Almost two years ago, near the end of October 2020, I felt like my life was over. This was during the height of the pandemic, where I felt so isolated and alone that I didn’t even see God working. I gave into fear and disillusionment. I was on leave from work because the increasing stress had caused me to have an anxiety attack and nervous breakdown.
What I did not know was that after my leave was over, the stress at work would dissipate for awhile, before becoming bad again. Fear paralyzed me and threatened to permanently steal the joy I should have had as a believer in Christ.
A little over a month ago today, God blessed me with my current job. One Wednesday night, I went to church service, but didn’t expect anything great since there were very few people in our congregation that attended (the rest were with the children to celebrate the kids’ accomplishments in AWANA). What I didn’t know is that service has the potential to change my perspective and my life forever.
A missionary in our congregation spoke on living the victorious Christian life. This was not some sort of feel-good easy-believism kind of sermon. No, this was personal. This missionary’s message was both challenging and hopeful at the same time. He spoke of surrendering one’s entire self to God instead of trying to live the Christian life under one’s own power and strength. He spoke of the spiritual battles that will happen when one makes this commitment to God, but that we also need to use God’s strength and power through the shed blood of Jesus to bind these evil forces that try to dissuade us from fully following and surrendering to Him.
I suddenly realized why I was feeling so stressed out in my previous job, and still struggling with Impostor syndrome when people complimented me at my new job. I was trying to navigate the stressors at work under my own power! I realized that my life could be radically changed if I just trusted God in this area and let go of the illusion of control over what happened at work. I needed to let go of the pain I experienced in the past, whether from previous jobs or other past experiences.
I did not need to “prove” to anyone anything. I did not need to be the best at work just to be “acceptable” in God’s or my manager’s eyes. I just needed to give up the illusion that I could control things or that I could do anything worthwhile in my own power. Most of all, I needed to put my “self” to death, that is my selfish desires and ambitions, and give it all to God to allow Him to use me however He sees fit, and I can trust Him because He will always work all things to my good and His ultimate glory! I also realized that I needed to not fear trials and tribulations of life, but trust that God would lead me through them in His power and for His glory!
Sometimes, I still struggle with my fears, especially of trials, because I doubt I can handle them. However, by God’s strength and love, I know God will bring me through them for His glory.
–Reflections on life and the aftermath of the Uvalde tragedy
by: Patricia A. Go written: May 25, 2022
I can see the world around me sinking. Two years ago, COVID-19 was born, which crippled operations of the entire world. Many millions of people perished from the virus; many more got sick. There is the ongoing war in Ukraine, where many people are being slaughtered and are suffering because of the anger and hatred around them. Inflation here in the States has been at 40-year high, making everything from gasoline to our daily bread becoming more expensive than ever. Then, just yesterday, an 18-year old gunman opened fire in Uvalde, Texas, shooting 19 people, including his own grandmother and several elementary school students, for who knows what reason.
I was not made aware of the Uvalde tragedy until I came home from work last night. What I feel now is numbness, shock and disbelief. How can this tragedy keep on happening? How long will it be until something changes? Yes, I agree with people who say we need to change governmental policies, especially with certain people having access to guns that shouldn’t. However, even if we change policies and enact stricter laws, I am convinced that evil will continue to rear its ugly head in other, but equally tragic ways.
I sense God saying to us as a society: It’s time.
It’s time to stop chasing after the temporal in life like money, material possessions and notoriety or fame.
It’s time to hold our loved ones close, treasure the time that God has given us, and look to the things of eternity that will never fade, be stolen, or rot away.
It’s time to teach children how to love and be loved in the most biblical, selfless way possible.
It’s time to seek God’s will and ways.
It’s time to care for those who are on the brink of suicide or desperation. Engage with them. Encourage them and be there for all those who are suffering. Don’t add stigma by giving moral labels to people’s feelings and thoughts in self-righteous condemnation or judgment.
It’s time not just to enact change in governmental policy, but also bring hope and show Christlike love to those around us, which will enable the Spirit to change hearts, which will initiate a true, lasting change in behavior and temperament.
It’s time for us to forgive our enemies, and to make peace with all those around us.
It’s time to not live in fear but to live with a sense of urgency, joy and fulfillment.
Time continues to tick, and we do not know how much of it we have left. I believe God is urging us to wake up. WAKE UP! God is telling me—telling us— to not be complacent with life and to make as much positive difference as we can.
Wake up and live each day as if it were your last, because one day it will be. Either you will regret how you lived your life for eternity or it can be a day of rejoicing and fulfillment of your God-given purpose!
Despite it being a sunny and pleasant day, weather-wise, I had no motivation left to do anything. I felt ashamed, useless, angry, and powerless. Much of who I identified with was tied to my job. I was one of the top performers there, and since my job and seemingly everything that went with it was taken away from me, I was devastated. Most of my friends were tied up either at work or being swept through with the daily stressors of their lives. Besides, I no longer wanted to add burdens to them by relating *my* stresses.
I planned to take the books, magazines and DVDs my parents and I had borrowed and return them to the library, and then go to my church as a last ditch effort to get the emotional care I so desperately needed at the time. It was around three-thirty in the afternoon. I did not think anyone was in there, since most of the staff I thought already went home during this time.
I thought to myself that if that didn’t work, then I was going to have to find some way to end it all. I did not really have any specific exit plan, but I knew if I didn’t get help, this Monster inside me was going to take over and destroy me forever.
I tried to open the front door, that led to the church sanctuary, where services were held. Of course, that was locked, since there was no service at that time of day. However, I saw several cars parked in front of the church office.
“Good,” I thought to myself. ” Maybe someone is there.”
I tried to open the door to the church office. It was unlocked. I walked quickly to the church foyer where people usually ate and congregated before services. I saw a man. Immediately, I felt a heavy spirit pressing upon me, as I wept from utter relief and overwhelm.
“I need to talk to a pastor.” I told him, in desperation. Then, the man quickly notified a couple of my pastors that I was there and needed support.
After that, the assistant pastor Ted* and the youth director, A.J came out. They immediately sensed something was wrong with me. All the overwhelming feelings and past experiences that were attached to my depression, spilled in words of desperation out of my mouth. I had expected to be condemned or ridiculed, or just brushed aside. Ted and A. J did neither of those. Instead, they listened patiently and encouraged me, as I dealt with my feelings of shame, anger and hurt that I tried to bury for many months before. A.J invited me to volunteer at church the next day to clean and organize some things in it, and he prayed for my healing and strength to get through this tough time. The teens in the church were also planning to volunteer. I felt a sense of relief and hope that I was finally heard and that I was not rejected by them. I knew God had brought them there at that time to save my life!
The next day, I went to volunteer at church. I almost felt like I was working again. I was energized and felt better about myself and the world around me. What I did not know, is that God would be working again through the speaker in the evening service, later that day.
It was around 5:45 in the evening, and the wind was fairly strong, but not overly so. I was sitting outside on the church steps leading to the sanctuary waiting for the church to be opened, so I could go inside and eat my dinner, which I had stored in the church’s refrigerator.
Then, suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a car pull up by the church office. “Good!” I thought. ” Maybe that’s A. J and he will be able to open the door for me.”
It turned out to be the missionary, Tim Bundy, who was going to be a guest speaker at the church that evening! I told him that my name was Patricia and that I was a member of the church.
Then, later the children’s ministry director, Sara, * opened the door for me and I was able to eat my dinner.
I was still feeling a little depressed and lonely as I waited for service to start. However, I was still a lot better than I was the previous afternoon before I went to the church.
Bundy talked about how God had led him into the ministry and how he had found his wife. However, it was when he turned to the message that I really felt God speaking to me through him that would change my mindset for the better.
He talked about how God can use anyone, even those who have disabilities or problems to accomplish His will in their lives.
He says, “There is nothing we can offer God, but the willingness to be used of Him. [God says], ‘I have called each and every one of you to be used of Me equally. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have riches, or strength, or popularity, or fame or influence; you have Me, and as I lead you, that is all you will ever need.”
Bundy also talked about the extent of God’s love, and how God does not love us less based on what we do or experience in our life. Furthermore, he talked about how God loves all kinds of people, even the drug addict or the difficult boss or family member who does not want to hear about Him, that we should look at them with the boundless grace and mercy God looked at us even before we were conceived.
I felt God speaking to me, right then, saying, “You can forgive the people that hurt you at your former job and in your past. You don’t have to be angry and bitter at them anymore. You can let them go now. You can let Me take care of them for you. You don’t have to get even. You just show them the love and grace that I showed you.”
God also said, “I still can use you even though you don’t have a job now. You still can be used of Me if you are willing to trust me that I have the best possible plan for you. You are not useless, powerless or shameful. You are Mine, and you can draw upon My strength to persevere throughout your life.”
God saved me from making a mistake that could have taken my life prematurely, through the support and care of my pastors, the message that He spoke through Tim Bundy, and the determination and joy that Tim and Jennifer have for ministering and soul winning for the people of Ethiopia. I still struggle at times, but knowing that God is on my side and will help me persevere gives me peace and strength to not give up on what God has for my life.
If you would like to support Timothy and Jennifer Bundy’s ministry, please see this link . Like me, they are trusting God to use them mightily.
*= These names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned.
This is for those who have bore the scars of harsh words and been a target of one who believed the lie that sticks and stones would break their bones, but words would not hurt them…but they still do.
This is for those who have believed the lies of their abusers and bullies that they are not worth anything to this world, and so struggle to find their purpose and their self-worth in life.
This is for those who have tried time and again to accomplish their goals and dreams, but have gotten discouraged and are tempted to give up because of their naysayers and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their way.
This is for those who want to help a loved one, a friend, an acquaintance or others who have endured verbal assault and abuse and don’t know how.
I can relate to all of you, as I bear the psychological and emotional scars of years of verbal assaults and bullying by some peers and authority figures. I don’t tell my story so that you will feel sorry for me. I tell this story because I am a survivor and hope that by sharing it that other survivors will also triumph over their abusers and be empowered to believe the beautiful truth that God has told them about themselves, and not the verbal assaults and lies of their abusers. I was told by an authority figure that I would never drive and basically not amount to anything. I was told in so many words that I would probably never hold a full time job, that part-time was already an accomplishment for me. I was mocked by several managers when I first learned to operate a register about 15 years ago, because I did so poorly. I was told by a “friend” that I shouldn’t learn to operate a register about a couple years ago because she didn’t think I could handle rude customers or the functions of a register. I was constantly bullied in elementary and middle school about my appearance, race and other things that I had little or no control over.
Today, I still bear some of the psychological and emotional scars of the verbal abuse that I had endured. However, God put several people in my life who helped me to heal and to finally achieve what my abusers and bullies thought I could not. Because of these and other encouragers, I am happy to say that I am on the road to recovery.
Two of the people that came in my life were my mentor Jane* and my former manager Elizabeth*. They both believed in me when others did not. They saw what I could be, and not what I used to be or was. When I asked Elizabeth if I could train to be on the registers, she allowed me to train at least once a week for about 20-30 minutes. Not only that, but she allowed me ample time to acquaint myself with the functions of the register until I could do it efficiently and accurately. She was patient with me and my anxieties, unlike my ex-friend and others who basically told me to just give up on my dreams. My mentor Jane helped me to silence the naysayers and verbal abusers that were in my life by instilling in me a dogged determination and motivation to chase after my dreams. She never gave up on me, or let me give up on myself. For instance, she called various employment agencies to help me get a job in the first place and pushed me to learn how to drive myself without being afraid of failure or getting into an accident. When I got my first job (albeit part-time), I was already immensely grateful to Jane of what she had helped me accomplish. Then, I got another part time job that about seven months later became full time, and that is where I have been ever since. I am extremely indebted to her that I have been able to stay with the company I am at for over five years, which is almost an eternity in retail.
I have learned so much from these two amazing and gracious women. One of the most important things I learned from them is to never give up on yourself even if everyone else gives up on you. To anyone who still has self-worth issues because of the verbal abuse you have endured: Do not give up on yourself! You are not worth what these abusers say you are. They have critical spirits. My pastor said (and I agree with him) that a critical spirit is one who say things to others in order to destroy them or tear them down. Often what is coming out of the mouths of those with a critical spirit towards you are lies from the pit of hell itself. In fact, in John 10:10 (KJV), Jesus referring to the devil as a thief, says Satan comes “but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy.” You could say that the people putting you down with a critical spirit are working with the devil! Don’t believe them. The devil is a defeated foe! And so will everyone who works with him to tear others down.
More importantly, these women have taught me that God can still use people who have failed or don’t meet the expectations of others. During the time when I was too afraid to drive and was struggling to find consistent work, I never thought God could use me the way He has. I thought I was going to have to rely on others for almost everything and that I was never going to make any real contribution to society. However, God has proven over and over again that He works miracles and that there is hope to overcome past trauma and failures and learn from them. It may be a long road to healing, but even starting on that path is very much worth it as I can attest today. Even telling your story of how you survived past trauma and lived to tell about it is a big accomplishment.
I hope by telling my story that those who have endured abuse and survived will share their stories of how they have endured and triumphed and give hope to others who are still struggling and are still being oppressed by their abusers. Because by telling our stories, we have the power to create awareness of what our abusers wanted to silence for so long.
*=names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people mentioned.
April 1999 was one of the darkest months of my life. Not only did my future faith hero, Rachel Joy Scott, die during this month, but I was ready to throw in the towel on my own life as well. In fact, in one of my journal entries, dated April 9 of that year, I had written: I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. […] If I could only find that zest, that greatness, life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?
To the outside world, I had it easy, but inside I was crumbling at the seams. Not only was my academic load at school getting heavier and more pressured, but I also had to deal with an abusive teacher that nearly killed my soul. Moreover, I felt alienated from my family and felt that they couldn’t relate to my problems, and I had few friends, and theydidn’t know me well enough to really delve into the pain I held deep inside. Feelings of insecurity, hopelessness and overwhelm. I never imagined that I would ever make anything out of my life, as my verbally abusive teacher had claimed in so many words to me. I had little hope that my circumstances would ever improve or that anything would be or could be any different.
But when Jesus rescued me from the pit of despair and disillusionment the next year, He would change my life forever. I would find that zest life was supposed to hold, but it wasn’t in me. It was in Him!
How did Jesus change my life? How did He help me? Well, as the Anne Wilson song goes, “Let me tell you about my Jesus” and how He changed me.
Nearly twenty one years later, I sit in my room, and despite back pain, I am content with my life. Jesus has brought many supportive people into my life who have been there for me through the ups and downs of my life recently. I do want my physical pain to end and to be the end of all pain and suffering in this world, not only for me, but for all those around me. However, I know and trust that Jesus is with me through it and that He will give me the strength I need to persevere and to live for His glory.
Recently, my former pastor wrote me something that I thought was very wise and gives me hope in trials: Remember as believers our suicide is dying for self and living for Christ. Why not consider yourself dead and obey God?
So here I am, twenty one years later, still dealing with physical pain and in the grips of pandemic protocol, while Jesus is stripping away the selfish, insecure, overwhelmed, feeling-hopeless me, into a bright light that shines to the world for Him.
Jesus can change anyone’s life. Even if you feel that your circumstances will never change, remember how God entered into my life twenty years ago and transformed my life forever. He can do the same for you!
If you or someone you love is feeling hopeless or suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at: 800-273-8255. There IS hope when you are alive,. and there is help out there!
I can somewhat relate to Simone Biles, but on a smaller scale, of course. I can relate to the feelings of being overwhelmed and being pressured to be the Best by oneself and those around you. I can also relate to the feeling that you have let everyone down if and when you fail. I can relate to the burdens of having to conform to 1,080 (a hyperbolic estimate) or so expectations of you placed by those around you. However, God used my feelings of stress and overwhelm to teach me many things about being human and coming back stronger.
Last year, in late October, I became so overwhelmed with the pressures and stress of work that I had to take a leave of absence from work. I had just moved from the state where I lived in all my life, about six months prior, and suddenly I felt like everyone had just abandoned me because I didn’t meet their expectations. Additionally, since this was in the midst of the pandemic, I could not attend church or meet new people. I thought my life was over.
However, even though I had significant stress even in my leave, one of the good things God brought me from this situation is to make time for self-care. Often, Olympic athletes like Simon Biles and Kerri Strug are pressured to do so much for others’ viewing pleasure that they are forced to neglect rest and self-care. This needs to change. The Bible says self-love is wrong and is one of the negative qualities listed in 2 Timothy 4. However, I don’t think the Bible means that taking care of one’s physical and emotional health is wrong. What I think was meant by that passage in 2 Timothy is one that is self-indulgent to the point where they neglect others’ needs or that they love themselves in such a way that they become vain and self-serving. Also, not taking care of one’s own emotional and physical needs in order to meet someone else’s expectations could also be considered the self-love that is condemned in the Bible because we are withholding part of ourselves just so that people would see us a certain way or as stronger than we really are.
Another good thing that I learned during my time off work last year is to not worry so much about other people’s expectations of me. One of the things my friend Alex taught me is to be more comfortable in being who God has created me to be, and to weed out those who try to change me into the image that they think I should be. What if we valued these Olympic athletes, and more importantly, those we say we love and cherish the most, by demonstrating in word and deed that they are loved unconditionally? After all, the Lord also loves us unconditionally. It even says in Romans 5:8, “ But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (KJV).” Even when we were yet sinners, God loved us. Even when we were actively rejecting Him and His ways, He still loved us.
I still struggle with not worrying about others’ expectations of me, but I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I am becoming more confident in how God made me, and this has in turn made me more able to minister to others who are struggling.
Through this trial, God also taught me to not be paralyzed by my fears. He has helped me through times even more recently where I felt like my performance at work wasn’t as good as it could be, and not delve into the belief that I am a complete failure. God has made me realize that being true to myself and glorifying Him are more important than meeting all the metrics that people may expect me to meet. Yes, I still want to do the best I can at work performance-wise, but I don’t want to stress if I cannot do as well as I (or others) may expect or want of me. I can also remember what one of my managers said to me, “ I assure you that all of the management team know your work ethic and how consistent you are so don’t stress out if you have a slower [performance] occasionally.”
I also wish all the Olympians and anyone else who feels pressured to perform at a certain rate would know that it is OK to fail sometimes or not be able to be the Best all the time. I wish those around them would remind them that they are still worthy as human beings even when they show vulnerabilities and shortcomings because we all do. No human is perfect, but every human has intrinsic value. That is what I ultimately learned during my time off work last year.
God has taught me so much over the last year or so since the pandemic started. One of the most significant lessons He has taught me is how to be more real both to Him and to those around me.
It’s always refreshing to be able to be around those who are honest in both their character and their demeanor. Being genuine, or real, to me involves possessing these characteristics. A lack of or deficiency in these traits may indicate a lack of authenticity in a person.
Being real involves a willingness to be honest about who you really are–The most genuine people don’t only talk about the best parts of their personality or their lives, but they show the tough stuff that they have gone through as well. A good example of this is my friend Alex, who has revealed himself real and raw whenever he shares something with me or the world. Several of my pastors have also strived to be genuine by revealing their struggles with sin and temptation, as well as how they have overcome some of them, and how they are constantly working to become more godly. They don’t lord over people or have a holier-than-thou persona.
Being real involves being able to be honest about how you are really feeling.–Nothing is more surface than answering the question of “How are you?” with a flat “fine,” especially if that is not the case. What’s even worse is when someone is trying to answer the “How are you?” question honestly, and the person asking the question blows them off and doesn’t really care for their true answer. When you create an environment that is free of judgment, ridicule and condemnation and really take the time to care about how a person really feels about something, the more likely the person will be willing to share their authentic feelings about a situation.
Being real involves losing the need to always impress people and instead just be our true selves.–I felt that my one ex-friend always wanted to impress me with her “holiness” and her supposed religiosity. I finally saw through that, and now that is one of the reasons why she is now my EX-friend. If a person consistently expects you to impress them with a certain type of persona instead of being who you really are, including your flaws and foibles, chances are they are toxic to be around. You should probably show them the door. Either way, we should strive to be our true selves around those we care about in order to free them to be who they really are. The people who truly love us will want to know our real selves, and not just the persona you are trying to create to impress them or the persona you feel you must show to the general public.
Being real is crucial to building trust and maintaining good and lasting relationships with others. If you cannot be who you really are, then people are really not getting to know the real you. If they like “you” they are not liking the Real You, only the image of who they think “you” are. When people are acting fake or hypocritical to me, it feels like they are lying to me because in a sense they are. When one lies, they erode whatever trust I had in them. When one is authentic, however, it is one of the most refreshing, elating and freeing experiences one can ever experience in life.
Some rules have had a legalistic effect on me. Instead of reminding me of boundaries to keep me from sinning, many of the world’s rules have put unnecessary burdens and pressures on me, and have restricted my expression of who God made me to be. However, I am also not talking about all of the world’s rules necessarily, but those in particular that only serve to bog down (i.e…red tape, so to speak) or that really only serve those with privilege and power.
An example of those kind of rules are man-made morality rules such as not being allowed to cry at certain times or rules for autistics like me about what kind of stims are “acceptable” to society. These rules are found nowhere in Scripture or any other religious holy book that I know. To be honest, most of these rules only serve to ease the discomfort of people who are considered more “normal” or privileged, so they don’t have to confront or serve those who have some kind of marginalized identity. For instance, there is this unspoken rule that one is not allowed to cry at work. I understand the rule if it keeps us from serving the people we are paid to serve, but how about a worker crying in the breakroom or in a certain office space where there are no clientele around?! What if said worker’s family member or spouse just died? What if the boss was so overtly critical of them, that the worker was so filled with anguish and anger and did not want to spew words of anger at the boss, so he or she just cried? Yes, it may make some people around them a little uncomfortable, but what if a crying co-worker or subordinate would also teach us how to be more compassionate and caring of others in need? If we refused to abide by another unspoken, man-made social rule that we are supposed to either ignore or stare at those “crazy” people who have cried at work or in public, and instead compassionately try to help and comfort them? What if we killed the expectation that people are supposed to have everything all figured out and hold it all together for everyone, and hide all the pain they feel inside, just so we don’t feel uncomfortable? What if because they tried to follow this expectation to hold everything together and “be strong” they one day completely shut down or explode, tired of wearing a façade 24/7?
Another example of this kind of rule is the expectation that one must never talk to oneself out loud. First of all, we talk to ourselves all the time in our heads, anyway. Second of all, it can restrict creative artistic expression. Sometimes, when we talk to ourselves it can help us figure out things in our lives, like correcting erroneous ways of thinking or helping us figure out how we will do a difficult tasks as we talk through the instructions to ourselves. However, some people think it is “weird” or “inappropriate,” and I have heard some people even fear people who talk to themselves. Why? Talking to oneself does not equate to committing an act of murder or adultery. Yes, it may be outside of the “norm,” but who determines what is normal, and how does just talking to oneself hurt other people?! I am convinced some rules are just there to ease the privileged’ discomfort and of them having to confront a unique and/or hurting world.
However, God’s rules are never supposed to have this legalistic effect. God’s rules, in contrast, bring one into an awareness of one’s sinfulness and into a magnitude of His grace for you, even if you break one, some, or all of His rules at some point. Also, God’s rules do not restrict freedom of expression to who He has made you to be.
God’s rules, or commandments, still allow my Gonzo-ness to come out without restraints of anything other than His perfect and good moral guidelines. It is when people add to His rules things that were never mentioned by Him or things that just burden people under the red-tape of legalistic and nonsensical obligations that our uniqueness and beauty as people are stifled.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30: Take my yoke upon me and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light (KJV). His yoke are the commandments we are expected to obey as we abide in Him by His power and grace. If you find that following certain commands have become burdensome and demanding, then maybe part or all of the rule that you are following does not come from Him, but are probably man-made in some way.
There has been much division and enmity in this country between Republicans and Democrats, Blacks and Whites, Immigrants and people who have been born here, and between many other societal identifiers. Then, my good online friend introduced to me to Fraggle muppets, and in particular, Gonzo, who embodies who I would like to be like in some ways.
For years, I have struggled to accept who God created me to be. When I was growing up, I was on the outside looking in, and frantically trying to achieve good grades in my classes to somehow someday be truly loved and accepted as I am, and, in turn, accept myself as well.
Though I still struggle sometimes with accepting myself as God created me to be, when I discovered Gonzo and more of who he was and is as a Muppet “Whatever”/alien, I realized many things about appreciating and embracing diversity, including my own.
Gonzo is a very unique creature with a personality that can be described as “eccentric,” “eclectic” or “weird.” However, Gonzo also strives to embrace his life and those around him fully. Gonzo is secure enough in who he is as a Whatever/Alien that he doesn’t try to change his personality or being just to be approved or accepted by others. Gonzo’s personality and attitude toward life has taught me that I am GOOD the way I am. I don’t mean to say that I don’t struggle daily with sin (I do) and that I should not try to change my sinful ways and repent of them (I should). However, what I mean is that the way God created me is inherently good. Also, I do not have to constantly seek approval or validation from other people to confirm this fact. Also, if people do not like the way I am, and it is not for some sin I committed against them, but for something that is a part of how I was wired, I do not have to doubt if I am worthy to be alive or if God truly loves me or not.
Gonzo and his friends have also taught me some important lessons about how to truly love others. When we truly love others, we will accept them for who God created them to be without trying to change them into something they are truly not. Gonzo’s friends, and especially his girlfriend, Camilla, who is a chicken, do not really care if he is weird and do not really try to change him into being more “normal.” Also, my real friends and others who are on Team Me will embrace me the way Gonzo’s friends have. If I am a really friends with someone else, I will not try to change them into the person I want them to be if that is not how God created them or how they were wired by Him in the first place. I will love them unconditionally. Gonzo also demonstrates this to his girlfriend Camilla by not trying to stop her from expressing herself in “chicken talk” or by forcing her to change some aspect of how she was already created. Even though Gonzo and Camilla are very different from each other, they truly love each other even and because of their unique qualities.
We should too. Instead of having enmity against the other “side,” so to speak, maybe we should seek to understand where they are coming from. Instead of mocking or shaming the “weird” or “eccentric,” or letting other people bully or mock them, we should stand up for these unique individuals and learn from them. Maybe, we could make a new friend. After all, there is a Gonzo-like uniqueness in all of us that helps us embrace life fully, with all that there is.
I have struggled on and off with depression for more than 25 years. However, God always brings people and certain things in my life that help me through these tough times and give me much hope. The three main things that God brings into my life to help me through a depressive episode are the strength to persevere, support, and hope.
Growing up, I found it extremely difficult to make and maintain friendships because of the problems I had understanding how to socialize with others. I felt like the odd ball out. I felt lonely and that if people really knew the true me inside, they would completely avoid even talking to me, let alone be my friend! This made me feel extremely lonely and even suicidal at times. However, about ten years ago, about the time my mentor J came into my life, I found a good, bible believing church to attend. I started to have the hope that maybe people would like me for who I was. I started opening up about the pain and the struggles I had in my life, and I discovered something that I had never really known before—acceptance and love—from my peers. Not only that, I discovered that when I shared who I really was, warts and all, in this blog and with those who were close to me, that I freed them to share their struggles and forged a deeper connection with those around me.
One of the darkest periods of my life thus far was when I was in my early teens. My parents were struggling with paying for two houses.—One they still owned and wanted to sell, the other was the one they just bought. I really struggled with making lasting friendships because of my problems with socializing and the fact that my peer groups were starting to form cliques, and I didn’t belong to any of them. I also struggled with severe OCD and an eating disorder. They were like clouds hovering over every part of my life.
However, God did not let me give up. He sustained me and loved me, even though I did not yet know Him or acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. During that time, God gave me strength to get through each day. Though I wasn’t happy or in good spirits, I was still alive.
Yet another difficult period in my life was when struggled to find a job that suited my skill set. Towards the end of that period, God brought my mentor J into my life. She did not see a person void of hope and skill, as some others did. She saw a person that had potential. J believed in me so much, she persisted in pushing me to find work and did not let me delve into despair. Finally, in June 2013, I found, what was going to be, my first steady job outside my home, for a long time. I learned so much there. My depression really began to lift, and I began to see my potential to positively impact the world around me for the first time.
Not only has J helped me in my job searching, but she has also helped me learn new things and conquer my fears. For instance, I had a fear of driving because I believed the lie that I would never learn to drive and that I would not amount to much in this life. This lie was first told to me by someone in authority that I was taught should be respected and trusted. What I didn’t know at the time was that authority figures were sinful humans like me and sometimes made mistakes too.
J had great influence on me too, but she believed that if I just had enough practice, I would be able to drive myself. About a year later, J’s prediction came true and I got my first car! The reason why I had not been able to find a good job earlier and was depressed and down on myself was because I really feared driving. Thus, I never drove, and this fear kept me for applying for jobs that required driving for more than 5 to 10 minutes, which really narrowed the jobs that I could get that matched my skill set. God brought J into my life not only as a support, but also to give me hope in my life.
God has always given me the strength to persevere though my trials, has given me support in the midst of it, or has given me hope that things would be better in the future if I continued persevering through it. God has used these trials to make me a stronger, more compassionate person, conformed to the image of His Son. If you or someone you know is going through a trial right now, let me encourage you to trust that God will also give you the strength to persevere, supportive people in your life, and/or the hope that things will get better soon.