This Is Who I Am | Jen Part 2

Note to Reader

This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.

I’m better for it that’s for sure. In Genesis it talks about how what the enemy intended for evil, God turned to good. I would say that this pain I’ve experienced could have continued to claim my identity. But I can tell you who I’m not. I am not conflict averse anymore. I am not abandoned. I am a child of God who is on a mission to proclaim His name and His truth for His glory. And these weaknesses, His strength is made perfect in my weakness. So do I still struggle with conflict? A tiny bit, yeah, because of my pattern in the past. But He is the reason I’m able to overcome all that fear and anxiety that comes with conflict. I’m able to be confident in who I am. If I have something to say that might offend somebody or somebody might disagree with, like the entire Gospel, there’s just this boldness now. I am bold. And it’s because of Jesus in me.

Even in the things I’m doing with my friends from Africa, that is a transformation in my heart and it’s amazing what sanctification does. It hurts, but it’s worth it. And I am healed. God really met me and has stayed with me through the pain of being un-reconciled to my friend. I realized He’s forgiven me for my wrongdoings in that relationship and it happened for a reason. As I was thinking about all that and why the pain, why the things in my childhood had to happened, why the broken friendship had to happen, couldn’t He have done it differently, couldn’t there have been another way. And then I stumbled upon a verse in Isaiah and it says, “In the same way I will not cause pain without something new to be born.” And that was such an impacting verse because when you read it in its context and you understand what’s going on, that verse was given because God was insuring that He was going to fulfill His promises.

God says that He’s good and so I believe He is good.

So God says that He’s good and so I believe He is good. Even if stuff in my life is not going so well. It’s like I can choose to look at my life and the pain in it and even the pain going on around us, it’s crazy right now in the world. And I can look at that and say, “God is not good because if He was good He would never let this stuff happen.” But if I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and the Bible says that God is good and says things like, “I’m not going to cause pain for nothing,” I hold onto those promises. God is good. I don’t understand what’s going on in my life and this pain. I don’t understand fully the reasons. Or you look at the world, and I don’t get why it has to be that way because things aren’t the way it should be. But God is good and so I can rest in that, even when everything is exploding around me, I can rest in knowing that God is good. And that belief shapes who I am. I mean it’s everything, It’s the lens in which I see the world and that enables me to rest. I am at peace. I am content. I am hopeful.

Take away the wickedness of pornography, the damage of verbal abuse, the pain of friends leaving, all of that didn’t happen for nothing because it enabled me to get here. I’m a much better person because of the lessons I’ve learned. So it’s all good. I’m able to recognize my weaknesses and try to overcome them. And to be a person who is trying to fear God more than man. Because when you’re conflict averse, it’s ultimately rooted in fearing man and man’s response more than you fear God. And that’s crippling because what people think of you can run you and become who you are. That’s no way to live. You’re in bondage, you’re a slave. So the good ultimately is that I am being very proactive and striving to please God and not man and that can get you pretty far. That enables you to live out your calling as a Christian. Why are we here? To glorify God. I can best glorify God when I care more about what He thinks than what man thinks.

The common thread in my life is God’s goodness. I mean if you know that God is good and you truly believe that then everything that happens to you is laced in hope because you know it’s for a purpose. He has a plan for each one of us and that plan is good, and if we trust in that and believe that then all the bad stuff that happens to us and around us doesn’t defeat you.

My beauty and worth has very little to do with what people can see, at least physically. None of that stuff really matters. I mean it matters and I understand that everybody wants to be beautiful, I want to look beautiful. But there’s not really any worth in that. It’s not really important. What’s important is what lives inside you. It’s who you are, not what you are. Not I have brown hair and green eyes, I’m this height, I’m this weight, I have these clothes by this designer. All that stuff is gonna disappear and it doesn’t matter. It’s all temporary and changes like every year. But that is what media and everybody tells you, that you’re worth is in what you are and not who you are. And that’s such a lie. So when you are at a place where you see that lie and reject that lie, there’s a confidence that comes with that. And being secure in who you are enables you to do a great deal and you’re free. When you accept yourself, it’s freedom. Do I know my worth? I absolutely do!

It’s who you are, not what you are.

My pain and scars give me depth, they make me more real, everything is more intense. I feel more strongly, I care and empathize with others more. Pain helps you understand others and enables you to relate with others. There’s a verse that talks about how sometimes you’re brought through stuff so that you can comfort others. Honestly, pain is what helps you know that there is more to life than just living and dying. Pain in many ways makes me appreciate this life more because going through hard things makes you really think and reflect and search for the answers to the questions we all have about our purpose. There is purpose in our pain. And there’s purpose in living and I’m not sure if we would be able to grasp any of that if life was just easy and some kind of fairytale.

Pain is what helps you know that there is more to life than just living and dying.

To those reading this story, there’s a reason why there’s pain in our lives. No one is exempt from it and it’s something we can use for good. It’s something that makes us stronger. It’s up to us to take the pain that we’ve been given and make something of it. Not to let it conquer us or drown us, but to take that pain and use it to glorify God. That might sound super sterile and cliché, but honestly when you see somebody going through immeasurable amounts of pain, utter devastation, and you watch them go through it with such grace, hope, and trust in the Lord, that says something to people. And then when you watch somebody go through immeasurable amounts of pain just be completely defeated by it, that doesn’t really speak to anybody, it’s like it’s in vain or something.

Those reading this, if they can embrace the fact that the pain they are going through is for a purpose and that it doesn’t have to defeat them, they can be the stronger for it. It can empower them really. So I think I would just want the people reading this who are going through pain to know that there is hope and that it’s not always gonna be this way. Christ is gonna come and set things right and this is just a temporary trial, press on.

Sharing my story has been good. It’s kind of made me really appreciative and thankful as I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come. It’s just really been impressed upon me that God is present, He is active, and He cares. And just thinking about the pain I’ve experienced, I’ve experienced a lot more than I’ve mentioned, but God has been constant in all of it. He’s been present. And now more than ever I believe that He is good. There is no question in my mind, just because how He brings me through it every single time. So it’s been good.