It’s November 30th and the wind bites as leaves are whisked to and fro around me, tumbling along the side of the street like a Solstice dance. I can feel Winter approaching, the season most associated with death, strangely bringing new life to my body. There’s a spring in my step I have not had in months, years, and in my mind’s eye I see a rush of new cells cascading through my veins, remaking themselves healthier, stronger. They say the body regenerates itself every seven years, though scientific validity of this claim is arguable. What is known, however, is that various cells of the body do in fact regenerate in specified intervals. The liver, for example, is said to regenerate every six weeks and the skin every thirty-five days. To quote one of my favorite authors, “you are not who you once were,” even several months ago. Continue reading
Why Jesus? Why is He everything to me? Why is He worthy of a life of sacrifice, devotion, and obedience? Why is He worthy of adoration and worship? Today, after a powerful testimony in church, I feel prompted to share a bit of my story and publicly declare to all of you just the reason why I love Him and owe Him my life. What I am about to share isn’t to bring attention to myself or gain any sympathy for my past, but rather to shine the light on what Jesus has done for me because maybe you’re asking yourself a similar question; maybe you’re wondering what Jesus can do for you..I pray what follows is an encouragement to your heart.
About 7 years ago I was at the lowest of the low. I was heavily addicted to alcohol, beginning to use drugs such as marijuana, and living a lifestyle of other destructive habits. I had everything going for me: supportive parents who put me through college, youthful beauty, excellent grades, a promising future, but somehow couldn’t manage to drown out the pain that was pushing to the surface. Everyday I battled with the demons from the injustices in my past, and I suffered extreme bouts of depression, anxiety and panic attacks, feelings of hopelessness and despair, physical pain and sickness, and crippling fear. In order to numb this pain, I turned to every earthly promise and remedy I could find, yet I never truly found healing or comfort. The bottle always came up empty, the high always wore off, the endorphins eventually left my bloodstream, the mantras they taught in yoga never quite brought peace or lasting change, the relationships and men always hurt me in the end. For all my efforts to find healing and hope out in what the world offered, I always came up short; I always came up empty of that which I desperately needed for wholeness. The shame and guilt from the way I lived my life, the way I misused my body and acted out my self-hatred, weighed so heavily upon me that I didn’t even want to live. Many times I wished it all could end. My heart was beyond broken, and I thought my life beyond repair. But then; but then Light broke through. Jesus, this Jesus I love and speak of, He broke in and shook me. He opened my eyes to my brokenness and my sin. Yes, my sin. I was practically living with my current boyfriend at the time, one of the many false “fixes” to the pain of my heart, and God spoke to me and in the kindest, most gentle and compassionate of voices told me that how I was living was leading to death. And I knew it. I knew I was careening into an abyss of darkness, that even though I wasn’t abusing substances like I had been a few months prior, I was still masking my pain. I was still spiraling and recognized that I had lost control of my life; yet, simultaneously as I had this realization I also saw that He–this Jesus–had been holding me the whole time. He wasn’t willing to let me go and He wasn’t ever going to give up on me. He was willing to look past all of the ways I had been living recklessly and was standing right in front with open arms, beckoning me to come. I heard Him at first as a startling voice of reason, and in the very next instant as a voice of unending, unconditional, everlasting love. It overwhelmed me and moved me to action, to buying a plane ticket back home where I found love, new life, and a fresh start surrounded by people who loved me, who showed me the way of walking with Jesus.
Surrendering that morning He awoke me gave me in an instant what years of searching elsewhere had failed to even bring me close to. In that moment I had peace, joy and hope that can’t be offered or found in anything else. I had nothing to lose except the shackles of the shame, guilt, fear, and pain that I carried, and everything to gain from this new life that I had been offered. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was seen, and I was truly, purely loved and my heart had found its peaceful rest in His hands.
While I worshipped in church this morning, I was reminded of all these things and I felt Jesus impress on me to share this with you all today. It is one thing to call yourself a Christian, and comes with its own set of stereotypes, and a whole other thing to truly be a Christ follower, one unashamed to testify to His goodness, mercy, power and love. I want to live like the latter, and I pray that my testimony of deliverance speaks to you today, whether you believe or not.
Of all the things I may believe in or doubt in life of this I am sure: Jesus is the answer, the solution, the healing for whatever problem you may have or pain that you carry today. He is near to all who call on His name, and whoever seeks Him will find not only eternal life, but that He truly is the living water that brings peace and life. Abundantly; over and over again. So I send His peace and love to you, dear friends, wherever this finds you today. To God be the glory.
: the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
: the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way
Strength. For as long as I can remember I have valued this trait and strived to possess its attributes. Before I fully knew what this word meant, I instinctively knew that it was an inherent part of my character. Passed down from a first generation immigrant father, strength was something that was held in high esteem in my household and upbringing. It was the standard that all of my performances and struggles were held against. The question of whether we were giving our best, fighting with our all, was always subconsciously posed beneath the surface of what was actually spoken. And sometimes, it was spoken.
“You have to be strong.”
“Don’t give up.”
“Anything worth fighting for is going to be a struggle.”
“Don’t be a quitter.”
“Life is hard, but you just have to keep at it.”
And though there were and are many truths to these statements, it dawned on me as of recent that there is such a thing as an appropriate time to let go of the fighting and the struggle and just surrender; to find acceptance and peace with what is, and still contend for a better life. Can the two even coexist? Contention and acceptance? I believe so. And I’m finding that the less I struggle against what I can’t control or can’t overtake, the more ground I actually win.
Eyes blinking, lights twinkling, wicks burning. In the background, instrumental Christmas music plays softly, lending to the air of nostalgia in the steamy room. I soak and sink deeper into the steaming tub, sink deeper into my decade hopping reverie as I revert back to the mind of a little girl. Of a little girl who was caught up in the magic of Christmas as she lay beneath the tree gazing up into the million tiny lights and glimmering ornaments, wedged between presents, and surrounded by the train set circling round and round, entrancing me all the more into my sugarplum visions.
In this candlelit room I am almost back there, almost back to that time when only the best was possible. Where the future seemed as bright as the neighborhood collection of lights and holiday display. Almost transported back to a season where magic and dreams were more of my reality than bills and debt and failure and sickness. Back to a time where I would never have dreamt the future would turn out any differently than what that Christmas hope eluded to.Continue reading
Hello! My name is Sofia, and after over a year of unanswered questions and unexplained pain and loss of vitality, I have finally been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Follow my journey through navigating this illness, and be ever inspired to stay fixed on hope.