Testimony Tuesday // Pippa
Updated: May 13, 2020
Like most people, I’ve always struggled with being influenced by the outside world and by other people’s opinion of me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been “the shy one” or “the one who likes maths”. I never had a problem with any of these labels. I didn’t mind people thinking those things about me, in fact I quite liked people thinking that I was smart. Being good in school was something I was proud about. But, at some point, these labels became expectations. And these expectations, that I started putting on myself, became a point of pressure. Don’t let them know that you are struggling. Don’t tell them that you can’t do this.
Expectations quickly spiralled into insecurity, not just about how I was doing at school, but about the way I looked and also about whether people genuinely liked me. It wasn’t just coming from the outside anymore. It came from the lies that I was telling myself. No one will love you. No one will care about you. You must be perfect. And perfection became the goal.
In my mind, all my friendships became competitions of who had the higher grades, who was prettier and who was funnier. And although on the outside maybe I seemed perfect, on the inside I felt miserable and alone. I had learnt to hide all my flaws and failures.
I didn’t really believe in God much anymore and being a Christian had gradually faded from my identity. I still went to church and my youth group, but this was just another place where I felt as though I had to be perfect. I was so caught up in my own pain and loneliness that I refused to believe that this supposedly loving God could love me. I wasn’t even good enough to be loved by my friends and family, so how could the Almighty Creator of the Universe ever love me or accept me with all my flaws and failures? Time and time again, I would find myself in church, holding back tears because I felt so worthless and unloved.
I ended up going to St Aldates a couple of times, mostly because my sister had started going there with my dad. It was here that I was met with an unfamiliar sight, a time of worship which was just full of unrestrained love and praise rising up. I had never in my life seen such a beautiful scene as watching those people meeting with Jesus, praising Him and experiencing His love. Over time, I began to relearn what I had always been taught, about the love of God and about the relationship that He is offering through His Son Jesus.
I knew in my heart that this relationship and this love was all I wanted. But I didn’t truly believe or experience this relationship and I still felt miserable and I was struggling. I didn’t feel loved and I started to tell myself that maybe this love wasn’t meant for me.
By some miracle, one of my friends was also a Christian and although we weren’t the closest, I went with her and her youth group to Soul Survivor that summer. Through the teaching and the worship and the time I spent with Jesus, I began to believe in His love. I began to understand just how much love was shown for me on the cross, where he died for me and for the forgiveness of my sins. This is His message of love:
'But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.'
- Romans 5:8
During a time of worship, I was also filled with the Holy Spirit and I was lying on the floor with my whole body shaking, completely overwhelmed by an outpouring of love flowing through me. In that moment everything I had been searching for came to rest in the arms of my Father.
After experiencing this love and placing my faith in the Resurrection, things started to change for me. I no longer felt as though I was under any obligation to appear perfect and the pressure that I used to feel wasn’t weighing me down anymore. Over time, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I have been learning to open up to people and to be vulnerable with them, being honest about when I make mistakes and when I do things wrong. At the same time, I’m learning how to love other people, as the bible teaches us, without conditions and without expectations. I am blessed enough to have found so many friends who accept me for who I am and who have always loved me and never expect anything more from me than this.
My problems haven’t magically gone away and I do still have days when I feel as though I am not good enough or when I feel as though God doesn’t love me. I know that my faith in Jesus is not based on my feelings but in the Truth, that God loves me enough to send his son, Jesus to die on a cross for me.
In Proverbs 3:5-6, it says:
'Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.'
This is one of my favourite parts of the bible to read when I am struggling. Things may not be easy, but this always reminds me that my identity is in Him. The point isn’t that being with Jesus will fix all my problems, but that I can take my burdens and my worries to Him in prayer and I can be guided by the Holy Spirit. Walking with Jesus is a journey and I know that as long as I fix my eyes on Him, I can grow deeper with Him. I love this encouragement from Hosea:
'Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.'
- Hosea 6:3
I love the promise that God will be faithful to me in my life to come, and that I can rely on Him and trust in Him.
Maybe for some people, I’m “the one who likes Maths”. But these labels don’t hold any true power over me anymore. Not because I don’t love maths, and not because I’ve given up doing well in school.
These things don’t define me. I am the one who is loved by Jesus, and the one who will be loved by Jesus, unconditionally.