This is the eighth in a series of Aniblogger Testimony posts, where select writers will discuss their personal faith. Today’s post is by Annalyn of Annalyn’s Thoughts. The previous posts in this series were written by Lauren Orisini, R86, Nikko, Arianna, Ed Sizemore, Canne, and an anonymous blogger.
I became a Christian at a very young age. To be more precise, I recognized Jesus as the Son of God, who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead three days later. I named Him my King and committed my life to Him.
It’s about fourteen years later, and I’ve barely dented the mountain of things to learn about God and myself. As a Christian, I have a whole new identity in Jesus Christ. My record’s wiped clean of all sins – past, present, and future – and exchanged for Jesus’ perfect record. Every mistake is gone, so that when God looks at me, He sees me as His beautiful new creation.
You’d think, after fourteen years of knowing the Lord, I’d find my identity completely in Him, and rest in Him, knowing I am loved. At the very least, you’d think I’d feel that way most of the time. But no. More often than I’d like to admit, I try to center my identity around less fulfilling things. I identify myself as the Anime Fan, the Bookworm, the Smart Girl, the Future Teacher, the Writer, or the Nice Girl. I think, “If I just get a 100% on that math test, my identity will be secure,” or “If I write a new blog post twice a week, no one will doubt that I’m a writer, through and through.” But then something happens, and I have a lower grade, or I don’t blog for a couple weeks. I find these identities to be relative and unreliable. In the end, they just create a burden for me to carry.
And so, I ask the same questions as everyone around me, struggling to accept the answers I find in the Bible. I find myself broken and questioning my identity. I’m on a journey with God, and He’s not the type to drop all the answers in my lap or make the path easy.
When TWWK sent me the message about a series of posts from a range of anibloggers, I happily agreed to participate. Little did I know that I’d finish my contribution a month later than planned, feeling frustrated with myself. I’m trying to figure out some things in my life right now, and that reflects in the rest of this post. If it seems a bit long, I apologize. But my faith is a huge part of my life. So when life is complicated, it’s hard to summarize my faith in a few short paragraphs.
I don’t consider myself a poet, but the next part came out in poem rather than prose.
Who am I?
Such a simple question
So why does it torment
Each of our hearts
At least once in our lives?
I am the blogger known as Annalyn,
The daughter, the eldest sister
The bookworm in the corner
The anime fan browsing Crunchyroll
The geek who loves Calculus
The haunter of the forums
I am an investigator
One who loves research and truth,
A serious girl, a cautious girl,
A student near adulthood,
A child unprepared
For what she thinks is coming
I am the daughter of the King.
Me? His daughter?
A princess, in God’s presence?
An heir, alongside my Savior?
Jesus’ friend, a trusted ambassador?
I am a cracked vessel
No, I am broken
The girl whose smile masks a cry for help
The perfectionist who freezes
Both as student and as blogger
The “strong Christian girl”
Who feels she’s anything but that
I am the weeper scrambling to maintain
Her façade of perfection,
Telling them she’s not perfect,
Acting as perfect as she can
Trying not to let them see,
Praying that someone, anyone, will.
I am the girl who cried out for help
For anyone to notice
For anyone to remove the mask
For someone to see she’s broken
For someone to know,
And love her anyway
I am the weary whose cries weren’t heard
The ragged, alone when friends didn’t hear
Or just plain moved away
The smart one too broken to thrive in school
Who spends hours escaping in anime and books
I am one whom God hears
He notices me
He sees me
He knows what’s in my heart
He loves me
Remains beside me
Even when I say He’s not enough.
I first struggled with anxiety and depression a little over two years ago. I couldn’t pinpoint all the causes, though my friends’ moves played a large role. I denied my feelings, pointed to Bible promises and told myself I didn’t need to feel too sad or alone when they moved. Something good would come out of this, and Jesus was still with me.
Rather than make things better, denying any pain only made things worse. What I told myself was, to a certain extent, true. God took a hard situation and worked some very good things out of it. And He never left me, even the time I stomped around my room, arguing with myself and with Him, questioning the existence of a caring God. I found comfort in Him and in His promises. But that didn’t change how my friends’ moves affected me. When I shoved that pain down, I felt it deep inside me. It grew in my subconscious, until my parents, a psychiatrist, and I all recognized the plague of depression. Anxiety rode the same wave, though I couldn’t understand its cause. ADHD was also heightened, and focusing took more work than it once did.
I felt better for a time. Sure, I still struggled with focus and making friends, but overall, life seemed much better. Then this year came, the year I knew harkened great change. Anxiety crept back, ADHD symptoms rose again, and finally, just in the past few weeks, I noticed depression begin to seep in the cracks. Over the past few months, I’ve scrambled to preserve some of the level of functionality I usually have in school and blogging.
Sometimes, I wonder about the causes of my decrease in productivity. Where do my mental and emotional struggles end, and where does laziness begin? Am I working my hardest? Or have I given up on overcoming this?
The easiest thing for me to do is burrow in the comforting world of fiction and fandom. When my escapist nature is at its worst, I consume anime at a ridiculous rate, spending most of my waking hours watching it (including many hours when I should be asleep). The real world presents so many worries. It’s easier to watch Naruto learn to walk up trees or the ETU soccer team score another goal in Giant Killing.
At the same time, I hate it when I spend too much time escaping responsibility. Doing that hurts not only me, but also anyone who relies on me. I know God has a much greater plan in store than just surviving, frustrated with inability to thrive scholastically with the ease I once did. But a feel trapped. When I recognize a touch of despair, I understand that, in my heart of hearts, I don’t completely believe everything God tells me. Knowing in my head is a whole lot different than believing in my heart.
This past weekend, I went on a Christian retreat with about 30 other students. Right before one of the sessions, I wrote a prayer that included the following plea:
“Jesus, I need You. Tell me I’m precious, tell me You created me, quirks and all, and that You love me just the way I am.”
The session ended up being on Satan’s lies and God’s truths about us, particularly us as Christians. The speaker referenced Colossians 3:10 and its surrounding verses. Among other things, it said, “You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.” I grasped onto that verse and the others the speaker quoted, as well as many other truths. I began to internalize what the Bible says about me. As I listened to the speaker and the related testimonies of other leaders, I wrote in my notes:
I am an amazing new creation. I have no reason to be ashamed. Even if I’m struggling.
I am being renewed.
I am not a disappointment.
I am not a failure
God is not done crafting, renewing me.
“You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.”
In the image of my Creator.
Even if I’m incomplete…
I must be alright.
In fact, I must be amazing, too.
I am precious
He won’t give up on me,
Even if I do.
He doesn’t just love me.
He likes me, too.
There are others with similar struggles,
Who also understand
But even if I were the only one,
Jesus would have died for me.
He would have the patience for me.
God is not done with me yet.
TWWK asked us to write about our religion or lack thereof. When I hear the word “religion,” I think of stained glass windows, tradition, or a category including all variants of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and other belief systems. I have nothing against those things. But if asked to describe my faith, “religion” is not the word that comes to mind. For me, my faith is a journey traveled on roads both rocky and smooth, a relationship with the Lord God, a never-ending process in which I am crafted by the Creator’s loving hands.
I committed my life to Jesus about fourteen years ago. There have been ups and downs. Sometimes I’m passionately pursuing God. Most of the time I’m a bit complacent, and sometimes I forget about God entirely. But He’s never too far from my mind. Watching anime, doing homework, trying to figure out the mess I call my mind, sobbing, laughing – whatever I do, whatever I struggle with, Jesus is there. I may still sin, I may forget that God loves me the way I am, and my faith may at times become thin. But, before God, Jesus has made me clean, and He will never forsake me. I hold onto these truths, especially to this: I am being renewed in the knowledge according to the image of my Creator. God is not done with me yet.