Maybe it was because I was the first-born in my family. Or maybe it was just my personality. But I like to please people and make them happy, whether it’s my parents, teachers, pastors, or other authorities in my life. Little did I realize that this character trait of mine could actually keep me out of heaven and send me to hell. How’s that, you ask? Well, here’s my story.
Our family started attending a Baptist church when I was in fifth grade. I began learning about the Bible, God’s plan of Salvation, and what the Bible teaches about being good and not sinning. So I decided to “do that” and became a “good girl” in the eyes of many. My teachers and other adults often noticed and complimented my good behavior, which encouraged me to continue. I was actively attending church, youth group and Christian school and volunteered my help around church wherever needed.
But they never saw the other side of me – the side my parents saw sometimes—and the reality I knew about the real me. Inside I was often angry or depressed. When things didn’t go the way I expected, or people didn’t treat me the way I expected, I had no patience and got very angry with them – even uncontrollably upset. I used to get so angry because there was NO change in my life. I kept doing the same things that I did before, which produced depression in my life, and led to thoughts of suicide. I was in such turmoil and misery that I just wanted to end it all. My mother and grandmother noticed this in me and expressed God was trying to help me see that my real problem was a sinful, proud heart that was not yielded to Him. their concern, but I didn’t really feel convicted that I was wrong – I blamed others and excused myself and viewed myself as being fine with God.
But God was trying to get my attention and show me my sin. I tried to ignore those feelings of conviction and pour my energies into pleasing others. It worked for a time, but when I would get so angry and impatient with others, it bothered me deeply. One day in particular I was really struggling, confused, and trying to figure out what was going on in my heart. I got counsel from my mom and from my youth pastor’s wife and worked harder to keep my emotions under control.
But that only dealt with the surface issues. God was trying to help me see that my real problem was a sinful, proud heart that was not yielded to Him. I was under such conviction about my spiritual condition that I stayed home from school one day, and the next day went in to talk to my youth pastor. He asked me several questions and helped me clarify what was going on. Then he drew a diagram that really helped me see that I was more concerned about pleasing other people than I was about pleasing God.
Profession + God’s Promises = Assurance of Eternal Life
Profession + Feelings and Comparisons = ???
Suddenly I understood that my problem was that I was trusting in myself and my good works to get me to heaven.He then shared his own story of how as a teen he was living a lie before he was truly born again. As he talked, I could identify with his story. I finally came to the realization that I was NOT saved, and not OK with God and realized I needed to deal with this root heart issue. He gave me some Scripture to read and encouraged me to go to a classroom and pray and seek in the Bible for the answer I was looking for.
I got alone and started reading the gospel of John. Many verses made sense to me but one verse in particular seemed to just jump off the page: John 5:30a, which says, “Not of mine self.” Suddenly I understood that my problem was that I was trusting in myself and my good works to get me to heaven. I knew with my mind that my good works could not save me, but I didn’t believe it in my heart. I somehow felt that God would accept me because of all I supposedly did for Him. But Ephesians 2:8-9 says clearly, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that it is NOT OF YOURSELVES, it is the gift of God.” After I read that verse I finally submitted to God and accepted his free gift of salvation.
On December 6, 2011, I surrendered to God and was saved. Everything changed in a moment. The emptiness I experienced vanished away. My burdens of depressions fell off. Trust me, I am far from perfect, but with God’s help He is helping me. Now I have a reason and purpose to live, to bring glory to God through my life and actions. There is a difference in my life!