Josephine is a fourth year psychology major who wants to seek a career in occupational therapy. During her free time, you can find her jamming out on her ukulele, seizing every opportunity to make a lame pun, and eating every kind of dessert!
Growing up, my brother was quite rebellious, he often got suspended from school and ran away from home. As a result, my parents constantly kept a close eye on him because they were worried about the mischievous behavior he would get himself into. My brother’s deviance left my mother feeling hopeless, resulting in a depression that lasted for about thirteen years during my childhood. I was aware of the difficulty my parents were going through, so I did my best to be the face of my family. I obeyed everything asked of me and tried to be as easy to take care of as possible. However, though it seemed I was an ideal daughter on the outside, I constantly held pity parties for myself and played the victim card on my situation. What did I do to deserve him as my brother? Why does my mom have a chronic mental illness preventing her from functioning like a normal human being? Why is my family so broken? These were the types of questions that filled my thoughts, leaving me and my heart blinded and ungrateful.
Despite growing up in the church, I was bitter at the Lord from a young age and held a negative view of the church. It seemed as though my family would put up a facade every Sunday morning, but then go straight back into being argumentative and unhappy right when we entered our garage door. This led me to generalize all Christians as fake and hypocritical, although I didn’t realize that the only reason I had these views was because they mirrored my own hypocrisy. I was arrogant towards those around me and the things I heard in church momentarily nudged my heart, but left my mind right when I exited the church. I constantly picked at the speck in other believers’ and my family’s eyes, not realizing the giant log in my own (Matthew 7:5, Luke 6:42).
At age 12, I went on various retreats and church conferences. During these events, I would get spiritual highs and my “faith” would be dependent on subjective feelings rather than objective truth. My faith continued to be an emotional rollercoaster, relying on my fleeting emotions and life circumstances to reassure me that God loved me and that I was saved. Out of social pressures, I got baptized around this time, not truly understanding the weight of my sin and the sacrifice that Christ paid in His death and resurrection, paying the penalty that I deserved. I proclaimed faith in Jesus Christ because I wanted Him to give me everything I wanted in life, not because I was aware of my own sin and my desperate need of salvation. I was prideful and selfish. I became increasingly aware of what the world had to offer therefore I sought autonomy and rejected the gospel.
When I entered high school, the way I felt as a daughter paralleled with my attitude as a student. I felt that attention and love were things I needed to earn and my worth was completely dependent on man’s empty praise, grades and my outer appearance. As I started to make more friends and boost myself up in the social hierarchy, I started to feel like I had become somebody. My new self-identity was based on what mere man thought of me, something that was transient and fluctuating. The fuel I got from my social status quickly faded, and I was left again feeling depressed and confused. I became suicidal, not realizing that I was already dead in my own sin (Ephesians 2:1-2). However, each time I attempted to end my life, I was, by God’s grace, filled with terror over where I would end up.
During this time, my brother went off to a Christian college and his attitude took a full 180. He became a new person, practicing patience and having every intention to exalt Christ rather than himself. In reaching out to me, he apologized for the difficulties he had caused my family and explained to me the gospel truths that transformed his life. I knew that for my older brother to change, it truly had to have been because of a higher being (seriously, he was the worst, but so was I). For the first time, I realized that I was not miserable because of my family or life circumstances, but rather because of my total depravity (Titus 3:3). I used my family as an excuse and justification to my poor thoughts and actions. Slowly, I became increasingly aware that I could never save myself and that I needed to repent of my sins and turn to Jesus Christ.
I am not exactly sure when I was saved, but it was after my brother’s conversion that I really started to analyze the deity of Christ by searching the scriptures. Reading the Lord’s divine revelation brought me a joy that I had never experienced before and quenched the thirst that my idolatrous relationships and reputation were never able to provide. When I began to shift my desires to the Lord’s desires, righteousness through Christ followed and it brought me complete satisfaction (Matthew 5:6).
It was not overnight that I was able to completely forgive my brother, and I still continue to fall short of the Lord’s glory (Romans 3:23). However, unlike before, I am aware that legalism does not count as genuine faith and relying on my surface-level obedience to earn points with the Lord will never result in salvation. Even though I let go of the Lord’s hand so many times in ignorance and pride, He never let go of mine. I willingly chose sin and adopted my own human philosophy, but the Lord still showed me unconditional and ceaseless grace through His divine and amazing gospel.
The Cross is not a concept I will ever master. Although I continue developing a deeper understanding of it, I ironically also grow a deeper confusion. Why would the Father crush His son for MY iniquities? (Isaiah 53:5). How can the Lord see the depths of my wretched heart and still love me the same yesterday, today and forever? (Hebrews 13:8). Though these truths remain unfathomable to me, what I do understand is that He who promised is faithful, and I will hold on unswervingly to this hope (Hebrews 10:23). Indeed, He is so faithful and deserves all of the glory, victory and majesty (1 Chronicles 29:11).