I started kindergarten at Clinton Elementary School in Maplewood, NJ. Everyday we wrote a sentence about what we did and drew a picture to go with it. I’m not quite sure what I wrote but I drew a picture of two people sitting at a table eating dinner. My teacher saw it and exclaimed how it looked exactly like a drawing in a popular children’s book. I would say that was one of the first moments I got satisfaction out of praise. It was short lived because I got tired of drawing and despite my slight protest my teacher made me finish that drawing. I think that sparked an addiction for me. I have always considered myself a jack of all trades but a master of none. I was decent at every sport I tried but rarely made varsity. Untapped potential is what they called it. As this addiction for praise evolved, so did a very competitive attitude. I had to be the best at everything and if I wasn’t the best on paper, I would be in front of my parents, teachers, friends and anyone who would recognize it. I finished what I started. I never failed. I found all my value in my intelligence and ability to “one up” the best. And as a result I formed my identity from all the praise and awards I received.

I dedicated my life to Christ in high school and strived to be His best student. I studied harder, memorized more and made sure all my answers were right or even better than that, controversial. As my relationship with God progressed, He began to ask me for my identity but I refused. I thought I knew better. Why in the world would I refocus my whole life and cut off the very place I drew my value from? I relied so much on myself that God was an accessory to me. No, he could not touch my identity. Regardless of my declaration he began to set His roots deep into my soul and work out my salvation. He began to prune and snip branches off my wilting tree. The process was heartbreaking. Every time He would get rid of one dead branch I would try to replace it with another saying, “Look! It still works!”

Eventually my pride was shattered and He peeled my fists open, one finger at a time, to release all that I had been holding on to. The process sounds poetic, but it wasn’t. Some people, when they go through trials, are what I like to call “pretty criers.” A single tear rolls down their cheek as they bear the storm with a beautiful sadness. That wasn’t me. I was full blown crocodile tears, boogers running down my nose, puffy blood shot eyes and all.  It was all kinds of ugly. Slowly but surely God started to soften my heart. I started loose all confidence in myself and devloped a rightous confidence that stemed from my only life source, Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t move without consulting Him. I learned everyday that what I thought was myself was really God. He controlled everything. I started to draw my value from Him and focused on what he wanted from me.

Today there are many things changing in my life. I am no longer who I thought I was. With that came a new direction. I tagged you in this post because I know you all fear the Lord and I need serious prayer. I am about to embark on a new path than the one I laid out for myself and would love your prayers. I’ve told my parents which was a huge step. I have yet to tell my family and most of my friends. Pray for me these next few months that I find a school to attend, find a scholarship or loan, and that I will continue to seek out God plan and find my identity in Him. I know what I am to do and all that I can hope is to bring God glory in my obedience and submission to Him. I’ll leave you with these lyrics that have been guiding my focus for the past couple of months.

“You won’t relent until You have it all.
My heart is Yours
I’ll set You as a seal upon my heart, As a seal upon my arm.
For there is love that is as strong as death, Jealousy demanding as the grave
Many waters cannot quench this love”

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