Encounters with Jesus: As we have been studying John as a congregation, we have read about Jesus' life-changing interactions with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, Lazarus, and many others. Over the next few weeks, some members of our church family will be sharing about their personal encounters with Jesus here on the blog. If you'd like to contribute, contact Erika at Erika@waypointrdu.com.
There have been two things in my life that I could always depend on. The first: God and His everlasting Truth, Love, and Mercy. The second: school. I had a lot of adverse childhood traumas and events in my life: unstable housing, chronic exposure to violence, and a divided family. But from this, I learned how to lean on God. From the age of 8, I understood that He loves me and protects me. Somewhere along the line, I developed this mantra/mindset, "In school, it’s on you. Focus and do your best. Get good grades. Outside of school, it’s up to God. Trust Him, and He will provide safety, food, and peace." That was our deal. Pray, study, sleep, and repeat. 19 years later, God provided so much redemption for my family, and I was entering medical school with a scholarship.
In medical school, I experienced something that I never really had before. I was warned multiple times that failure is a part of the medical school experience. But I had been preparing for medical school since 11 years old. But I went to one of the top high schools in the nation (NCSSM forever #Unis). But I got a full ride to college. But I was here on a scholarship. I was depending on my own sufficiency and earthly accomplishments.
Still, though, I failed. No, I floundered. Test after test, which eventually led to academic probation. This destroyed me. I literally reacted with violent shakes. As all deep-seated idols do, it placed my life on hold. I began a three-year journey of depression and immense anxiety. Six months in, my little brother received a devastating, life-altering, medical diagnosis. My mom was displaced from her house and feared for her safety and even her life. I felt no sense of security. In school, I failed. Outside, God was failing (so, I thought). I ruminated over my loss of identity, while balancing medical school and family troubles. It was a never-ending cycling. The more my family suffered, the more stressed I became, the worse I would perform in school, which led to more distance from God. Somewhere, I confused God's goodness with my own self-sufficiency and earthly deeds. If I wasn't succeeding in school, why would God hold my mother's life in His hands? Would He heal my brother? Did He abandon me?
The opposite was true. In this period, God pursued me fervently. Every step I took backwards, He took two towards me. Sometimes it was directly, and I felt the Holy Spirit encourage me in the mornings. He would place Bible verses on my heart. Other times, it was indirect. He sent old friends back into my life. He placed me in a new church, I couldn't hide my pain. Slowly, I realized that He was graciously breaking me of idols and bondage. He was exposing a part of me that took pride in who I was on paper more than I did God; this entitled part of me that would sacrifice everything she had for this self-validation.
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10
Today, I am healing from that season of sadness. But I am happy that piece of me died. I am learning how to live with open hands, to be completely and utterly dependent on God. I am not sure what my future holds for my family or me.
But every day, I have God and that’s really all I ever had and all I ever needed.
"The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever."
1 John 2:17