Have you seen the movie, “The Greatest Showman” yet? If not, you must see it! It quickly became one of my top favorite movies and here is why – music and vocals are amazing, cinematography is stunning, acting phenomenal, and the message… the message was relevant, challenging, and beautiful. The song “This is Me” was an immediate favorite! It was powerful and moving and made you want to get up and dance alongside everyone. This song will every so often pop into my head and remind me to be authentically ‘me’. To be true to who I am and what I stand for… the only problem is – who am I? and what do I stand for? These are two questions that have been with me and haunted me for the past seven years.
I grew up in a Bible believing family who practically lived at church because my dad was the worship pastor. All of my childhood I was surrounded by family and friends who were constantly pointing me back to Jesus. I moved from Washington to California when I was 10 and from California to Georgia when I was 12. Even through all of the physical change, my parents made sure to keep Christ the center of all we did. The first few years of college are when I began to seek a relationship with Jesus of my very own. I began to ask questions and break down theology that had been taught to me my whole life. But, even in all of this searching, I still knew exactly who I was and what I stood for … or so I thought.
In spring of 2011, I had just finished my third year of college and my mother had a minor stroke that put her in the hospital on Mother’s Day. It was the first time something of this gravity had happened in my family and it hit hard. Around this same time, my sister, who the whole family calls my ‘twin’ because we literally did everything together, began to seriously date her now husband. All of this ushered me into a season of life that felt very lonely and full of hardship. I would travel overseas alone for the first time only weeks after my mother’s stroke and I would work out of state that summer for the first time in my life. I would also meet someone that summer who would turn my entire world upside down. Up until this point, my life seemed predictable. My life seemed smooth sailing. Life gave me cards I not only wanted to play, but knew how to play. Now all of a sudden, life was dealing me cards I didn’t know what to do with and I wouldn’t know how to play until seven years later.
Over the last seven years, I have seen my parents’ marriage drastically change from the marriage I witnessed when I was little. I learned what co-dependency looks like through an extremely damaging relationship. I became addicted and learned that “just stopping” isn’t that easy. I looked for love and acceptance in jobs, relationships, accolades, and social media. I learned that I am really good at dealing with and serving people. I held down incredible jobs. I had opportunities I could only have dreamed of. I cried. I screamed. I loved. I laughed. I drew closer to Jesus, but I also turned my back on Him. I wanted to die. I wanted to live. I wanted to disappear, but I also so desperately wanted to be seen. In all of this, I have learned one thing - this life, it’s the only you get. Everything that happened over the last seven years could either be looked at as a waste of time and I could feel behind at life, or, I could view them as the most pivotal years in my spiritual growth. I could view them as one major test that somehow, by God’s grace alone, I was able to pass. This gets me so emotional. I shouldn’t be here today. No, I wasn’t in some terrible car wreck or have a terminal illness. I shouldn’t be here today because I am a sinner. I don’t deserve to have the opportunity to love others or to be loved by others. I am alive today, both physically and spiritually, because of Christ alone. I am able to share His great and amazing grace with everyone because He saved me. I nailed Him to a cross over 2,000 years ago and my sins caused God to look away from His Son while He died a criminal’s death. But, Jesus’ blood ran red so that my sins could be washed white. Jesus rose from the dead so that I could live free in Him alone. What an awesome God we serve!
As I look to the future now, I see Jesus and Him alone. When I look at those He has placed in my life, I see Him and all He is doing in their lives. And now, when I ask myself, “who am I?” I can honestly and whole-heartedly say, I am a sinner saved by grace that has the incredible opportunity to serve Him every single day! And when I ask myself, “what do I stand for?” it’s this – I stand for love so much greater than anything we can comprehend. I stand for becoming the least of these in order to serve them with all I have. I stand for Christ and becoming more like Him every day! I have a long way to go in this life, but for today I will say, ‘Thank You, Jesus!’. I cannot wait to see all He has for me in this coming year and with this world adventure. There are so many unknowns, but even on my darkest days, God has NEVER left my side and He won’t start now. Here is to truly living fearlessly in the arms of the only One who can save me. May I daily live in this truth and love others just as Jesus has so fiercely loved me.