Have you ever felt like the room is closing in on you? Have you ever been sitting in a class on introduction day, sweating at the thought of having to speak? Ridiculous, right??It was almost my turn to introduce myself. Three more people. Breathe. Two people. Heart pounding. One more. “Oh God, help me.” My turn. I could barely breathe and sweat ran down my back. I tried to fight the feeling, tried to not let my pounding heart sound in my voice.
It didn’t help. I couldn’t even introduce myself in front of a class without being terrified of what people thought. I felt like such a loser, such a failure. Why is this so hard? What is wrong with me? More importantly, how could God ever use someone like me??
This was the war with anxiety and fear that took place on the inside of me in almost every class that I took for five years at the University of Houston. I was consumed with fear of what other people thought of me, convinced of my lack of worth, convinced that if anyone really knew me they wouldn’t like what they found. I wandered from class to class, just getting through the days.
After graduating college in the Summer of 2010, I showed up for a Discipleship Training School (DTS) at YWAM Tyler in September, hoping it would be different than my college experience. On the very first day of orientation, our school leader, Keith, asked me to pray in front of the class. I shook. My voice shook. But the words managed to tumble out. A bit of hope sparked. That began a journey in which God began to peel back the layers in my heart and show me who He really is and what He really thinks of me.
Five weeks later I found myself voluntarily standing in front of my class sharing the deepest struggles, temptations, and addictions of my heart, being truly known. I kept looking at the class, expecting to see disappointment or anger at my shortcomings and my lack. Instead, as soon as I finished, half the room jumped up from their seats and group bear-hugged me in acceptance and joy at what God was doing in my heart!
I tasted the grace of God that day and something was healed deep on the inside of my heart. I discovered the truth that to be fully known, with all our flaws, failures, and shortcomings, and truly loved is the heart of God for every human being. That’s how God uses someone like me; He enables me to love others so radically, dramatically, and amazingly that they are shaken out of bondage and released into freedom so sweet; they can’t help but tell others about it.
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