erica Stillar‘s house that I realized that my prayer had been answered. It was five years of praying four words but I’d finally arrived at the answer! As we were closing, I shared the short version of my journey and I just sort of broke down. But in a joyful way. I was completely in awe of being restored.
Soon after this, I moved into the next season of my life (pardon the Christianese!) and began praying another part of Psalm 23. I had spent years moving frequently because of random circumstances and I hated it. It felt like I moved at least twice a year, some years more than that, and it really sucked. I just wanted to be settled. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…
This time around, though, I was armed with more faith. If it took me another five years, or even ten, I knew that the Lord would be faithful. Funny enough, my prayer wasn’t answered the way I thought it would be. But two years later, almost exactly, I got married to a man more incredible than the guy I’d hoped and prayed for. And finally – finally! – was able to truly feel settled. We made a point to get involved in a local church here in Seattle and all of this for me has been nothing short of a miracle.
Sometimes, in our lives, we feel like we get stuck in one spot. I always think of Moses who was hanging out in the desert watching sheep for 40 (literal) years. My last 7 years feel very small compared to that. But it’s taught me that in big picture, it doesn’t matter if it’s a rough Monday or a terrible month or the worst decade of your life – God is faithful. And yes, sometimes it sucks to hold on for as long as it takes. (Believe me, I know all about the massive suck!) But keep holding on to the promises of God.
I didn’t mean to write a book here. It’s been punctuated (at least a few times) by running to the bathroom to dry my tears. I’m thankful to be moving on to the next place – prayerful, and trusting that the Lord will get me there safely.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1