BY: MERIAH BARAJAS
Pain. Before I knew God, my life was full of it. I’ve realized that even now with God, there is still much of its presence in my life.
Before I knew God, my life was marked with the pain that others inflicted upon it. Abandonment, verbal abuse, disappointment. My dad left when I was 7, we lost contact with him when I was 12 and I haven’t talked to him since. Some of my very best friends who said they cared about me left. Boyfriends said they cared and left; everyone who said they cared left. Most of my friendships lacked respect and true genuine love. My relationship with my mom was never strong, and most of our time was spent throwing hurtful words around. I felt alone. I didn’t really know why I deserved to feel so neglected and disappointed when I had such a big heart. I felt that I didn’t matter, because not many people I cared about seemed to stick around. My mom, however, was the one who had stayed with my brother and I our whole lives despite my dad leaving.
I remember specifically a time when my mom and I were in the biggest argument of my existence. It’s something that stands out so vividly in my mind; a moment when pain was unbearable. She didn’t want to see me, hear me, or deal with me. I cried everyday; I cried during school, at home, even at basketball practice. I felt that the only parent that was still around was giving up on me just like my dad and everyone else had. I wrote my mom a letter and told her how hurt I was. I recently looked back on the letter and I read a line that said, “Sometimes I just lay on my bed not wanting to move because I can feel myself falling apart.” I broke down and cried after I read it. Partly because I remember the way I felt in those days, and also because I knew that the girl who had lain there in her room, needed a Savior. She was at her lowest, with disappointment piled on disappointment, and needed hope, needed someone who could take her life and flip it upside-down. My heart broke for that hopeless girl. Remarkably enough, I remember reading something else I wrote during the time this was going on. The scene is written as so:
I couldn’t move laying there on my bed. I didn’t feel the need to move. I just cried, but in my mind I knew I needed to get up. I had to call someone–anyone. I felt so empty clutching the cross I was wearing around my neck and I just remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to keep living this nightmare.’ As if the cross gave me some kind of life, I lifted myself off of the bed and went to go lay down with my puppy which we recently rescued. Somehow I felt like that’s exactly where I needed to be. She too had been abandoned, the way that I had felt for so long. It made me feel that one day someone would save me, the way I saved her; out of true genuine love, and for want of helping a soul in need. As she licked my tears, I felt like she was telling me to hold on, for my Savior had not given up, but was yet to come.
I didn’t know why I thought of this as my puppy licked away my tears. I had a tiny hope, in the darkness that consumed me. I couldn’t understand it; I had experienced this, and had written it down way before I even knew what God could do for me. It’s as if God was telling me to hold on and that something great was in store.
About a month later, I started to get to know God thanks to a friend who led me in His direction, and from that day forward, the girl whom pain immobilized no longer walked this earth. To this day, the grace of God never ceases to amaze me, and to this day He is the most amazing thing in my life.
I realized my worth to God. I realized I was loved, irrevocably and immeasurably. My Savior didn’t fail me. Jesus came into my darkness and scooped me out of there. He saved me from the deepest depths of myself.
No matter what dark hallway you stand in, no matter what pain you face, there is hope. Trust in these words: when you have nothing left, God is there, ready to give you more. When the world fails you, when the ones you love most abandon you, when you feel like you’re losing yourself, and your grip on humanity, it means that God is about to start working.
Honestly, I have nothing good to offer God, but what I have, I will give to Him. Simply because He loved me enough to have His eye on me even when I wanted nothing to do with Him. That’s why salvation is free; because His love can’t be earned. Love poured out on that cross, and freedom is there for anyone who reaches out, and that is the reason I am writing this today. We just have to recognize that we need Him, and that we can’t do it alone.
Stop doing it alone.
Even after I realized the love of God and found the missing piece, I still felt pain. If my life were to be lived right from here on out, by truly following Christ, then it wouldn’t be all rainbows and butterflies; it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. I found that life as a Christian doesn’t make life easier; it makes life worth it. I still felt hurt by the rude things people would say; I’d still feel sad when people walked out of my life. However, I knew that I had God. That God was never going to abandon me, never going to leave me there lying on the floor. That was my cushion to every fall; the fact that my God would love me more than anyone else could, and more so, when no one else would.
My heart has since been burdened for those who don’t know God, who go through worse measures of pain than I had, and see no end in sight. Those who feel so alone, the way that pain-stricken girl had lain on her bed, not wanting to move. I saw myself in so many people. I saw people feeling the way I had felt and thought that keeping God to myself would be such a selfish thing. To just tell someone that they were forever loved by a God who went so far as to sacrifice His son to know them could save a person’s life. I always remember the way God saved me, because He truly saved me. It’s my motivation to tell others that there is hope, no matter what pain, no matter what circumstances they face. God is God. Nothing is too hard for Him to handle, and nothing we do can scare Him away. Even now, after being saved, I’m a mess. But I’m God’s mess.
So if now, in this moment, you’re facing something you just can’t handle, something you can’t seem to move past, then stop and give it to God. Heck, give Him your life while you’re at it, and He will do wonders with that mess of yours. We mess up constantly—it’s the reason we have a Savior.
Giving my life to God was the best decision I ever made. Since then, my life has been so much richer, and I’ve had a real reason to keep going. So yes, my life is still full of pain, but it is also full of an even greater hope; hope that people will be victorious in this world, that they will find the love of God. Hope that one day there will be no more pain or tears. So I’m holding on to God. Through whatever storms I face, He is going to be there: defending me, protecting me, and lifting me up. He wants to do the same for you. Never forget, peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.