Monday, October 24, 2011

My Testimony

Have I ever told you my testimony?

Well, sure, I know a testimony is made up of one's entire life, and I could argue that each post is a little bit of the bigger testimony that is my life... but I mean The Big One -- the one testimony that sums up why I am the way I am today, and how I came back to believing in my Lord as Savior of my life.

That one.
Have I shared it here?
I don't think I have yet, and it's sort of crazy that I haven't done so.  But recently I was reading Titus, and ran across this verse...

"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions... But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."
Titus 3:3-4

And I thought: "Yes.  That is me.  This is exactly me.  That is my testimony -- right there."

And then I continued reading...

"I want to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good."
Titus 3:8

And I thought, "You know, it's about time I shared my testimony on my blog."
So here it is.

I grew up in a Christian family.  Not the kind of Christian family that claims one thing and does another, but the type of Christian family that lives it.  I was surrounded by people (including my extended family) who knew the cost of following Christ, and yet persevered because of His Grace and Love.  It was an incredible way to grow up, and I do not take it for granted.

It's worth mentioning that I've always felt "claimed" by the Lord -- that somehow, deep inside me, I felt as though I were truly adopted into His family -- that no matter what I did or no matter how far I'd run -- God had me.  I was His.

Even though I knew this, I was also curious.  It wasn't enough to know that certain things were wrong -- I needed to try them out and see why they were wrong.  I'd always felt this way in general, but I started to branch out in my curiosity a little bit more as I grew disillusioned with the faith.  Going to a Christian college, I started to doubt that people really had faith.  Everything seemed so fluffy and perfect, and I didn't want a fluffy faith.  So I allowed myself to question (which, I think, can ultimately be a good thing) and became friends with non-Christians, because I felt they were more "real" than the Christians I knew.  I am still friends with these wonderful, lovely human beings and am thankful for our friendships. I guess the only problem was that, as a Christian, I had no support base -- no church, no Christian friends, no mentors.  I was on my own.

And so I ran.  Far and fast.  You know the parable of the prodigal son?  Well.  That was me.  Every time I read it, I can see myself as that son, asking his father to have his inheritance and leaving.  Again, I say: that was me.  Do you know the implications of that son asking for his inheritance?  He was disowning his father.  He wasn't supposed to see his inheritance until his father was dead.  So by asking for his inheritance, the son was saying, "Dad, you're dead to me."  And that's what I was saying to God.  I was basically saying, "I know You've blessed me in many areas, but I don't want You in my life.  I'm just going to take advantage of those blessings.  I'm going to claim them as my own, use them up, and not talk to You any more.  Because the world is more fun, I want to party, and You're sort of getting in the way of my conscience.  Also: I just don't get You.  You're dead to me."  And with that, I left.

As I lived my life the way I wanted, I always had this sense of God in the back of my mind.  I even claimed to be a Christian.  But there were two things going on that prevented me from making Christ LORD of my life:  1) I was honestly felt like I was having too much fun; and simultaneously, 2) I felt absolutely chained to what I was doing.  There were times when it wasn't fun -- when I felt devastated and broken -- but I wouldn't allow myself those feelings.  There were two years when I didn't cry at all (and, if you know me, I'm a cryer, so this was very bizarre).  But if I let myself look into the reality of the situation, I was a shell of a person.  Everything was an act.  Everything.  And as I was also an actress, this really got destructive and dangerous.  It got to the point where I didn't know who I was -- literally.  I couldn't tell if I was Rachel or whatever character I was playing at the time.  Reality and the stage got confused.  It was so, so scary.

There was a very dark point in the winter of 2007.  When I think back on that time, all I can see is darkness.  I remember being alone in my house (because my college roommates were home for the winter.  I was in graduate school at the time for acting.) and everything seemed dark.  I remember crawling up my stairs with barely any energy left inside me, the loneliness gnawing away at my soul.  I saw this picture of myself in my mind -- a person dangling on a string -- about to snap -- and about to go hurtling into a miry pit.  But I couldn't even pray because I had nothing left inside me.  I whimpered to the Lord -- inaudibly saying, "God, I need You to come get me.  I can't do it."

"Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God."
Psalm 69:1-3

The thing about my testimony is that I did nothing.  I did nothing to deserve being rescued.  I didn't try to do any new or right thing -- I didn't seek a church, I didn't start pouring myself in the Word, I didn't do anything.  All I did was cry out to my God -- admitting that I was helpless without Him -- that there was absolutely nothing I could do to save myself.  And I seriously needed saving.

That's the most miraculous thing to me about it all.  I cannot claim anything in my salvation.  It was all God.  All it took was an inaudible whimper -- an admittance -- an asking -- and that was that.  My life has never been the same since.  

And I have never looked back.

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