A Story Worth Telling
“I never thought my life, my testimony could move anyone- why would it? My story was hidden away because I believed in the lie that it wasn’t worth telling. I refuse to believe that lie any longer!” Read how God led Elise on a journey out of self-imposed independence into total reliance on His strength.
I love stories. I always have. I remember reading through “The Chronicles of Narnia” with my Dad when I was young. Nearing the end, he told me we would finish the book the next morning. Well, we did- in part because I woke him up at 4 am to do so! It was a story worth telling. The older I became and the more stories I heard, the more excited I became to hear people’s testimonies. To hear the passionately told stories about how God’s power pulled people out of darkness and into His light! Those are the stories worth telling. But I never felt like my story had power or passion. I never thought my life, my testimony could move anyone- why would it? My story was hidden away because I believed in the lie that it wasn’t worth telling. I refuse to believe that lie any longer!
I grew up in a Christian household, with parents who loved Jesus and desired to pass their love for Him to their children. I was the oldest of 4 kids and we had such a blessed childhood; we all loved each other well and my parents worked hard to teach us the biblical, Godly values they were never shown. We lived in a tiny townhome in Washington D.C. and it was in that townhome, at the age of 9, where my dad pulled me aside after I finished washing the dishes and explained to me how Jesus was the ultimate dish-washer because He takes all the filth from all the dirty dishes and places it upon Himself. After this talk I accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Savior.
Shortly after this happened my parents made the decision to move to Ohio. I had difficulty making friends, so my family became more important to me than ever. All throughout my life there was this pressure to set a good example for my siblings. Pressure which only increased with time. It was once described to me that my siblings and I were like a formation of geese, and I was at the head, bearing the brunt of the heavy winds in order to protect my siblings. I began to strive on my own efforts. Belief in the lie of “you’re never good enough” became a persistent one in my heart. Because of this lie, I developed a tireless work ethic accompanied by an “I can fix it all by myself” attitude. I was a good student, I had a part-time job after school, and I absolutely refused help from others. I was so focused on being “strong”, on not becoming a burden on other people that being fiercely independent became a source of pride in my life.
This pride and self-sufficiency grew in my heart all the way through college. Then, my junior year of college Satan attacked my safe place, my family. While my parents were away, I was the first-hand witness to some really hard things with my siblings. I was left traumatized, hurting, and feeling like if I would have done something differently things would be better, that everything would be okay. I wouldn’t allow myself to cry; I had to be strong for my family and keep a tight lid on my emotions. Even when friends came to be with me and they said “It’s okay, you can cry now,” I couldn’t. “Not until after my parents came,” I would tell myself. Or “after I made the 5 hour drive back to school,” then I would allow myself to be emotional- to grieve. Grieving never came. I never allowed myself to appear weak. I pushed all of the pain and all of the emotion down until I felt nothing.
The shutdown of my deep emotional state continued throughout the rest of my time in college. I stopped having consistent quiet times and going to church regularly. I told myself it was for the sake of my education, but I was lying to myself. In reality I had allowed numbness and apathy to take over and was living a dull existence. After I graduated college I came back home in search of work and I got plugged back in at Apex and joined a house church. But I wasn’t growing. I was floundering. All this time I still had my walls up because I told myself couldn’t appear weak or vulnerable. I had to be strong, I had to be self-sufficient, I had to save myself!
Well, God rescued me from myself and my pride by stripping away my independence layer by layer. In order for healing to begin, you have to go through some pain. Al I had done was slap some duct-tape and bandaids on my wounds. I was actually the one stifling my own healing process by allowing infection to take root. God cauterized my wound with a burning hot rod. He allowed me to get fired from my job for no distinguishable reason. He took away my car (which I had of course paid for with my own money in high school.) He broke me down spiritually and physically. He completely humbled me, making me totally dependent on Him and His provision. He then opened my eyes to the sin that I had let take root in my heart: pride, apathy, and insecurity in my identity as a child of God. Praise Him for His Holy Cauterizing Iron, for without that hurt I would still be living blind to my condition
Christ cleared-house on my heart and cleaned out my garden of weeds so He could plant His seeds of love, truth, and righteousness. He has been so good to me through it all, even when my eyes were filled with myself. He has made me feel again, out of the slumber of my life! He has never failed me, and I know that whatever comes my way in life He is my only hope of strength, my Abba, and I could not live any other way. 2 Corinthians 12:9 declares, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” He has made my story into His story, and that is truly a story worth telling!
A Reflection- What lie are YOU believing about yourself or your circumstance that is preventing the grace, healing, and growth readily available to you? Pray you will allow God’s ‘Holy Cauterizing Iron’ to remove the sin taking root in your heart and mind.
Author- Elise Herzing
Photographer- Hilary Tebo