“The power of satan is in an identity crisis.” That one statement made by Kynan Bridges zeroed in on my life in one sentence.
I once thought, in my younger years, that I was a good christian. I loved attending church, helping with sunday school, the attention I received from the church staff concerning my spiritual maturity and “specialness,” the words that people used to describe me: so innocent, so kind, so gentle in spirit, so talented, so this , so that. Those things defined my identity. So even when I started doing not so innocent and kind and gentle things, I excused them all because, hello, everyone said I was so good. My twenties were similar to many other Christians. I strayed. I strayed A LOT. Something was stirring in me, that was making me confront my co-called “not so bad” life that I had been living. And I couldn’t face the facts so I fled. Literally. I moved in with a friend far away from my parent’s home. Like, a couple of hours, but to me it felt like the other side of the country. To be honest, there really was nowhere else for me to go anyway. So to my friends I went, thinking I had escaped condemnation. No church, no old friends, no guilt.
It wasn’t too long before I began experiencing some strange behaviors. My once incredibly self controlled self had become uncontrollable. Fear gripped me like a possum to a tree. I would drive to school only to circle the campus for an hour before giving up and heading back home. I was physically unable to turn the steering wheel into the direction of the parking lot. On somewhat better days I made it into the parking lot, but couldn’t get out of my car. On even better days I made it to the classroom door, but the conditions had to be perfect in order for me to enter. If I was late I never went in. If there were too many students inside then I didn’t go in. If I just felt ugly or fat I didn’t go in. So, I’m sure you’ve guessed that I only made it into class about 25% of the time. Miraculously, I passed my classes. If I made it into the classroom I always did well. I got perfect scores on my exams and the information entered my brain easily. I loved school. But my attendance brought my grades down to C’s. At some point I realized I was really “off.” Mind you, there were no drugs, eating disorders, alcohol or anything like that involved.
Have you ever looked outside and thought everything looked like a hologram? I distinctly remember looking at trees and thinking that if I tried to touch them that my fingers would glide right through. That was my vision at that time. Everything was cloudy even though it was Santa Clarita and 100 degrees and blue skies everyday. Well, somehow I managed to see the school nurse because I didn’t know where else to go. And bless her heart, she seemed like the most wonderful person in my life at that time. The Prozac she prescribed help a little. I managed to start dating. I even made a friend in one of my history classes.
And then my life spiraled out of control.
My boyfriend and I were both depressed (though it didn’t occur to me at the time) and his background was everything that stood against my background. I began believing him and his philosophy that Christianity was for stupid people. During those three years I had an abortion that drove me further into depression. I began drinking alcohol. I began using obscene language. And the sensitive nature that my mother had tried so hard to cultivate in me completely broke. My heart couldn’t take it anymore. I finally believed that I no longer deserved the air I was breathing. That I was a waste of space. That people in my life would actually be relieved if I was no longer a burden to them. So, one night while at my parents home, knowing no one would be home memorial day weekend 2007 but myself, I tried to end my life. After what seemed like an eternity of vomiting red liquid I heard a small voice in the hallway. Without even knowing what I was doing I answered that voice. I blacked out after that and woke up to bright lights in the ER.
Friends, I want to say my life was perfect after that, but I would be lying. I want to say that I at least came to my senses and I repented and turned back to the way I should go, but that would be another lie. I was disappointed, quite honestly, that I had been “Saved.” I’d rather be dead. But life had to go on now. I didn’t have it in me to make another attempt, after seeing what this had done to my parents.
The next few years were eventful but not terribly important to this part of my testimony. Though I began attending a church with a friend I didn’t really have any direction in my life spiritually. The questions of who I was in this world, what I was made for, nothing was any clearer. Other than, I now have to be alive.
I’m sure you can guess what transpired during those years. The spiritual warfare that was raging. I did realize that satan had quite a hold on me. I believed all of his lies. And running from God, separating myself from him, had had an impact on my whole body. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized what had really happened the night I was admitted into the hospital.
The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
7 Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
8 Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
12 From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
14 He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
16 He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
19 He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.
God was angry for me? He delighted in me? He heard my soul cry out to him? This truly brought me to my senses. Every verse I read in the Bible mentioned how precious I am to him. Why hadn’t I seen those verse before? Or rather, why had they not been known to me before? I had prided myself in knowing the Bible before, yet I realized none of it had entered my heart. Then the transformation began. I became more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Bible started making sense and I began to start fully realizing God’s faithfulness. His love. His grace. The Gospel became exciting again. And all those old evil feelings were diminishing before my eyes. It was at this point that the Bible became so real to me.
Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”
15 While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. 16 Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. 17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”
18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. 19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”
Becoming fully aware of the spiritual warfare going on in the world gave me peace. Without the knowledge that our physical world is in a constant state of battle because of very real, very intense, spiritual forces, then we cannot become fully transformed. To not be completely aware of this is to not be completely aware of what our roles are in this world. This is the identity crisis that satan excels at producing. We have whole generations lost to identity crises… let us battle for their lives.
And deliver us from evil,
for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.