By Andrea Chong, NUS Catholic Students’ Society
Imagine walking on a tightrope while being distracted by a million different things. That was essentially my life before meeting Jesus. Life lacked meaning and the many attractive things of this world caught my eye, causing me to wobble and lose my balance. While trying to have it all and be the “it girl” that everyone talked about, I lost myself. The constant desire to be better than everyone else around me created a fiery self-hatred in my heart. No matter what I did, how well I performed at school, how many likes and comments I got on Instagram, nothing ever made me feel like I was enough. There was always someone better, and I hated that I couldn’t be them. And so I developed a crippling insecurity which destroyed me from the inside out, attacking especially my friendships and body image. I was jealous of friends who seemed to be loved by everyone, who could effortlessly connect with people. I was jealous of girls whom my friends complimented, my insecurity blinding the beauty that each had. I hated my appearance, often looking in the mirror and pointing out everything I wished I could change, or just staring at myself and breaking down because I hated what I saw.
However, despite these struggles, I desired a deeper relationship with Jesus. I wondered how people who followed Jesus seemed to have it together all the time. Why was it that whenever I tried to talk to God, it always seemed like a one-way conversation and that He wasn’t really listening? Equipped with a simple desire to have a relationship with God and understand the religion I had been brought up in, I signed up for the School of Witness. Going into SOW2020, I had many fears and worries, with the greatest one being that after 8 weeks of the School, I’d come out the same person I was, with no real relationship with Christ and no changes in my heart.
But Jesus had other plans for me. Although I didn’t even realise that my own insecurity was a barrier to knowing God, this theme of insecurity came up several times during prayers. During the very first praise and worship session of the school, a staff of the school praying over me said “Princess, that is what God sees you as”. This word shook me to the core. Never had I ever considered that I, such an imperfect, barely beautiful, un-skinny girl was a princess to God. That he created me so beautiful, but I kept looking to others to validate my beauty. The second time this happened, a sister prayed for my confidence and that I’d be able to see my worth in God’s eyes. Both times, I hadn’t told the prayer teams about my struggle with insecurity, so I know that the Holy Spirit was working within them, stirring their hearts to call out this self-hatred in me. Truly, what God reveals, He heals.
During the inner healing week, I was able to surrender this crippling insecurity to Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament. During this time, there was a sudden intense burning sensation in my chest and I knew that Jesus had taken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh that is able to trust Him, draws confidence from its creator alone, and sees the beauty Jesus sees in me. I began to claim my worth in Jesus Christ and realised none of these outward appearances mattered if I don’t have a heart for God.
Even though the healing of these lies that have lived in my head for so many years will be a work in progress for years to come, knowing God has allowed me to confidently claim the truth that I am a beautifully and uniquely made precious child of His, and that nothing I do could ever make Him love me more or less. Knowing Jesus has allowed me to see that there is no greater joy in life than living a life in Christ and sharing Him with others. No fleeting happiness of being complimented on my outward appearance could ever compare to the enduring joy that comes with knowing that I am fully known and fully loved by our good, good Father.
Recognising that I am a precious creation of God’s has also allowed me to see the beauty in others, and thus build genuine friendships which help me to appreciate my friends for the gifts, beauty, and talents they have instead of being envious of them.
Although life after encountering Jesus has not been completely smooth sailing, I am now reminded to fix my eyes on Him whenever things begin to distract me on this tightrope of life. I now know that those who follow Jesus don’t always have it all together, but they have a stronghold, Jesus Christ, even in the strongest of winds. Despite the mountains and valleys and all that will come in between, I know I will always have Jesus walking right beside me. Walking the tightrope isn’t as scary when I take it one day at a time, hand in hand with my saviour. Jesus has resurrected me from being dead in self-loathe and darkness to a life of walking in the light. Will you invite Him into your heart and allow Him to do the same for you?