So I thought I'd share a testimony with you guys... it's not my testimony of how I came to Christ, but it is a testimony of how God has worked in my life, and so I thought I'd share it.So, when I was little, I was legalistic. I'd do things just because my parents, especially my dad, who I really looked up to [and still do], did it. I'd believe things because my dad believed them. I was pretty strict, too... just with little things, I'd judge people because they did something that I thought was wrong. Or they believed something that I didn't; or they didn't believe something that I did. Anyone who didn't believe like I did I judged. I realize now how so wrong and hypocritical I was, but at the time, I was so blind to it.
As I got older, I wanted so badly to make a difference for Christ. I wanted to obey God in everything. Everyone around me saw Christ in me, because I was just so on fire for Him. I was strong-willed and very set in my ways. There was no turning back for me. If I did something, I did it full force... with everything I had.
And so I began reading devotions everyday and having my own quiet time with God. I got so many devotions through email that I read every day. I read and wrote a chapter of the Bible every day. I started a Bible Study with my friends' help. I tried starting a Bible Study online. I went to church every week. I went to youth group every week as well. I'd talk to my friends about Christ a lot. I'd only listen to Christian music, and I listened to it a lot. God was pulling me out of my comfort zone in different areas, and I followed Him.
Eventually, I just got burned out. Everything I was doing became stale to me. I didn't get any joy out of reading the Bible anymore. I didn't get any joy out of talking to God anymore. I didn't get any joy out of talking about God anymore. I didn't get any joy out of Bible Study, out of church, or out of youth group anymore. I didn't get any joy out of devotions, and to put it bluntly, I didn't want to do them, I didn't want to pray, I didn't want to read the Bible. I was burned out and dehydrated. I also became depressed. Yet I put on a fake "mask" and became someone that I really wasn't. Everyone around me thought that I was strong, that I had it altogether. Some even thought I was perfect! If they only knew the hypocrite I was being... the fake person I had become.
I didn't know who I was anymore. I felt like joy had just left me. My heart ached. I was depressed. I was so distant - I didn't feel like doing anything, because I didn't get joy out of anything. And the entire time I felt guilty - so guilty - because I wasn't doing anything for God. I knew that I was wrong, but I felt so stuck. I would get defensive over little things. I would get angry over stupid things. There was so much built up inside of me that I needed to get out, but I didn't know how. I didn't know who to talk to. I didn't even understand my own situation, so why would anyone else? Friends came and talked to me about their problems, yet I couldn't go to them about mine because I had put out this front that I was 'perfect, a good Christian girl, put together' and I really wasn't. I felt like such a total failure.
I couldn't take it anymore. I talked to my mom and just told her everything that I could, but I didn't quite understand myself or my situation, so I didn't know how to tell her. I felt like I had nothing at all figured out in life. I couldn't make any decisions, and at the time, I had to make a lot. I was so frustrated, depressed, and just down on life... and yet no one knew. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know who I was supposed to be. I didn't know who I was meant to be. I didn't know who God wanted me to be... I didn't even know how to live because even though I knew the difference between right and wrong, it was like I had become blind to it. I didn't understand what was going on in my heart, but it was definitely something and I didn't know how to deal with it. I had no joy at all.
Just the other day I was faced with another hard decision. I didn't know what to do and so I decided to go to my parents with it. They didn't offer much help at first, just told me to do what I felt I should. Well that didn't help! I finally just spilled everything... I cried and told them how I've been feeling. Some of it didn't come out right because I was confused, but I got it out. And my heart felt so light afterwards. They helped me to realize that I had been doing too much spiritually and that I had become burned out. I needed a change. And so I decided to take their advice and took a few steps to get my life back together...
This next couple of days I'm going to try to get creative and do different things with God. Take walks with Him, maybe. Instead of having a routine with Him, I want a relationship again. Instead of feeling like I have to read a certain passage of Scripture because that's what my devotion is about, I'll read what I feel led to read.
Good works will not get me to Heaven. I used to "preach" that to people, and now look at me. I am a hypocrite. Good works follow Salvation. And even though I got saved at 4 and had a very close relationship with God, I began to put good works before my relationship with God. And eventually I became burned out and depressed.
I realize now that true joy comes from having a relationship with God. The rest will follow. I'll also get joy from doing things for God. When I am dead center in the middle of God's will for my life, I will find personal fulfillment.I think I've finally found joy. And it's not a feeling. It's a way of the heart. And it is so totally different from temporary happiness.
I praise God that He revealed all this to me before I went through the rest of my life only existing and not truly living.