My story begins with me and my testimony begins with my desire.
For as long as I can remember, I have only lived my life for one single purpose, to discover the meaning of my existence.
And so it was that at the age of 6 years old, I found my purpose in life in the pursuit of God.
God has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
He was my father, my confidant, and my friend.
Though many would say that I had nothing, I always felt that because I put him first, I had been given more than I could ever ask for.
So before I can begin to tell my story or share my testimony, I need to make clear that it both begins and ends with my relationship with God, because for all my life, he was and is everything to me.
My story begins in my freshman year of high school.
I was had always been quiet, polite, and focused so my school life had never been of any concern to me.
My teachers generally liked me, my grades were good so my mom never gave me any issues, and I didn’t stand out to any of my peers in a bad way.
My life was boring and easygoing, and for a while, that was enough for me.
But all that changed when I heard an announcement to join the school’s track team.
I had been told that I needed to be more well-rounded and that being a part of an athletic team would be a good way to accomplish that.
So, feeling I had nothing to lose, I signed up.
And things went well.
I made varsity that very same season and would go on to run for the cross country team and place 12th in the state final.
To make a long story short, I was a breakout success, and that felt good.’
I felt that I had finally earned the respect of my peers.
I felt that I had finally done something that would make the adults in my life proud of me.
I felt that I had finally found my calling in life.
Yet in spite of how I felt, it was not meant to be.
During the spring break of my junior year, I became very sick as a result of some bad food I ate.
For the rest of my break, and for a few days after I got back to school, my running was heavily affected.
However, I thought nothing of it believing it would pass in a week or so.
But I was wrong.
4 weeks passed and throughout all that time, my results were only getting worse.
Eventually, the patience that my coach and my had for my recovery wore thin and they started to demand answers.
We went to numerous doctors and sports physicians yet for some reason, all of them concluded that there was nothing wrong with me.
I knew this wasn’t the case and though I told them that there must be something wrong because of how I felt, no evidence of any type of injury or infirmity ever found.
I was confused.
More confused than I had ever been in my entire life.
“What was God doing?” I thought, “didn’t he want this for me?”.
For days I could only ask myself, “why is this happening?”.
I asked that question so often because I hoped to receive some kind of answer that could explain why my running career, which I had tirelessly invested everything I had in for past two years, was now vanishing before my very eyes.
Yet as I was searching for an answer, my mom and my coach had already found one.
They believed that after all that I had been through to come so far, I had simply given up.
And that’s where this story became painful for me, very painful.
I had always considered my sense of honor to be one of my most defining characteristics so when someone whom I respected or took guidance from gave their opinion of me, I always took their words to heart.
When the adults in my life told me how proud they were of me and for all that I had accomplished, I really took that personally, and their warm and kind words really made me happy.
So when those very same people told me how disappointed they were with me and accused me of being a quitter and a slacker, it was as though they were stabbing me with a knife or piercing my heart with needles.
The looks of disgust when I tried my hardest yet fell short, their act of accusing my every reason of my poor performance as just another excuse, their refusal to listen to my cries for help, it was all so painful.
I was hurting.
More than I had been in at any other time in my life, I was hurting, I was hurting so much.
Yet the saddest part of the whole thing was, I felt that God had abandoned me.
After all that I had been through, after everything that I had endured, after doing what he had to lead me to do, still, it only appeared as though he had left me to be torn apart by the very same people who had once loved and supported me.
There was no escape, at home and at school I was constantly reminded of my weakness, of my inadequacy, and of my failure.
Every day was just another day was just another day to be considered a disappointment.
Every day was just another hopeless attempt at recovery.
Every day was just another broken promise of the God that I gave up everything for.
Soon, I began to believe that I was no longer worthy of love, that if God himself had left me it only could have been because I had failed him somehow and in my failure, he just didn’t want me anymore.
I felt empty, I felt powerless, I felt I was a disgrace.
Eventually, I just wanted it all to stop.
I didn’t care how but I just wanted to run away and never come back.
I just wanted a release.
That’s when one night, I saw myself get out of bed and walk into an elevator that took me to the top floor of a tall building.
I felt a fast wind of the night breeze past me as I climbed on top of the safety rail and looked at the ground 40 stories below.
Some part of me was screaming at the realization of the amount of danger I was in but at the same time, most of me just didn’t care.
I couldn’t think about anything.
I couldn’t feel anything.
I could only think about how it would all soon be over and I wouldn’t have to be in pain ever again.
All the looks of disappointment, all of the painful attempts to recover, all of the feelings of emptiness and hopeless, soon it would all be over.
Then, with tears in my eyes, I took a step forward on the railing and fell from the building.
I remember closing my eyes as I felt the air around me pick up speed as I fell faster and faster.
I had never experienced anything like it before but it seemed fitting to be the last thing I ever felt.
Yet just before I was about to hit the pavement, something miraculous happened.
I woke up in my bed because that night had all been a part of a dream.
And though it’s taken me a few years to come to grips with this dream, I finally know how that dream really ended.
When I jumped off that building, Jesus jumped with me.
But he didn’t do it for the reason I did.
Rather, he jumped off after me because he wanted to save me.
He jumped after me because he wanted to save me from a life that only allowed me to find meaning and identity in the honor and respect that others gave me.
He jumped after me because he wanted to save me from spending my entire life worshipping the idols of achievement, self-reliance, and fear of failure.
He jumped after me because he wanted to save me from myself.
He jumped after me because he loved me, even when I couldn’t love myself.
That’s why when I woke up that morning, I decided that no matter how bad this circumstance was or hopeless it may have been, it would NEVER be worth my life.
God still had a plan for me, he still had a future for me, and no matter how hard things got, I decided that I would live to see it.
After that night, things got better, a lot better.
I stopped listening to the opinions of others if all they did was bring me down and I assured myself that as long as God still cared for me, I can find the strength to press on.
Soon, we found out that my weakness had been the result of a stomach virus I had contracted during my spring break and in that discovery, everyone finally believed me, and I finally started to have my old life back.
I got the treatment I needed, my relationships were restored, and my self-respect gradually came back to me.
And my life from that moment on only got better.
I got accepted to a good college, made good friends, and all the while, my relationship with God soared to new heights I couldn’t have imagined.
There are a lot of things I learned from this experience.
1. Families are much happier when they listen first and talk second.
2. Pride can be self-destructive.
3. Jesus would risk his life for me
4. Things really will do better with time
5. God really does use everything for his glory
Yet the most important thing that I have learned is that I really can depend on God for everything.
If not for my relationship with God, grief would have consumed me, and I wouldn’t be here right now.
Yet I’m glad for that because my life has been so amazing in the last few years and I’m certain that they can only get better as time goes on.
God put me through hell and back because he didn’t want me to find my identity in the world, he wanted me to find my identity in him.
And I can confidently saw that putting my identity in God is the best decision that I ever made, so much so that if it were necessary, I would redo all the hardship and all the suffering that I experienced during that time if it only meant I could get to the place I’m at with God right now.
God is worth it everybody.