I accepted Jesus into my heart at a young age, and experienced firsthand his love and protection through the storms of an abusive childhood. But as I got older, I struggled with what my relationship with God meant for my adult life. I knew He’d saved me from a troubled past to prepare me for a better future, but I thought it was up to me to achieve that future.
I wanted a sense of stability in life to make up for my rough childhood, and I secretly believed that if I could get the perfect GPA, the perfect title at the office, the perfect pair of boots, and the best decorated apartment, I’d never have to worry again. For a time it seemed to be paying off. I got everything I’d worked so hard for. But in my mid-twenties I became incredibly ill, and everything came crashing down.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted by a life spent working hard just to keep my head above water and by a body that could no longer keep up with my frantic pace. At that point, I felt as if I was figuratively drowning. I didn’t even have the energy to say the long and unselfish prayers that I thought God wanted to hear from me. So one night while lying in bed I told God that I’d spent my whole life feeling like I was using all of my energy just treading water but still barely keeping my head up to breathe. I cried out to Him for help, telling Him I didn’t want to do things my way anymore. I just wanted Him to save me.
As I was crying I saw a picture of Jesus holding me up in the water. And then He plugged my nose and said “you might go under the water, but I’m going to pick you back up again.” While it might sound like a silly image, I knew that I’d seen God telling me that He had me in His arms. I could stop trying to do everything myself and trust in Him with my life.
Over the next two years I did get sicker before I got better. But I remembered the peace I’d felt when I prayed that night, and I believed that God was healing me. Even though I still wanted to get healthy as quickly as possible, I was no longer afraid of the process or what the future held. Instead I felt a sense of peace and confidence in what God could accomplish in my life. I knew that He had big plans for me beyond a life of illness, anxiety, and fear.
I made the decision to be baptized again as an adult and rededicate my life to Jesus. Since that time God has peeled away the layers of protection I’d built around myself, helping me deal with issues of materialism, anxiety, and perfectionism. And while I still have many issues I’m dealing with, such as the desire to hurry my future or the tendency to want to fix everything when someone I know is hurting, He’s freed me from the stress of feeling like I
have to do it all on my own.
I no longer live with the constant fear that I have to work harder to achieve the future He has planned for me. And I no longer desire the perfect wardrobe, apartment, or job title. I feel as though I’ve been set free from my own high expectations, and I’m able to relax and enjoy the moment even when life tries to throw a list of demands my way. I’ve seen His work in my own life, when I felt helpless and afraid, and I know that all things are possible in His hands.