My Testimony

October 1st, 2017, a day that I will never forget.

As a child, I grew up in a “Christian” household. We did not attend Sunday School, or youth group, nor did we pray daily, or follow God’s commandments. We were the family who said grace before meals, yet did not sit at a table and eat as a family, who attended church on Sundays, but never volunteered or served, and deemed that good enough. To put it simply, we were what my pastor calls cultural Christians.

When I was about seven years old, I grew tired of the same Sunday routine. All we ever did was wake up, put on our nicest clothes, and sit in the pew for what seemed like an eternity, listening to some man drag on about things I could not understand. And every Sunday, I wished that I could be spending my mornings in my pajamas, enjoying cartoons and the warmth of my bed. Then, what I thought was a gift from God Himself, came a day where I no longer had to go. My mother grew tired of watching as we dragged our feet week after week, attending church simply because she was making us. She gave us a simple choice, either we wake up on Sunday mornings and attend church, or we sleep in and miss out. I bet y’all can guess which of two I chose…yup! Against my better judgement, I decided that I desired my want to be lazy more than I desired my need for the Lord. Let me tell y’all, it was a mistake.

From that day on, God and His Son were placed on the backburner.

The younger version of myself would say at first, life without Christ was a piece of cake. Yes, I had minor struggles, such as deaths in the family, puberty, and the typical middle school aged angst, but in the end, everything was okay, or so I thought. Life took a complete 180 degree turn, and I hit rock bottom.

My home was broken. I was not in a stable environment, and it took a toll on not only who I was then, but who I would become for the next six years. I became depressed. I could no longer tell night from day, or up from down. I stopped attending school regularly, I was no longer involved in extracurricular activities, and I pushed away all of my friends. I had no one, and nothing holding me in place. I had just about given up, until I did something I had not done in a long time; I prayed.

At this point, I knew nothing about God’s love, and how He is willing to meet you where you are. I simply wanted Him to hear my cries and fix my life. I prayed for a happy home, better self-esteem, and for the pain I felt to disappear. Being the impatient person I was, I expected to pray about this and see instant results, but I saw none, because that is not how it works. I continued on in a state of brokenness and despair, and I blamed God for not being who He said He was. I blamed our Creator.

I threw a tantrum like no other because I had given up on believing that He was capable of what I had grown up being taught. I partied, I drank, I smoked, I sinned. I did not respect myself, I did not respect others, and I definitely did not respect God.

I spent six years living a life without God, and without Christ because I was selfish. I spent six precious years living a sinful life because rather than focusing my attention on God, His promises and capabilities, instead I focused on my wants and needs.

I do not remember the exact moment I decided I was done with the lifestyle I was living. I did not go through some euphoric experience where I knew God was sitting next to me, saying “Tatyana, it’s time to stand back up and follow Me.” However, I do know that somehow, someway, I recognized that the woman I was being would not make it in this world another day. That woman would not be a positive influence on the lives of the young, nor would she find true happiness in life. That woman would be nothing, unless I accepted the Lord back into my heart.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Today, I look back at old journal entries, and not only feel the stupidity and naivety that once surrounded me, and now see God leading me to where I am today.

  1. On February 7th, 2017, “I did everything I could to fill the emptiness, but neglected to turn back to God. It was not until the darkness began to disappear, that I realized that it only did so because of an outside source.” Y’all, that was God being the light that He is –> Psalms 18:28 “For thou wilt light my candle; the LORD, my God will enlighten my darkness.”
  2. April 6th, 2017, “For many years, I resented God and everything He stood for because I felt betrayed, and believed that He hated me. During my time of resentment came rebellion. I was a monster, but God saw me as a child in need. He mended the brokenness, and took away the pain.” God called unto His child, and simply asked me to trust in Him and believe.
  3. September 28th, 2017, “There is no half love and there is no trying to love Him. If we love Him, we are to love Him fully, to the best of our ability, because any level of love other than that, is not love at all.” This is the first statement that popped into my mind when I read Romans 2:11 “For there is no partiality with God.” And it was then that I realized that I loved the Lord, but wanted to take the next step and declare my love to the public. That same night, our college ministry had their Thursday night worship, in which our speaker pointed out the three categories of where people resided in their faith, Abiding in Christ, Apart from God, and Abandoned Ship. Up to that point, I had spent about half of my life, abandoning ship. Rather than chasing Jesus, and trusting in God, I was chasing after sin, and believing I could handle life on my own, all because I was too stubborn to ask for help.

On that same night, God touched me. Right there, in the middle of worship, God told me what I needed to do.

And on October 1st, 2017, in front my family—who watched online–, my family at Shandon, and complete strangers, I confessed my love to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and became a better version of myself.

Be Your Own Hero

When we were younger, adults typically asked “who is your hero,” or “who do you look up to?” These answers ranged from parents, older siblings, teachers, firemen, police officers, etc. Those were all acceptable answers, but what about now? Who do we consider our heroes? If someone were to approach you today and question who you considered your hero, what would your answer be? Any answer is acceptable, even those from our childhood, but if you went through anything similar to me – which you may have read in Before the Journey Began —then you would ponder this question, and hopefully your answer would be: you. You are your own hero.

At some point in our lives, we have lost people dear to us—whether that be through death, or the end of a friendship— gone through mental health issues, and let’s not forget the heartbreaking ending to shows such as Zoey 101, or Hannah Montana. During that time, we felt as though we never get through it on our own. In some cases, that may be true. Some of us, myself included, needed guidance, or an extra push helping us to believe that we could overcome our struggles, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, you cannot be completely reliant on them. You cannot sit around waiting for something to happen, or someone to save you because you will end up waiting an eternity. Even if that person(s) is in the background cheering you on, only one person’s actions matter: ours. If we don’t stand on our own two feet, believe in ourselves and take action, then we will never reach a point beyond where we are now.

Underneath the surface, there may be that recurring sense of fear and doubt, but that’s okay because that may never completely go away. You were at rock bottom, and the memory of that never fades away, but look how far you have come. Overcoming your situation(s) weren’t easy, believe me, yet through all the trials and tribulations you pushed through. That homework you neglected because depression hit, was completed, even if it was three weeks late. That person who turned you down, ended up being a cheater anyways, so you dodged a bullet. Every curve ball thrown at you, managed to engrave the belief of never trudging through life, yet you did. You want to how? Strength and determination. You were pushed so far down, the furthest you have ever been, and you managed to get back up again. You are still alive, and that may not seem like it is much, but it is everything. Life wasn’t and isn’t always fair to us, and yet somehow, here we are, having only minor dents and bruises.

Please don’t waste away waiting for superman, or your knight in shining armour. Put your game face on, and overcome all the adversities life throws at you. Be your own hero because at the end of the day, you are always there to build yourself back up; you are always there when no one else is.