Someone I know wrote the following words “I feel cursed.” I can certainly relate to how they feel, as I have been rejected, tossed aside, ignored, and my feelings trivialized by many in society in general. More than once, I felt hopeless and in despair about my life. Worst of all, I felt utterly alone and stuck in the rut that I made. I thought this was the end of my life story and that I would be cursed to a life of utter helplessness and despair forever.
Thankfully, God intervened…more than once. God brought people into my life who saw the value He did in me. However, they did not come overnight, but through my circumstances, the Lord would not let me give up on myself or on the life He gave to me. One such person I will refer to as J. J was my mentor. She believed that I could go far in life and even get a full time job working with many people, even when many around me doubted that I could handle such a job, due to my autism. It took six months for me to even believe that what she was trying to do would help, but finally I relented. A few years later, I got a full time job in retail that involves dealing with many customers. I am still in retail today.
Another such person is my now-former manager Elizabeth.* I had a dream that I wanted to learn to cashier, and she supported me even when many of the other managers and a so-called friend did not. Finally, after several months of training, I became a substitute cashier, and a few weeks after that, a customer was already commenting how fast I was checking her out, to her delight!
God also taught me that I don’t have to “fit in” to my peer group or in society to be truly loved, and that only what He thinks of me truly will matter in the eternal perspective of things. When I remember this, I feel more confident in who God has created me to be and less afraid to reveal my quirks and my dreams to others, even at the risk of ridicule and dismissal of them by others.
If you have ever felt cursed by society or by your life, you are not alone. Whatever pain you may be facing right now due to your abilities and gifts not being taken seriously or if you feel you created a rut in your life and you don’t know how to get out of it, please do not give up. I almost did—more than once, but thankfully, God intervened each time. Things can and do get better. God continually renews and restores people. Will you trust Him to do so?
For me, seeing that I am not a cursed person that repels others has taken many, many years and I am still recovering from the pain of rejection and ridicule in my life, but God has opened my eyes to see that I am blessed and that He is continuing to restore and renew me to conform to His image.
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.
I have had struggles with depression and anxiety for many years, but during the past five years things have really started to improve dramatically, despite some challenging circumstances, such as having to move out of state for the first time in my entire life! I would like to thank those people who have stuck by me through my life’s journey and encouraged me to never give up. These same people have also taught me how to encourage, validate, and strengthen others who also, like me, struggle with depression and/or anxiety.
I am a born perfectionist, not so much for others, but definitely for myself. I broke down in tears the other day at work because the pressure of performing at a certain rate and the anxiety of not meeting the goals I (and, I thought, the managers) set for me at the time. I dreaded disappointing them. I was afraid that they would think less of me as a person, or think that I wasn’t trying hard enough. The truth was that I had become so fixated on performing that my drive was starting to suck out the joy and motivation to even work! Anxiety was starting to take over even before I clocked in to work. However, one of my managers, Jim,* validated my presence and my character. He made it clear that he did not expect me to perform at that rate every day, and it was OK to have bad days sometimes. When someone is anxious, especially about not doing or being enough, a good way to calm their anxieties is to reassure them that you value them no matter what they do. Also, validate something in their character that has nothing to do with what they are anxious about. For instance, Jim complimented me on how I make people joyful inside.
However, I know from experience that there are things that you should never say to someone struggling with depression and anxiety. I had someone tell another person trying to calm my anxieties and depression not to “baby” me. Never disparage someone struggling as “weak,” “babyish,” or “silly.” They already have low self-esteem, and may even have suicidal thoughts. If you feel emotionally overloaded trying to help someone with depression and/or anxiety, don’t. Instead, enlist the help of another person who is better able to help them.
Another way to help someone struggling with depression and anxiety is to invest in them and believe in their abilities. When someone is clinically depressed, they feel like they are in a deep, dark tunnel with no way out. They don’t typically see their God-given abilities and talents. If someone is anxious about themselves, they may think that trying anything new or that they haven’t done in a while will result in catastrophic failure, so why try? My mentor J saw that I was depressed and didn’t want to get out of the house much. I did not believe that I would ever get a job or do anything worthy in my life. Thankfully, she saw a way out of my deep, dark tunnel of doubt and despair, and walked me through the long, but worthy process of helping me gain independence and be employed. She invested in me and believed in my God-given abilities. When we take the time and effort to invest in someone struggling with depression and anxiety, we will most likely see a slow, but steady growth in that person. They will be able to have hope and joy again. I can’t speak for J, but her investment has made a huge impact on how I view life and my challenges. So far, even though I still get anxious and depressed sometimes, my episodes don’t last as long and are not as severe as before I met her.
Sometimes, the best way to help a depressed or anxious person is just to be there for and listen to them. One of my online friends did not think she was doing much because she felt that she wasn’t able to completely get me out of my depressive episode. She did more than many people offline I know. She didn’t have to say anything. She did not make things worse by offering unsolicited and unhelpful advice. She just listened. Sometimes that is all that the person struggling needs at the time—someone that will care enough to listen and to be there for them, when no one else seems to be there.
Finally, we can pray for those struggling with depression and anxiety. We can pray for God’s presence to flood them. We can ask God to help them see His sovereignty and caring hand in the situation that they are in so their anxieties would be quelled. We can ask God to help them see the hope and joy that awaits them if they put their trust in Him and do not give up on their lives.
If you are struggling now, there is a way out even if it doesn’t seem that way right now. Don’t give up. If you are recovering, make it a point to help others out of the tunnel of darkness and help them see the Light of Joy and Love. There is always hope when you are alive.
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.
I almost killed myself. Several times in my life. Recently, my friend related his interactions with a bullied classmate that was daily experiencing torment from his (the classmate’s) peers, before the classmate took his own life. Suddenly, I realized that had God not intervened when He did, that bullied classmate’s fate could have well been mine as well.
As a female on the spectrum, I am no stranger to the experience of having been bullied, and eventually losing the will to live. My peers teased me from everything from my appearance to my socially awkward mannerisms. The ones that did not bully me either ignored me or hung out with me out of pity for my lack of friends and social skills. They dared not become too close to me and genuinely get to really know me as a person with hopes and dreams. These people may have meant well, but I could see through their veneers.
In high school, after being emotionally and verbally abused by a teacher (Yes, you read that right. An. Adult. Teacher), I came to the brink of suicide. With little intimate support, other than my parents who didn’t know what went on until later, I thought things would never get better. I had strong suicidal ideations. I was also jealous of my younger brother who I thought had everything I lacked.
Unlike my friend’s classmate, I did not end up taking my own life. God, in His goodness and mercy, slowly revealed Himself and His love for me. God slowly brought people into my life that helped me through the challenges of my season of life—People that believed in me, that did not just pity me, but encouraged my God-given abilities and really wanted to relate to me as a person and know my life story.
I have heard and seen some people say that if it weren’t for their pet (or insert “X” thing/person here), they would have no reason to live. I say, if I did not have God and He never intervened in my life, I would have no reason to live.
Thankfully, God is my reason to live, and Hedid intervene in my life numerous times when I needed Him the most! God has also motivated me to strive for excellence in everything I do, regardless of the temporal rewards that may await because eternal ones are much more valuable to me. God has also made me realize that there are people that need to hear my story of how He rescued me and gave me hope, because many people desperately need that right now.
They need to hear your story as well. So, whatever situation you are facing, don’t give up. Don’t. Give. Up. You can save someone’s life in the future simply by not giving up on yours and triumphing through life’s challenges. Someone will need to hear your story. Let yours be one of hope and perseverance for others.
If you are feeling like giving up, there is help for you. You don’t have to go through this life alone. Please call 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Hotline) if you or someone you know is feeling like giving up on life. Remember, you are NOT alone, and there is hope for you as long as you are still alive.
Being on the autistic spectrum, I knew full well my limitations. For many years I had struggled to find a permanent job, a problem all too common for autistics like myself. In fact, according to an article by MoneyWatch, a whopping 85% of college graduates affected by autism are unemployed! (1)Many people who knew me well thought that it would already be good if I found a part-time job, though I had wanted to work full-time. Some people thought I would also never be able to drive myself places, and achieve many of the goals that I wanted to accomplish.
However, that all changed when I met my mentor Jill* and a couple years later, my then-manager Elizabeth.*
When I first met Jill, I really didn’t think anything would change in my life, but, at the same time, I unconsciously hoped that life would get better for me. I was also going through some changes in my life of which I was still trying to adjust, as change is especially difficult for those on the spectrum who need more routine. However, Jill kept insisting that I learn to drive myself and that I could eventually find a job that would suit me. I did not believe her. Even my parents thought I needed a job that I had minimal interaction with people, and that even those kinds of jobs would be very difficult to find! I eventually did learn to drive myself a few months after I met Jill, but I still did not think I would ever be able to find any job—part time or full time. Jill then helped me to find an employment agency that would assist me in finding a job. After climbing through many hurdles to find an agency willing to work with me, we finally found a friendly and determined person from the employment agency that would work with me to help find me a suitable job. About six months later, I finally got a call to get interviewed at a thrift store. Because God was with me, He helped me to be confident enough to make a good impression on the interviewer and I got the job. I worked very hard there, but I did not know if I would last long at the job. Fortunately, I was able to be there for two and a half years before I sensed in my spirit that God wanted me somewhere else. I was ready to take the next step in my employment journey—finding a full time job. However, some of the people at the agency thought it was already good that I was even employed, since it is difficult for people on the spectrum to even find any type of jobs! However, Jill was confident in my ability to find a full time job. So, we pushed through and the same person from the agency that worked with me last time was willing to work with me again to find me a full time job. It took several months before we found anything. Then, one wintry February morning in 2016, God intervened and I got interviewed at a store in the company I am with now. Though at first I was part time, about six to seven months later, I was instated as full time. The day I got promoted to full time, I was overjoyed. (To see more details on how I got my first full time job, please see this link: (https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/a-godsend-my-current-job/). If it were not for Jill always believing in me and never giving up on me, I do not know where I would be today.
About a year later, I met Elizabeth. When I first met Elizabeth, I did not know how much she would change my perspective on life and the trajectory of it. Like Jill, she always believed in and never gave up on me, even when other people around me did. For instance, when I approached her about wanting to learn the register, she immediately suggested that I could train for twenty minutes each week until I felt comfortable enough to be a certified backup, which was my goal, but I did face some backlash from others. My now ex-friend told me not to continue training for cashier because she thought I couldn’t handle it when there were difficult customers and that it would be too stressful for me. Another manager commented, “ A CSM [customer service manager] would never call you up to ring.” Thankfully, I listened to Elizabeth instead of the people around me, and a month before Elizabeth left our store, I was instated as a backup cashier. Moreover, the customer service managers called me quite often, and as the number of register-trained associates dwindled, I became one of the few who were register-trained. Most customers were satisfied with my speed and efficiency in my service to them at the register. Elizabeth also believed in my abilities so much that she trained me on some of the things that a department manager, and not a regular associate like me, does. With her, I not only continually learned new things in my work; I gained more and more confidence in my God-given abilities.
I learned from Jill and Elizabeth not to doubt my own God-given abilities and to not listen to the naysayers who doubt that I could achieve my goals. Jill and Elizabeth instilled the power of their belief in me into my life, which motivated me to prove the naysayers wrong and to realize the dreams that I had held inside for so long.
I am willing to be friends with almost anyone, but every
person that I consider to be my close friend embodies these characteristics.
No, they are not perfect, and may fail at times, but they have consistently
embodied these traits. Not only do I prefer these following character traits in
close friends, but I think, everyone, me included, of course, should strive to
embody these traits every single day, so we can make a true difference in this world:
The most important trait that my close friends all have is
authenticity. This means they always present themselves as honest, trustworthy,
and genuine. They do not act one way towards
others, and another way towards you. They don’t do things with ulterior
motives. All my close friends do not do things for people just to get something
from them, but because my friends really want to help and bring joy to their
lives. Also, another part of how they
are authentic is their honesty. For
instance, when one of my close friends gives me her wisdom, she always tells me
the truth, even if it hurts. Some people have been afraid to tell me truth
because they are scared that I will get upset at them and they will be looked
upon as harsh or mean. Nothing could be further from the truth! I appreciate this about my friend because her
honesty shows that she values me and having integrity—a rare, but needed
trait in our society today! By telling me the truth, she is inadvertently telling
me that I am worth what is true. Sure,
some of the things she has said may “sting” a little bit, but I appreciate that
because it shows that she values honesty.
Another trait that my closest friends all have is a
servant’s heart. All of my close friends
have lived in one capacity or another to serve the Lord and to serve
others. Some are serving the Lord as
missionaries. Others are serving their families when everyone else has
abandoned them. Still others are serving
their community through their resources, gifts, and talents. I strive to do the
same. When we have a servant’s heart, we emulate Christ, who went so far as to
die on a cross for us, and to wash every one of His disciples’ feet, even those
of the one who would eventually betray Him!
They are constantly thinking of others above themselves, working to make
the world a better place for everyone.
Also, another trait that my closest friends all have is the
willingness to be vulnerable. I define
vulnerability as being willing to share openly not only one’s triumphs and
victories with a trusted person, but also one’s trials and struggles. When I
see someone that is unwilling to admit to me or to the world that they are not
always “perfect,” I feel like they are lying to me in a way, because I know no
one, except God, is really perfect. Mark
Hall, of the contemporary Christian band, Casting Crowns, once said, “[I]t
doesn’t bother the world that we sin. It bothers the world that we act like we
don’t.” (CBN.com) One of my friends, Veronica,* is so passionate about being
vulnerable, it saddens her when others are not willing to open up to her. In years past, I admit I have struggled with
being vulnerable because I did not want people to judge or ridicule me. However, I have realized over the past five to
ten years or so, that being willing to be open about one’s struggles opens up other people to not be afraid to share
their struggles. It shows unity in our human-ness, and creates a deep bond
between people who are like-minded in their willingness to open up to each
other. It also enables others to help us
through our struggles, and us to help in theirs, so we will not feel alone in
our pain and struggles.
Another ultra-important trait my close friends have is
thoughtfulness and care towards others.
Along with having a servant’s heart, they are truly intuitive to the
needs of others. One of my close
friends, Erica,* knowing that I have struggled off and on with the loneliness
that comes with long term singleness, gave me a book that she thought would
help me (as it has helped her as well) with my lonely and unfulfilled feelings
that I sometimes struggle with, for my birthday. I will always treasure the thoughtfulness of
that gift and her friendship, even though we are not able to see each other
very often right now. A few days ago, when I was distraught and anxious about
several events that were going on in my life, my friend *Bonnie was willing to
take time out of her busy life to answer my texts and encourage me, as she
sensed that I was hurting and sad. I aim
to do the same for her, when she has issues, and also for anyone else who wants
moral support in a time of need. All my
close friends are willing to take the time to attend to others’ needs and to give
them the encouragement they need, especially in a tough time.
Last, but certainly not least, all my closest friends have
spiritual and emotional depth in them. This is what I aim to have in my life
more and more, though it is often a struggle for me, as it is even for these
friends. This does not mean they shut themselves off from the world around
them. However, this does mean that they are able to relate on a deeper level
with people. For instance, when I want to discuss why there is injustice in
this world, they can give me spiritual insight in wisdom into why God allows
this and how we can remedy it. In contrast, some people either don’t care about
these things or aren’t able to understand these things. For believers in Christ
to have spiritual depth to them is an essential ingredient in being able to
relate to others in their church and to get others, even those who don’t go to
church, to think about their purpose and goals in life and how they can relate
better to the world around them.
I’m so thankful to have these great, close friends—you
know who you are—who embody these characteristics. I pray that we all would strive to embody
authenticity, a servant’s heart, vulnerability, thoughtfulness, and depth to our
lives so we can bring love and joy to others, and lead them to freedom from
their pain and fears.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I am blessed that
God has provided me with two wonderful pastors, and one Pastor Emeritus who
have served and labored over my local church for many years. I have been in several different churches,
but my current church has been the best so far.
I have learned more in the past three years, than I have in the previous
sixteen years in the Lord. I owe all this to God and His sovereignty in placing
the people in my life today, especially the pastoral leadership of my church.
One of the major things my pastors taught is how to more
effectively relate to others. About
three years ago, I had a tumultuous work relationship with one of my managers
at the time. One day, things became so
bad between the manager and me, that I actually went into one of the services
upset and very bitter towards this person, even though I was not scheduled to
work that day and hadn’t even made contact with this person in a few days. So, I decided as a last-ditch effort to maybe
quell my intense emotions and be able to concentrate on the sermon that night,
that I would talk to Pastor John* about what was going on. (You can read the whole story here.) Pastor
John gave me a few poignant Bible Verses. I told Pastor John, “I tried to be
nice to him [meaning my manager], but I don’t think anything is happening. “ Then, Pastor John told me something I will
never forget: He said, “Patricia, you have to trust God’s timing. Just because your manager hasn’t responded
now, doesn’t mean God will not work in his heart later.” This not only convicted me to be more patient
with my manager, but also helped me to see that I hadn’t really been trying
that hard at all at being kind to him.
That night, I wrote an apology note to my manager, asking him to forgive
me of my bitterness towards him. The next day, I was able to see my manager as
a person in need of grace and love, rather than the monster that I crafted into
my mind for one and a half years. Thus, Pastor John was instrumental in helping
me reconcile with my manager, whom I’m pleased to say I’m on good terms with my
now-former manager and he’s happy where he is at now. Pastor John recently helped me to think
differently about my job, through one of the sermons he preached. Instead of
thinking of my job as a “necessary evil,” especially when I’m stressed, God spoke through my pastor, and they helped
me realize that I am at the job I’m in for a reason—to give hope to others
and to spread Christ’s love there. Yes,
my job gets very stressful at times, but as long as I’m doing what God (and
those He put over me at work) commanded me, God’s sovereign will and His
faithful love will cover me during those times.
Pastor Don* and Pastor Todd* also taught me how to more effectively
relate to others through how they are patient with others and willing to serve
wherever they are called.
Another thing that my pastors have taught me is how to be
more authentic, both in my relationship with God, and others. One of the things that I always appreciate
about people in general is their willingness to admit fault and to be
vulnerable, and not try to maintain this “perfect fake image” in front of
others. All my pastors model this to a
good degree, but I have especially appreciated this coming from Pastor Todd.
One time he admitted on the pulpit that he got pulled over for speeding!
Thankfully, because the police officer liked our church, Pastor Todd got off
with a warning. I found this
vulnerability and honest confession refreshing in an age where there are many
church leaders who will try to hide their sins and flaws; with the appearance
that they know “everything” and that they are “holier-than-thou.” There were
other times too that Pastor Todd was open about his personal struggles with sin
and temptation. This is refreshing to me because I feel that Pastor Todd’s
honesty makes him more relatable to someone like me, who also struggles with
sin and temptation on a daily basis. In other words, his vulnerability and
authenticity makes him more human and trustworthy!
One of the most important things that my pastors have taught
me is how to be more passionate about Jesus Christ. All of them have emphasized, over and over
again, God’s love and sovereignty over the whole world. I learned from Pastor John that God’s
sovereignty intervenes in our whole lives, down to the bosses we will have and
the parents we have. I learned from
Pastor John that if we loathe our bosses and constantly complain about them, we
also have a problem with God, because it is He who put them there in our midst,
possibly to teach us something or for God’s sovereign and good purposes in our
lives! This has taught me in order for
me to be more passionate about Jesus that I need to trust Him even in the
tougher circumstances of my life, and not to complain about the people He
decides to place in my life. I learned
from Pastor Todd that in order for me to be more passionate about Jesus, I need
to learn that Jesus loves me very much and He always has good in mind for me,
according to His purposes. I learned
from Pastor Todd’s teaching on the book, “God is More Than Enough,” that when I
become discontented with my circumstances, I need to check my heart to
eliminate any worldly and selfish desires on my part, especially the want for
something more than what Christ has already graciously provided me. Pastor Don, Pastor Todd, and Pastor John all
have taught me the importance of spreading the Good News and to show God ‘s
love to all those around us, even those we may consider our enemies.
Because of my pastors’ commitment to teaching exactly what
Jesus taught, and because they strive to live authentic and blameless lives,
they have helped strengthen and shape how my faith is today. Of course, none of
us are even close to perfect, but I will always appreciate the good that these
three men have done in our church and in my life.