Original Post: 16/09/2014
About this time last year God lead me to host a girls’ night at my high school and focus strongly on identity. My heart broke when I looked around me and within myself and saw the lack of identity or identity being determined by the wrong things. Tonight we had our girls’ night and I am sitting here blown away by how amazing God was and how much of a success the whole evening was! We called it GUCCI, Girls United in Christ-Centered Identity, and that is exactly what happened. By the end of the evening pockets of girls were getting together to talk about the real things that we face as girls and getting around one another to support each other while we all enjoyed the girly things in life while eating cupcakes and painting our nails. We really united as girls in Christ.
During the evening I shared my testimony with the group, the reason why I started this blog as a means to relieve my heart and so I thought it appropriate to share it on here too. So, if you are reading this please (if you know me) read it in my voice, but a very emotional voice and when you’re about half way down imagine that I’m almost crying. That way you can sit in the auditorium with me and enjoy girls’ night too.
Am I special? Am I good enough? Am I beautiful? Do people like me? Am I loved? Will I amount to anything? Is there even a point to me being here? These are just a few of the questions I began to ask myself as a junior high school student. Unfortunately, the answer I decided to most of these questions was no. No, I am not special, good enough, beautiful or loved. People do not like me, I will not amount to anything and there is no point in me being here.
This was all because I was looking for my acceptance and worth in all the wrong places. No, I was not a rebel nor did I venture off the rails; I was actually more behaved and sheltered than I am now. I was just looking to my friends and my sport for my identity. I am a people’s person, I am happiest when I am with a bunch of people having fun and therefore looked to social interactions for energy.
I am not going to go into complete detail but I’m quickly going to take you down memory lane and introduce you to the Petro of days gone by to help you see the full picture. As a toddler I was a very happy child, always running, smiling and laughing. I was however, very shy. Mum often tells me about how I used to cling onto her and hide behind her leg when we were in public and would never talk to people I did not know well.
This was my reality up until the age of eight, well I had given up clinging onto Mum but I was still otherwise the same. At around the age of eight I began to realise that the tactic that I had adopted to make friends, being loud, silly, sarcastic and rude to the boys, was not working for me. Sure, I was making plenty of friends, but even at that age I realised that I was losing myself; it just wasn’t me. As soon as I changed tactic though, I began having daily fights with my friends; which turned me into a really grumpy, rude person.
I spent most of the next three or four years on my own or floating between friends. I cried most afternoons and was always unhappy. It was around this time that I discovered that I was pretty alright at sports and began to gain recognition from my peers in that. I based my identity and happiness in sport, so I became super competitive and always compared myself to others. I met Christ at the end of year six and the bitterness in me began to fade. It took about two years for the change to fully set in and for my peers to begin recognising the change in me. I began to happen on the social scene and my netball began to take off big time; people wanted to know me and wanted to be my friend. This gave me such satisfaction and became an even more crucial part of who I was. I was not happy with myself unless I was successful and social.
I lived this shallow existence through Middle School but reality kicked in towards the end of year nine. Year nine and ten were hands down the worst time in my life. I lost four extended family members in quick succession, all very suddenly and unexpectedly. My friends all abandoned me and I lost all sense of confidence. I remember praying often as I lay in bed, “Jesus, I cannot do this anymore. Please, just don’t let me wake up in the morning.” I contemplated ideas such as self harm or anorexia because I needed to be able to control something in my life and viewed myself as overweight compared to the girls that I went to school with. I saw myself as worthless, unloved, and unwanted and a failure. I did not fit in anywhere and was stuck in a mild depression.
My saving grace was my family, my sport, and my Saviour. My parents picked up pretty quickly that I was not myself and they came alongside me to support me. Instead of food and pain being the things that I controlled in my life, my sport became that area of control. I played in such a way that I could control the game and the movement of my opponent. I turned to writing that year, I bought a notebook and began writing my emotions down in poems. It soon became pretty addictive and I wrote on anything I could my hands on, notebooks, napkins, worksheets, paper towels, receipts, folders, whiteboards, absolutely anything and everything. I am a greatly emotional person so being able to express my emotions in a sometimes exaggerated form but in a safe place helped me deal with the stress in my heart. My poems were mostly all very dark and sad until I began to turn to God. I realised that I did not want to die, I did not want to hurt myself or make myself sick because when it came down to it, I enjoyed being alive and being with my family. I started ending my poems with a prayer or statement of hope. Sometimes this hope was false but I wrote about how God was going to pull me out of this situation and restore me as a declaration. I knew in my heart that He would pull through and save me because I had felt Him change me four years previously.
Like my change in year six, my restoration from depression and looking to others for acceptance was not immediate, it took some time. I only really became comfortable in my own skin last year, but in the mean time I stopped looking to people and started looking to God. I developed somewhat of a “And what?” attitude towards people’s opinions. Although they still matter to me very much, I started realising that I cannot possibly please everyone and there will always be someone that I will disappoint and at this stage if it is not someone who I respect or look up to, I don’t really mind what they think of me. The old thing of, “Those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter” began to sink into my brain. I realised that wanting to change for others was pointless, I just lost myself in the process and trying to live up to the expectations of others just left me feeling empty, but God thought I was awesome – He chose to spend time with me 24/7 and call me friend. He made me the way I was and although He is constantly working in me to help me become more like Christ, when He made me He stepped back and saw that I was good. I was good enough for Him. I was special to him. I was beautiful to Him. I was loved by Him and therefore it didn’t matter if people liked me. I will amount to something because He gave me unique gifts and promises me a prosperous future. There is a point to me being here because He gave me a purpose to wake up in the mornings. And do you know what the best part about that is? It is the same for every one of you too; He loves and cares for you just the same.