I’m barely recognizable from the person I was when I was in high school.
I mean. More so than the fact that my hair changed and I pierced my nose and I got mono for eight months or whatever (That’s still happening, by the way.). When I was a lower classman, I was the classic good girl. The A Walk to Remember girl. Except with a worse haircut and without a terminal disease. I was the girl who always won “Never Have I Ever”. I was the girl who people went well out of their way to pick on because I was so cluelessly innocent. I had panic attacks when people cussed. I would have to leave class and pace in the hallways when someone made an inappropriate joke. I was the girl who guys would talk about and systematically sexually harass because of how noticeably uncomfortable it made me. I looked down on everyone as if I was inherently more pure. Never have I ever drank. Never have I ever kissed a boy. Never have I ever smoked. Never have I ever cursed God’s name. Never have I ever skipped class. Never have I ever sinned.
Of course, my prideful attitude was just as bad, if not worse, than these outward manifestations.
And, of course, my prideful attitude was what eventually led to a really long and unexpected side track from where I need to be going.
There was no one more “innocent” than me in high school. I was the one who was asked to pray at every event. I was the one who led the Bible studies. I was the one who went on summer-long mission trips, and talked about Jesus to everyone, and wrote very long encouraging letters about following Christ to people I cared about, and had Bible verses written on very poorly designed notebooks, and read my Bible in school, and came up with sermons for people, and one time literally preached the Gospel to my History class for thirty five minutes USING A SLIDESHOW. (I actually don’t want to talk about that one.)
But it amounted to nothing, as it would seem. Because I believed so strongly in my good nature and my innate purity that I thought I was immune to sin. I mean, I struggled a lot, even during that time. But all of my sin was internal, mostly centered around anxiety and fear and demonic oppression. I didn’t have time to worry about the lusts of the flesh or the lusts of the eye. I got asked very often if I ever had wanted to experiment through high school. With weed or alcohol or whatever. And I always said, “No. I have no desire at all. Jesus makes me happy. I am fulfilled in Him.”
I was very rooted in my identity as a Child of God. Unfortunately, in my “purity”, I somehow lost sight of who I was without Christ. I forgot just how easy it was to stumble. So I let my guard down gradually, even as I was still passionate about Christ, still fervently seeking Him. But somewhere in the mix, I started to find my identity in my own righteousness. I mean. I could recite scripture. I prayed continually. I worshiped everyday. I was good.
I’m still unsure of what happened. I realized somewhere in this that when people don’t have purpose, they seek pleasure. When we are not constructive, we are destructive. So, feeling secure in my purity and secure in how good of a person I was, I allowed myself to get distracted with the busyness of life. I mean, everything I was doing, I was doing for Christ. How could I go wrong? And I was grounded. I was good. I was established.
Fast forward to 19, and I have checked off every single thing on my list that I never dreamed I would do. And I’m a hollow shell with no purpose and no drive. I’ve forgotten the scriptures I once had written in my heart. I’ve turned into an angry, bitter, resentful person I don’t even recognize anymore. I shut people out because I don’t deserve them. Every second is spent trying to keep myself occupied, so that I can forget why I feel so empty. I stopped praying and stopped reading my Bible, because when I try to, all I hear is, “God hears the prayers of the righteous.”
I subconsciously decide, “I am not good. Therefore God must not hear me.” And I constantly run in shame. I look away when I hear His name. I’ve closed all the doors I used to meet Him most at. I’ve stopped seeing visions, I’ve stopped feeling His arms embracing me. I just run, and that is all I feel I know of Him anymore.
But why would I expect anything different? This is exactly, play for play, how the fall of man came.
In the Garden of Eden (Look at me! Knowing Biblical references still!), when the serpent tempted Eve, he told her that she would become “like God” if she ate of the forbidden fruit.
Ultimately, she had a pure motive. She wanted to be like God. That is a holy pursuit; a God-given desire. But she believed that she could do this by going against His commands. She believed she could removed Him from the process and still arrive at the same destination.
But when she fell for the deceit, she knew she went about it the wrong way. She was full of shame. She ran from God and tried to cover herself from Him.
Here is my warning. You may have all of the best intentions in the world. But you absolutely cannot do it without Him. You can’t. Please don’t try standing on your own. Do not pridefully rely on your own strength. You will fall, regardless of how strong you once were in Him, regardless of how intimate your relationship with Him was.
I was never “good”. I was only made righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus. And without Him, I have no righteousness.