At my bible study group last night, we discussed our testimonies and why it is important to share them. The bible says to be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have, which is your salvation in Jesus. This discussion made me want to update and re-write my testimony. I did, so I thought I'd share it with all of you. I know that I posted a testimony here almost 2 years ago, but honestly, I don't think I was truly saved at the time. I went back and read it recently, and it didn't even mention salvation. It only mentioned how I "got more into my religion". It didn't seem like a testimony of someone who was saved. So, I'm posting my real story of salvation. Also, I put the whole salvation message in there. I know that most of you here are already saved, but I wrote it because I'm using this everywhere, not just here...and you never know who is reading. Sorry about the long length too; please don't feel obligated to read it if you are busy. With that being said, here is my story:
I was raised Catholic, so I always believed that there was a god. I went to church and prayed, and I even called myself a Christian simply because I believed in the existence of a god and my whole family called themselves Christians- so I just figured thatís what I was. However, I didnít truly understand God or my need for a Savior (Jesus) to pay for my sins so that I could go to Heaven someday. My life definitely wasnít for God, nor did I know much of the truth about Him. I believed in the existence of some sort of god and heaven, and thatís about as far as it went.
From the age of twelve, I was making the wrong things important to me and searching for some sort of security. Performing was my life and I loved to travel for acting auditions. Acting was more important to me than anything else and I became obsessed. You can never be good enough when it comes to Hollywood, so I strived for perfection and worked myself to exhaustion, hoping to become the best. I craved the attention that I got from everyone around me when they found out that my weekend activities consisted of two hour round trips to acting classes, photo shoots, auditioning for agencies from around the world, or traveling back and forth to Los Angeles. My goal in life, and the one thing I knew that I wanted, was to be a famous actress. I was well on my way to achieving that goal.
All of the pressure that I put on myself led to me developing an eating disorder and believing that I needed to change my appearance because nobody could love me the way that I was. It started at twelve years old when I first heard about crash dieting and thought that I could use dieting to better myself. I began to replace my normal lunch with a bowl of low fat cereal. It started that innocently. From that, it slowly progressed to cutting out more and more things until eventually there were only a few foods that I would eat. On the rare days when I did eat normally, I felt ďdirtyĒ as those there was some kind of poison running through my body. I liked the feeling of starvation because it felt clean and pure, and that is where it progressed to stage 3 anorexia. By the time that I was 16 years old, my goal weight had gone down to 95 pounds. I was only eating a few select foods. I was running 5miles each day plus doing my normal stretching routine (over three hours of intense workout a day). I began to lose weight, feel and look sick, and have terrible mood swings. When I did eat real food, I would eat it with hot sauce to make it feel like the food was burning away. I lied about what I ate and hid my food in the trash can under piles of napkins. I remember I even stopped visiting my family members because I was afraid that they were going to offer me food.
Those things were my life and I relied on them to fulfill me. They were my stability. Iím not going to lie and say that my life before God was all sadness and gloom. There were times when these things did make me happy and made me feel important. There were times that I felt fulfilled and was happy with where I thought my life was going. There were times when I loved my life. What I didnít realize though, was that you shouldnít ever make something you stability if that thing could change. If something could change at any second, itís not really very stable at all. Fame, attention, friends, dating, and looking good may make us happy, but any of those things can leave us at any second and send our whole world crashing down. Plus, we canít take any of those things with us when we die.
Sure enough, before long, everything that I relied on was taken away from me. I had been homeschooled so that I had more time for acting, but in 10th grade I had to go back to public school because of problems with my school work. I was devastated, because this meant that I would no longer have time for auditioning or the Hollywood lifestyle that I lived for. I also wouldnít have time to go back and forth to auditions (where most of my friends were) very often. I felt depressed and started counting down the years until I graduated and could go back to what I considered my ďreal lifeĒ. I basically decided that my life was on hold and was meaningless for the next two years until I graduated. In my mind, my life was over, and in a way I was right. I now believe that this was Godís way of getting me out of that situation; getting me out of my old life so that I could see what He had for me.
In school, I grew close to a girl named Carly. We had been close friends since elementary school, but we had drifted apart when I started homeschooling. We had gym class together, and it was there that she started talking to me about God. She would tell me things that she had learned at church the night before and explain things such as the bible verse that was engraved onto her purity ring. Before long, she invited me to her churchís youth group. I donít think she thought that I would actually come, but I surprised her and I did. At first, I think I mainly went to make new friends and have another after school activity, but God had another idea.
From my first day at youth group, I adored the group and all of the people- so I kept going back. About a month after I started going to youth group, I went with them on a camping retreat. During that weekend retreat, we had bible messages, worship services, sled riding, snowball fights, and time to spend together in the main lodge. On the first night of the retreat, while everyone was in their cabins sleeping, there were four of us in my cabin who couldnít sleep. We got together on Carlyís bunk bed and had a bible study. Well, I had never really read the bible before coming to youth group and didnít know where to look, so I was mostly just listening to what the other girls were saying.
That night during the bible study, something was weighing heavily on my heart. I didnít quite understand what or why though. I believed in God, went to church, prayed, and had a seemingly good life. My parents had decided to let me go back to homeschooling, I was going to start acting again, and I had a whole youth group full of new friends; everything seemed to be falling into place. I didnít know of any reason why I should be upset. However, when I sat there listening to the bible study that night, I knew I was missing something. I didnít know what it was. The only way I knew to explain it was that the other girls had something that I didnít.
In the middle of my confusion, I suddenly remembered an old bible story that I hadnít heard since I was probably five years old. The story was Genesis 22, which is the story of Abraham and Isaac. In this story, God told a man named Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, by killing him. Without asking a single question, Abraham trusted God so much that he simply got prepared to do it! He didnít appear to think about himself or his own wants; he just did what God said. Then, right before he was about to sacrifice Isaac, God stopped him. God didnít really want Isaac to die; it was just a test to see if Abraham was really willing to give up everything for God- even his own son. This story got me thinking, and I wondered if I could give up something important for God. At first I wasnít sure, but then I realized that God wanted me to surrender to Him and let Him show me the truth about who He was, no matter what it would cost me.
I went to sleep that night crying because I didnít understand what was happening to me and I wasnít exactly willing to change my idea of who I always thought God was. I didnít want to let God change me. I was afraid that He was going to require me to do things that I didnít want to do and let go of things that I wanted to hold on to. Through tears and hesitance, I finally prayed and gave God permission to do whatever He needed to do with me and show me who He was.
At this point, I was desperate for answers. When I got home from the camping retreat that weekend, I got in contact with one of my Christian friends. I wanted to know what it even meant to be a Christian and what God wanted to show me. She explained it to me like this:
1. We all have sin in us. None of us can deny that we have sinned (done something wrong) at least once. In fact, most people sin every day. Sins include lying, disobeying your parents, using Godís name as a curse word, caring about other things more than you care about God, and several other things. Weíve all done at least one of these things before. God is perfect and canít have sin, so our sins separated from God. If we are separated from God, that would mean that we couldnít go to Heaven some day and be with Him! We would have to go to hell forever to take the punishment for our sins once our lives on Earth were over. We are all deserving of that punishment because of our sins.
2. God loves us more than we can imagine. He knows that we have all made mistakes and He loves us anyways! He doesnít want to let sin separate us. The punishment for our sins had to be paid for though. So, God sent His Son, Jesus, from Heaven to Earth. Jesus took all of our sins upon Himself and was willingly tortured and killed by being nailed to a wooden cross- to pay the debt for our sins for us. He was the only one powerful enough to do this because He was God and He was sinless. He took all of our sins with Him when He died, but He didnít stay dead. On the third day after His death, God raised Him from the dead to defeat sin. He eventually rose into Heaven.
3. If we want to not be separated from God any more, want to have our sins removed from us forever, want to not have to pay for our sins in hell when we die, and want to be with God forever, we can! We just have to believe that God really did this for us, confess that we are sinners and canít get to Heaven without having Jesus to save us, and repent. Repent is a word that means ďchange of mindĒ. In other words, changing your mind to realize that sin is bad and should be avoided, that you are a sinner who can only be saved from sin by Jesus, and that everything Godís word says is the truth. When you do this, your soul will be transformed. You may or may not feel different, but the sin will be gone and your soul will have new life in Jesus. Every single sin that youíve ever committed or ever will commit is gone forever- once and for all! You are Godís child and no longer separated from Him! Nothing that you will ever do can separate you from God ever again. Even if you mess up in the future, those sins are already gone too. Being saved from your sins is a onetime thing that lasts forever. It is also the start of your new relationship with God and life lived for Him.
I donít recall if I received Jesus as my Savior and was saved from my sins that same day or if it took a little while for me to fully understand, but when I did understand, I was shocked that I hadnít known sooner. I was shocked that even though I had always prayed, gone to church, and tried to be good, I had sin in me that had been separating me from God the whole time! Once I was saved, I realized that God was my stability. He is the only thing that will never change and never leave you. Yes other things will make you happy, but those things are only temporary. They canít last forever. We can go to God with anything for the rest of forever and He will always love us and be there to help us. The bible says that He will never leave you or forsake you. Also, even though our sins are gone, we still live in a world full of sin, and so we will still have troubles until we are in Heaven; but no matter how much our lives are changing, God is still the same. Thatís true stability.
Since Iíve been saved, everything has changed. My need for the acceptance of other people and the worldly desires that I lived for are gone. I know that even though those things can bring happiness, only God can bring true peace in knowing that Heíll always be there. He led me in another direction away from all of the things that I used to desire to the point where I donít even want those things any more. Instead, He gave me things that would bring me closer to Him (such as my youth group, new friends, new church, ministry opportunities, and much more). He showed me the importance of sharing what He did for me with others so they can be saved too. God now uses me to run the childrenís ministry at my church, write gospel messages about His amazing gift to us, act in the drama team at my church, and simply share my story with people who I meet. He has also gotten to use me to invite others to church the way that Carly did for me. I know that I am on this Earth to spread the good news and that God will use me to reach the lost.
Again, all of the glory goes to Him. I couldnít have done any of this by my own ability. I live to praise His name and I continue to grow in understanding of Him every day. My future is in His hands and I canít wait to see what He has in store.