Coming into college I was numb. I had reached a point where it was easier to feel nothing at all than to attempt to mend the brokenness that consumed me. From the outside I appeared perfectly fine, but I felt a constant emptiness and craving for something more. Something that would make me feel something inside. Because of experiences within the church growing up, I felt rejected by God. It seemed that He was interested in everyone but me. I tried to pray to Him but it felt as if He never listened. The lies I began to believe about the Father kept pushing me further away from His grace.
I entered college realizing I had a problem and desperately wanting to be a part of community. I found out about Chi Alpha and was blown away by their authenticity and genuine love for the Lord and each other. I was able to attend Fall Retreat with Chi Alpha where my life was radically changed. I entered the weekend still carrying the weight and baggage from high school but left feeling free and newly alive.
Throughout the weekend, the guest speaker spoke on identity. He challenged us to ask ourselves “who told you that?” about the lies we believed about ourselves. I began to ask myself “who told me I was depressed? Who told me I’m not good enough? Who told me I’m not worthy of love?” As the Lord began to replace the lies I had believed so long with His truth, He also replaced my pain with joy. As leaders began to pray for me they prayed such specific prayers over my life that on their own could have never known. Sitting on the ground of the sanctuary I felt a literal weight lift off of my shoulders. I experienced the overwhelming love of God in a new and personal way. I began to dance and laugh with genuine, heart felt happiness for the first time in months.
Returning back to “reality” after Fall Retreat, I had to continue shifting my identity from the things of this world to the value I have in Christ. This meant giving up toxic relationships, a constant need for striving, and the value I sought from the approval of others (easier said than done, trust me). But God pursued me. He chased after me and for everything I gave up, no matter how painful, he replaced with something better tenfold. The community Chi Alpha has offered me has led to exponential growth in my life. The Lord has continued to use this ministry to comfort me, support me, and to challenge me in my walk with Him.