I HATE YOU. I hate you. With tears rolling down my cheeks, these are the words I would mutter at my reflection in the mirror. I used to hate everything about me: my personality, my performance, my appearance.
I vividly remember the exact moment I realized I hated my body. I was on the beach with my family, and I didn’t feel comfortable in a swim suit. I was only nine years old. As I got older, my contempt for myself continued to grow. I used to feel so empty. I grew up going to church. I went every single Sunday with my family for as far back as I can remember. I heard stories about God and thought I had an idea of who He is. I thought as long as I was a pretty good person and tried to do what is right, God would love me.
In eighth grade, I began channeling my dislike for myself by physically harming my body, and I started cutting. I suffered from suicidal thoughts and wondered what the world would be like if I wasn’t a part of it anymore. I went to school with a smile on my face and interacted with my friends, constantly functioning in a state of false happiness. My feelings of depression continued until a good friend of mine committed suicide. It was a wakeup call for me to witness the suffering of the people she left behind.
In college, my struggles were amplified. I fell into the temptation of drinking, drugs, and impurity. I searched for fulfillment and found temporary satisfaction in these things. When the satisfaction wore off, I would be left feeling empty all over again. That didn’t stop me from trying to please the people around me. I thought if I joined in what they were doing, maybe they would accept me; maybe they would care; maybe I would be loved… Maybe I would be enough. My doubts about my worthiness affected all of the relationships in my life. Although I wanted to be cared for by others, I thought if I let them in, if they truly knew my heart, I wouldn’t be enough for them. I thought God hated me. I was convinced He was angry with me for all the ways I was disobeying Him.
My junior year, I thought my life was starting to come together. I was in what I thought was a great relationship, I had a loyal, energetic and caring best friend, and I had my career path set in place. Out of these things, I constructed a mask that resembled happiness. As the year progressed, my friendship began to disintegrate because of my neglect of it and my anxiety. My job security that I had so carefully planned out fell through. My once-ideal relationship had gone from one extreme to the complete opposite. Someone who once claimed to love me ended up physically abusing me and leaving me emotionally scarred. I was so damaged and drained that I believed I was no longer capable of loving others. I stopped even pretending to be happy. My heart was hardened. I shut myself off from God and the world.
I grew up thinking I had to be a certain way or get to a certain point for someone to love me. At the beginning of my senior year, at a retreat for Cru, I learned that God loves me exactly the way I am. He loves me in the midst of my brokenness, my anxiety, my imperfection. I was shocked to learn this. I was broken down to a place I had nowhere left to turn but to God. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God doesn’t get angry with us. He loves us even when we feel we are doing wrong. That’s when I felt it for the first time in my life: pure JOY.
Not only does He love me, but He wants to know me and have a relationship with me. I am not perfect. I never will be, and that’s okay because God IS. God continued to pursue me and cling on to me even when I wasn’t clinging to Him or even looking for Him. I no longer need to fake happiness; the happiness that I feel is REAL.
I still face struggles all the time, but I know in my heart that my God loves me now and will forever, and nothing I do will change that. I used to feel ashamed by my struggles. I felt that because of them, I wasn’t good enough. Now I am reminded that my trials make Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that much more beautiful.
Fraternity Brother Dalton Hook entered university thinking he it was about partying and studying. He never expected to find God there, and pray and receive Christ in May of 2011 at Greek Summit, a summer trip for Greek Students involved with Cru.
If you’re leading a team then you know you that this is crunch time. There are a few precious weeks with these people who have been entrusted to your care before your staff peel off to focus on MPD and prepare for their summer assignments. You can help your team end well by reminding them that they are not lone rangers. You can lead a discussion on what it means to be a TEAM.
There is tremendous comfort in the knowledge that we are "seated" with Christ. You have a seat at the table with Jesus. You are seated with Him right now. You are at the Greatest Table with the Greatest King.
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