Amy Junus is a third year Psycho-Biology major who hopes to pursue a career in nursing! While nothing brings her more joy than reveling in the evidences of God’s grace revealed new every day, she loves listening to classical music, washing dishes, having long conversations, messing around on the violin, learning random animal facts, laughing at anti-jokes, writing ridiculously long sentences, and using exclamation points!!!
I grew up in a loving home with grandparents and parents who were graciously saved by God and who desired for my soul to worship alongside them as a fellow believer. They brought me to church at a very young age, but I stopped going around the time I started middle school. I did everything I could to make it impossible for them to take me to church so that I could invest in three things: academics, music, and relationships. I spent all my time building up an image for myself as the “perfect student” and “perfect musician” and overall “perfect girl”. I did well in school and fought for and received honors. I excelled in music and joined an orchestra at a young age. In that orchestra, that I met an older boy who I was convinced I wanted to be with, so when he asked me out, I disobeyed my parents, kept it a secret, and said yes. I really thought I had it all, and even though I was in such blatant disobedience to the Lord in holding onto those idols, I really truly believed I was saved because I prayed sometimes, and I was receiving all this joy and success that I thought the Lord was giving to me because I was proving to do something right.
Then in a moment I lost everything that I had idolized and let define me: no relationship success, no musical recognition, and no school accolades. In this time, I got to know despair up close and personal. Depression, insomnia, and self-harm tempted me, and I allowed it to consume my life. My “faith” that was never real was quickly choked out by the trials of the world.
As I fell deeper and deeper into despair, I truly thought that if I died no one loved me enough to care. I believed that I was completely broken and no one had enough power to heal me. However, but the grace of God, I was blessed to have people surrounding me who cared more about my spiritual health than anything else. I was blessed to be surrounded by the church. My teachers at my Christian high school were praying for me. My parents were praying for me. My best friends were praying for me. They didn’t feed me the lies that “everything would always turn out to be okay”, but rather they told me that God, whether I believed it or not, loves me and wants me to love Him. They told me time and time again that God knows what he is doing, and it is good, even if it makes no sense to me.
The Lord, using the prayers of those who loved Him and the truth of His word, by grace alone took me from a place where I hated myself to a place where now I can sing of his faithfulness and his love. I had hit my lowest point where God had to strip everything away from me so that I could see that there is no one who is righteous, no not one as it says in Romans 3:10. It was there in that hopeless state with only a solemn recognition of my sinfulness that God, and God alone, gave me hope. If I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, God graciously saves and I can rest in peace and joy in the presence of the Lord forever (Romans 10:8-10). Even in the state of being dead in my sins where I could do nothing to save myself, the Lord had mercy on me and saved me to be alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Since my salvation, the sins of despair and anxiety and the trials they bring still arise and they still hurt, but the truth that I hold dear and close to my heart is different. I used to listen to the lies that told me that there is no hope for me and my life is what I make of it so when I fail it’s because I just wasn’t good enough. But Philippians 4:8-9 tells us to think about things that are true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and commendable and excellent and worthy of praise. This is the truth that is all of those things and puts the lies I tell myself to shame:
I was and still am a sinner and all my disobedience is more than enough to justify an eternity in hell (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). But a good and just God took that punishment, took my punishment and condemnation, and placed it on his son Jesus Christ whom he loved. The same perfect and holy God took Christ’s righteousness and placed it upon me (Romans 3:24), so that in the faith He gave to me I can say that my sins and my struggles used to define me, but they do not define me now. I am now defined by God as being in Christ, living in union with Him (Galatians 2:20). Even though I know that my depression and anxiety continues to tempt me to feel as if there is no hope, I know there is hope hidden in Christ alone. Feelings come and go, but this truth, it never fades. It can and does bring me to a point where I can do nothing but praise and count every single thing as joy (James 1:2) – all the trials, all the hurt – because I still have an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance as a child of God (1 Peter 1:3-6).