For a really long time, I wondered why God wasn’t speaking to me in my dreams, wasn’t sending down some angels to talk to me, wasn’t really communicating with me as it seemed he was to everyone else. People were telling me their testimonies, which always seemed to include some big turning point in their lives when they decided to turn around and follow Jesus. But me, little old me, seemed to be stuck behind a spiritual concrete wall that God was on the other side of.
I thought there was some set way that God communicated with us. And for me? It wasn’t happening. As a matter of fact, I didn’t feel like it was happening in any way.
Until it did. Not how I had expected, of course, but even better.
Some background info: I struggle with anxiety and depression, which can make doing things a bit harder. Talking to people of authority intimidates me, and anything out of my normal routine stresses me out for days.
I’m majoring in Psychology, and I’ve wanted to add a minor for a while. The other day, I decided I was going to. I knew I’d be nervous and overwhelmed, but I decided it was time. I told myself I’d go the next day, and when the morning came, I was swaying back and forth between “Yup, today’s the day. I’m gonna do it! If I don’t do it today, I know I won’t do it another day. Just rip off the bandaid.” and “Stay home, Ashley. You don’t need to go to class. You don’t need to add the minor. Just do it another day.”
But, I know how this works. I know how I respond to avoiding things. My psychiatrist told me that avoidance breeds more anxiety, and I knew I’d be so proud of myself if I just went for it. So, I did.
I asked for the form, I went to the advisor of the minor and got it signed, and took it back to the office. I did what I needed to do, and more importantly, I did what I WANTED to do. Something inside me was saying, You did it. You fought off the lies that you couldn’t do it. You did it and you have what it takes. I’m proud of you. I am so, so proud of you. Now, I operate widely off the approval of others, so often times I don’t feel “good” about most of the things that I do, even if I know that I should, but that night I felt good. I felt strong and embraced. And with no doubt, I knew it was God. I knew it.
There’s this idea or pressure that can make you feel like you’re not equal to others because you’re not having the same experiences with God as they are. This comparison that tells you that you’re not as good of a follower of Christ because you don’t read the Bible as much as others, you don’t go to church as much as others, etc. But you’re not others. You’re you, and God’s going to reach out to you in a way that works best. Sometimes, it takes listening. It takes looking for. Sometimes it’s put in your thoughts. It’s different for each person, so don’t ever think that because you’ve had a different experience or aren’t feeling God the way that others are, that you are less, that you are not as loved, as chosen, as important. Sometimes it takes just being still for a little while. It’ll come exactly when you need it.
words by Ashley Jesus and photo by Ivy Hansen