Testimony Series: Back to Life
In 2016, I graduated from Greenville College with a degree in Social Work and was heavily involved in campus activities, volunteering, and campus organizations. The journey I’m on is one that I could never have planned out ahead of time. In high school, my FCA leader always said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan.”
I was born in South Korea, and about a year later I was adopted. I have lived in Illinois ever since. I was raised in a Christian home, but when I was five my parents divorced. After that, my mom raised me and continued to show me what it was to be a Christian. She remarried when I was eleven and she and my stepfather have been married ever since. Up until high school, I thought my faith was more just going through the motions and doing what I was “supposed” to be doing because that is what my parents taught me. In high school, I attended a youth group that really pushed me to not just go through those motions, but to understand why I believe what I do and how to live that out. So, when I got to Greenville College, I was exposed to more than what was the norm or what was comfortable for me. Being there pushed me further into my relationship with God and into understanding that it was okay to have questions. The COR 102 trip was a key component in forming my personal statement of faith. From there, I felt confident enough in my faith to start leading a junior high Bible study every week and join Vespers Leadership Cabinet, which is something I stuck with for three years. Now, I am the Director of Christian Education at a church/school. Obviously, this is a “SparkNotes” and edited version of my Christian life because there is so much more that has gotten me to this point.
I feel like as Christians we are looked at by the world to have it all together and to be perfect. This is far from the truth, but we still try to fit a certain mold sometimes. I am someone who likes to have control and know every little thing that is going to happen. I am the guy with two planners just to be sure that everything lines up and is correct. But as hard as I try to act like my life is together, it is not. For years I had this wall built up so people would only see the “put together” side of me, but eventually what happens is the wall cracks and then little by little, it collapses. In the past, I struggled for years with anxiety and depression, and for three of those years, I also had an eating disorder. Anxiety and depression are still present in my life, but more controlled. Two months ago, I was diagnosed with something called codependency disorder. What crushed me more than anything about it was knowing that it was technically incurable, but it could be controlled.
In the past when life got dark and I had a hard time understanding how this was a part of God’s plan, I just shut down. I stopped attending church, I stopped reading the Bible, I stopped praying, and honestly I just shut myself off. I kept myself busy to keep my mind off things and would lie about how I was doing to others. Here is the icing on that cake: I was mad at God. I struggled particularly with that last part. How could someone who called himself a Christian be mad at God? I could not wrap my mind around that, and it made me hate myself even more. One night, I woke up and remembered a story my senior mentor told me during my freshmen year at Greenville. It was about a time when he was mad at God, but he kept praying and staying in the Word because he believed while he was mad at God, God was still teaching him something. He also reminded me of how David in the Bible experienced anger with God.
Psalm 22:1-3 says, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”
After that, I was encouraged to do the same. I tried to talk to God as if He were sitting right across from me. Sometimes I would yell. Sometimes I would sit there in silence, cry, or ask questions. Even though I was not going to get a physical response as I would when talking to a human, God is still God and He works in ways we cannot fathom. Things did not change overnight—I wish it was that easy. It took time, but my relationship with God grew. Looking back on it now allows me to see a new perspective.
The week I found out I had codependency disorder felt as if I was slipping back into that dark place. I shut down, I stayed in bed for a few days and felt defeated. Emotions are hard to deal with, but in that time I had really amazing friends reach out and two of them sent me songs. Music is one way that I see God’s healing. I believe that music transcends all boundaries and can do wonders when we just take the time to listen, just like hearing the Word of God. One of my friends sent me “Not Right Now,” by Jason Gray, and another one sent me a song called “Back to Life,” by Mandisa. I connected instantly to both, but “Back to Life” really struck something in me. There is a part of the song that goes,
Shame and depression, and all anxieties. They have no power over me. Addiction and strongholds, and every disease. They have no power over me. I, I’m coming back to life. I’m feeling hope arise. Because of You, only You, Jesus. I, I’m leaving the rest behind. My heart is satisfied because of You, only You, Jesus!”
I remember the first time listening to it and being overcome by emotion and a rush of God’s love. While it still comes in waves, I know I am becoming stronger because I am not in this walk alone. That is something I really love about our walks with Christ. We never have to walk alone.