In Grade 8, my parents made the decision to move me to a Bible-based Christian School. All that really meant was that teachers were intentional about incorporating scripture and Jesus in to their classes, even if it meant a quick 5 minute devotional before they began the content prepared for that class. The school really encouraged getting to know Jesus for yourself.
In my grade 12 year, as part of Life Orientation, the school incorporated weekly memory verses that would form part of a reflective style test at the end of the week. So my parents took it upon themselves to have us recite those verses every morning on our way to school. One of the weeks, we had to recite II Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” And eventually, we replaced ‘us’ with ‘me’ so that it became a declaration over ourselves. To be very honest with you, like several other verses, I could always recite it but it never really sunk in. It was just pretty, inspirational words on a page.
When I started couselling in Sydney, my couselor reminded me of that verse again. This time around, I was declaring it with the knowledge of God and the truth that is His word. But still not out of a personal revelation of what that scripture meant to me. What the Holy Spirit was intending to say to my heart through it.
On the Sunday the 24th of November, I had come to a place where holding onto hope seemed like quite the exhausting exercise. I had cried myself to sleep way too often. I’d had more anxiety attacks than I had had in my 22 years of life. I had purged more meals than I was able to keep down. Had begged Jesus for healing. Had prayed and prophesied over myself. And still, nothing felt like it was changing. I was incredibly lonely. I was sad. I felt trapped. And I had just gotten to a point where I just wanted it all to end. And if Jesus wasn’t going to make that happen, I would.
That evening, I arrived back from Church, went straight to bed ‘because I was really tired’ and waited till everyone was fast asleep. It was the day that I would finally sneak into my friend’s room and take the entire bottle of Ibuprofen I had been eyeing for weeks prior. And If I got caught, I would feign a headache and say I didn’t want to wake her by asking. Which I knew would somewhat work as an excuse because as part of my safety measures, I was not allowed to keep my own medication. I remember breaking down as I got into bed saying to God “I can’t believe you’re just going to leave me like this.” But, everything was planned out. No one needed to know anything. Especially my counselor, with whom I had an appointment that Monday morning. I had done my research. And I was going to put an end to the heartache.
When I woke up the next morning, I was incredibly disappointed that I had fallen asleep. I remember even blaming God that I had fallen asleep. That it was His fault that I would have to endure another day. And worst of all, I had to now go to my session to keep up appearances. At the session, I let information slip. It wasn’t the first time I had mentioned being sad about not having died, so I knew I had to come clean because she wouldn’t believe my lie anyway. Just a few weeks ago, I had almost been hit by a car. I don’t remember seeing or hearing it. I don’t even remember crossing the road to be honest. And when my counselor asked how I felt about the incident that week, before I could think, I blurted out the words “I wish it had hit me.” So a few minutes after recalling the plans I had for the night before, the College pastoral oversight was called into the room and it was decided that I would suspend my studies until I was ready and able to continue. I can’t begin to explain what it felt like being in that room once he left. I was incredibly defeated. I felt completely winded. Something that was supposed to end last night, now had even more disappointment and heartache added to it. How could God continue to just watch all of this unfold?
At the beginning of this year, God reminded me of the song Defender. Specifically the lyrics;
“All I did was praise
All I did was worship
All did was bow down
I’m just going to stay still”
He told me to remember Him as my defender; a mighty fortress that would protect me. To remember hat nothing was expected of me except to be found in His presence. And that all I needed to do was call on His name in worship. Especially on the harder days. Man! Some days I would have the strength to sing the words. Other days, all I could muster was a heavy “Jesus” between cries. But I vowed that I would fight to hold on even when I couldn’t find any tangible reason to.
Two weeks ago, I was reminded of II Timothy 1:7 again. And I couldn’t shake off the word “power.” The Greek origin of the word is ‘dunamis‘ (δύναμις) which speaks to a miraculous power, might or strength. While reading the Greek, the Holy Spirit reminded me that it had been over 8 months since that night and I’m still here.
I’m still fighting.
For so long, I had been very discouraged thinking that I wasn’t living as someone who had “power.” I thought I was still waiting for it, when in fact, I had been living in it all along. But it wasn’t the loud and evident kind of power. It was a “when I am weak, I am strong” kind of power. The kind of power that only makes sense in Jesus.
I can’t even begin to put into words the kind of fight it has been. Every day. To remind myself that I am loved. That I am called. That I am worth another breath. To remind my heart to keep singing through it. But even when I don’t remember how to fight anymore, to remember to call on His name. Even if it’s barely audible. Even if it feels like it won’t change anything. And more often than not, when I do, it feels like He lays right next to me and lets me come undone in His arms.
“This song rises from the depths of me
Where all is Yours and no one sees
They said I was deeply lost; I’m deeply found
I’m deeply found, deeply found
And fully loved, fully known
You called to me
You called my name before I even knew Yours
Before I knew Yours
What a beautiful name it is;
– Hillsong Worship