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My Testimony

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I was born into what I call a pseudo-Christian family. My mom believed in God and Jesus and the Bible, but she rarely goes to church. I’ve never really asked my dad what he believes, but he says “Amen” after the dinner prayer and has always supported my religious pursuits. Because of these things, my brother and I didn’t really grow up in a church or a religious setting, and while we have prayed before each meal since we could talk, we really don’t talk about the idea of religion much in my house.

I had always been curious about Christianity. I had various kinds of Bibles throughout my childhood and I always loved our Christmas, Easter, and once-a-year-with-my-grandparents church experiences. But the topic of religion was kind of hard to talk about. My parents didn’t want to get Bryce and me baptized into a church at birth because they said that we should get to choose our religion. While I understood that, I wish I had grown up in a stable church environment.

I had attended a charter school for gifted kids from kindergarten through fourth grade. I had learned to read and write in preschool and my parents thought it would be good for me to be challenged. I absolutely loved charter school; the rigor, structure, and the kinds of kids that went there all fit me beautifully. But I was a competitive figure skater, and the work load was too much to tackle with 4-6 hours of training per day. So I moved to a public elementary school for fifth grade and honestly, while I wish I hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t gone through what I went through those three years.

Fifth grade wasn’t horrible. I made friends and fit in fairly well. Sixth grade was where things started to get bad. Slowly, most of my friends were revealing their true colors: blue for cold, red for backstabbing, grey for the area they liked to stay in, and clear for the tears they left me with. I still had a couple of friends, but it wasn’t like I had hoped.

Seventh grade lent itself to far more problems. I lacked friends, and I didn’t know my way through junior high. I was slightly overweight, and puberty had finger-painted my face red, white, and bumpy. Verbal abuse was a major part of my problems. [pardon the language in this, it is necessary]. Some common words used to describe me were “fat,” “ugly,” “b****,” “c***,” and “goody-goody,” coupled with falsified stories being spread about me. Physical abuse also came. My shoulders were bruised from being slammed into closed locker doors, and I was tripped on more occasions than I can count. Because of this, I created a new identity for myself; I went by Ali and I dressed in lots of black with heavy makeup. I retreated into myself, silencing the pain behind loud music and writing. I adopted bad habits that I am not proud of, such as binging, purging and cutting. I never cut deep enough to leave physical scars, but the words and actions of others caused emotional ones that have only recently healed.

I was circling the drain by May, and my parents decided to pull me out at the end of the year and send me to a new school. I was still healing from the emotional damage done to me the previous year, but I was incredibly relieved. I reinvented myself: no cursing, no more caring what people thought, none of those bad habits I had adopted. Because I had these new qualities, along with a meekness that I gained, people thought I was religious. I really wasn’t; I had thought “If God loves me, why did He let me go through all of that pain last year? What kind of God would let someone go through that?”

I kept this mentality for most of eighth grade and into ninth grade until I got to know some of the most wonderful mentors. High school students who knew what I went through and came out kissing the feet of Jesus. Megan and Celeste, if you ever read this, you have no idea what you did for me. These girls would walk me through Bible passages, take me to church, and were completely open to talking about anything and everything with me. These girls, now in college, still make an effort to keep me grounded in Christ and I appreciate it immensely.

I accepted Christ into my heart at the end of my freshman year. It wasn’t a moment like some people have where you feel completely reborn and the skies opened up. I just had this feeling of being complete and loved. I cried, and I mark that May as when I became a true Christian. However, it took very little time for Satan to tempt me with that forbidden fruit and I soon found myself submerged in sin again. Sexual sin, language, lying… I became a shell of the person I had been seven months prior to that. I tried to make excuses and reason with myself, saying that since I wasn’t “actually having sex” that I was still okay, or “that’s not really that bad of a word,” or “everyone tells white lies once in a while.” I made excuses for my poor actions and poor judgement. After six months of battling with sin, I finally put my foot down and cut myself off from my sin, using all of the strength that God provided. I asked for forgiveness, and I don’t live with the guilt of those months anymore.

Since then, I have tried very hard to stay on the straight and narrow. By not being in a relationship, sexual sin is not a temptation anymore, and I just pray that when I am in a future relationship, I can stand in the face of sexual sin and say “no.” I try very hard not to lie, and I am aware enough of my pride to know to apologize and speak honestly if I have told a lie. This does not mean that I am completely free from sin. I use God’s name in vein and curse on occasion. I am sure there are other sins that I commit as well, but I do not want this to turn into a laundry list. God knows them and He has forgiven me.

This past year, I dealt with a bout of depression. I was stressed and dealing with a lot of things, and emotionally I couldn’t handle it. I cut off relationships with many of my friends over things that didn’t really matter until I had hardly any friends left. I found myself kneeling in front of the toilet again, puking until I cried, instead of kneeling in front of the cross. I found myself cutting my skin again, needing a release of everything that I was keeping pent up inside. And I over-committed myself, taking on too much too fast, to try and keep myself going. I never saw myself going to these dark places, but I did. Most people didn’t know it, and I think the people that saw me sinking didn’t know how to help.

It wasn’t until one late night conversation with a friend that I started to see the light and come out of the hole that I was slowly burying myself in. My dear friend Cat was brave enough to have a real conversation with me at 2 o’clock in the morning, guiding me through some of the things I was dealing with, including why I never felt good enough and why I always tried to bury my problems in work. Cat, if you ever see this, you pulled me out of one of the darkest places that night when no one knew I was in a dark place, and you helped me so much. I can’t thank you enough.

Since that night, Cat has introduced me to her church, an open and affirming church that makes me, the sinner who still battles with bouts of depression and worthlessness, feel welcome in God’s presence. I have never felt happier or closer to God than where I am right now. I have an incredible fire that is leading me to do things that I never thought I would do.

I do not know what the future holds or where my path may lead. But as Chris Tomlin said in his song “Whom Shall I Fear?”

I know who goes before me

I know who stands behind

The God of Angel armies

Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever

He is a friend of mine

The God of Angel armies

Is always by my side




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