Christ, Who Strengthens Me

by Lauren Humphries

My name is Lauren and I am 19 years old this year. Growing up in a Christ-centred family and being active in church even after Confirmation, I’ve always thought that my relationship with God was pretty okay. I knew I wasn’t as convicted in Him as I wanted to be, but I was comfortable and settled for living off emotional highs from previous encounters. I often turned to God only in times of need, crediting myself when things went well but blaming Him when they didn’t. While I did often turned to His love and found His peace and joy through the gift of my family and friends, I also allowed my sense of self-worth to be determined by how well I fulfilled the world’s ideals of beauty and perfection. I lived under the influence of the lies I believed from my past relationships, often living on temporal highs which often plummeted into emptiness. 

I came into the school with a mental checklist of what I wanted God to do for me – because I still partly saw Him as a vending machine. Very quickly, I realised that living with one foot in the world and another in the Kingdom of God prevented me from truly living in His goodness, from being a daughter, sister and friend whom my loved ones deserved, and from truly living as child of God. The day before I entered the school,  a friend reminded me not to be afraid of whatever God revealed to me, but I dismissed it thinking, “I’ll be open, but I know His plan for me”.  This encapsulates my former attitude towards Christ. Remembering this, and my own failed attempts at finding lasting joy in the world and through others, I committed to desiring to be fully open to Him. 

Within the first week of SOW, I found God constantly challenging me to step out of the boxes I’d put myself in and the inner vows I had made to protect myself from the world. He helped me see how much more beautiful life was when I trusted in Him and followed Him, instead of struggling to get away. I continuously wrestled with God and tested Him, still trying to get Him to prove His Lordship over my life. His response proved just how much He know and loves me through various ways, including the verses I got from the truth basket and the messages and affirmations through the community. For one, He constantly reminded me of what is now my favourite verse from Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. This verse has been a significant part of my journey here in SOW, being empowered and motivated by the Lord when I cannot depend on my own strength and capabilities to get through wounds and challenges that come my way. I came to SOW wanting to heal my relationship with God after the anger I harboured against Him over a family member’s death and for my lack of self-worth and self-love, and He answered, giving me so much more than I asked for. 

Philippians 4:13

He also revealed to me that I wasn’t healed from a former friendship like I thought I was, and over the weeks, He moulded my heart and mind to find peace and comfort in Him. One night, we had a prayer ministry session, and it’s one I’ll never forget. I had gone into it very angry at God for bringing up this hurt from my former friendship so tangibly despite helping me through it the previous week. I resisted the spirit’s movement during prayer ministry, and convinced myself that the messages of my belovedness the prayer team spoke to me were purely lies; because how could God love me and see me as His princess yet bring up this old wound which hurt me time and time again? We were then invited to kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament if we desired the gift of tongues and I went up as a final test to God, to bless me with this gift if He truly loved me. Well, He didn’t, but as I knelt there, a prayer team member received a message that someone was hurting from a past friendship and in that moment I truly felt His love. I felt so seen and known, and the anger I had dissipated almost immediately, because I saw how the Lord was using my wounds to truly show me His strength and salvation in my life. I also came to realise through the session that He had always been working in and through me in multiple ways, but I was always ignorant to His Spirit, thinking they were my own thoughts and not His. 

His love is immense and insane and I want to continue to let His love pour out onto me and lead me in all I do. I want to be a light to others, and continue to grow in my own discipleship because I know my walk with Him is far from over. I’ve realised that in following Him, I find so much love and peace through Him and His people, and I fully intend to continue to seek Him as my healer, protector and bringer of peace, because no one else compares to Him by any measure. SOW is merely the start of a lifelong journey with Christ, and He’s just started to mould my heart into what He desires for me and I’m excited to see where else He’ll take me. 

My brothers and sisters, I have learnt that God’s plan is greater for me than the best plan that I can fathom for myself and God at His weakest is still immeasurably stronger than I am at my best. So, will you join me in relying on the Lord’s strength as He reaches His hands out to you to lead you into His wonderful love?