When I was growing up, I didn't think I was a very special person because I didn't like myself. Away from my family, I was shy and self-conscious and I cried at the least hint of conflict or disapproval from others. But at home, I was the bossy, disapproving older sister. I was often angry with my two younger brothers and was easily embarrassed by their behavior.
I seemed to be two different people. Away from home, I tried to be so nice and obliging and congenial; this soon earned me the nickname "Goody Two Shoes."
Since I didn't like these two extremes, my goal was to overcome these complexes in my life. I enjoyed being involved in many activities and desired to be a top student. So I stayed busy at school and away from home.
The more involved I became, the more I overcame my shyness and gained self-confidence. And was I ever involved! I seemed to be attending every school, church and civic event that was planned. Not only that, but I was helping to plan them as well. I especially liked cheerleading and singing in the school and church choirs.
Eventually, my health was affected by all the pressures and tensions of my busy schedule. At the age of 16, my doctor prescribed tranquilizers for me.
My mother tried to get me to slow down, but I wouldn't listen; I wanted to do everything. My biggest problems were that I didn't know how to organize and I didn't know how to set priorities.
A roller-coaster would best describe my life then. After an exciting event, I would become depressed. I thought these up and down times would only last through my teen-age years. But they continued into my adult years. I didn't seem to be getting any better at controlling my moods. My depression periods were becoming worse and lasting longer.
After my first year in college, I married my high school sweetheart, Rae Mellichamp. I continued my education over the next ten years and attended six different colleges and universities before earning my degree. During this time, we had the privilege of becoming parents twice; we had a son, Jonathan, and a daughter, Jennifer.
But by the time I was thirty, my depression was accompanied by a strong fear of death. Our family moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where my husband had accepted a position as a professor at the University of Alabama. But even with a future full of promise, thoughts of death consumed me. I also thought of suicide. I didn't know where to turn for answers because I didn't want anyone else to know that I was having problems.
My health was getting worse during this time. I developed arthritis and colon problems.
What was I going to do? To whom could I turn? For my entire life, I had been involved in church, so I knew that God was somehow the answer to all my problems. But how could I find Him?
I believed that God loved me and wanted me to have a relationship with Him, but because of sin in my life, I was separated from Him. Instead of earning His love with my actions, He reached down to me by sending His Son, Jesus, to die so that my sins would be forgiven. All I had to do was open the door of my heart and allow Jesus to come into my life.
All of my life in church I had been taught this, and when I was in elementary school, I had prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. But, because I didn't feel any different, I thought that God hadn't heard me or that there was something that I wasn't doing.
For years, I had asked Jesus to come into my life again and again. One day while I was getting acquainted with a new friend, I shared about my long search for God. She reminded me of how trustworthy God is and how, because of this, I could trust Him to keep His Word. God would never lie to me or mislead me. I had not understood that having faith in Jesus simply meant believing and trusting Him to come into my life as He said He would and to make me the person He wants me to be.
At long last, I had confidence that Jesus was truly in my life. I asked Him to take control of my messed-up life and to get me off the roller-coaster.
He began giving me insights into my problems as I read and studied the Bible and took notes on what I was learning. Jesus helped me to see that I was selfish and self-centered and that I really didn't like myself.
He gave me a renewed love for my family. My fear of death quickly disappeared because I knew my eternal life with Jesus began the moment I first asked Him to come into my life in elementary school.
My roller-coaster existence is gone as I rely on God to direct my life. And now I know that I am really special. It's not because of the activities I've been involved in or the grades I've made in school. But I'm special because God loves me and has a plan for my life. And that's a life worth looking forward to.
© Copyright 1996, Campus Crusade for Christ.
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