It Starts Here

natalie

Chapter 1 – OPO 

My whole life I've always done exactly what I'm supposed to do. I am a competitive swimmer. My parents aren't super strict, I have never tried to be the best at anything, I am not a perfectionist because I hate attention.  I think – as long as I am good and don’t do anything bad, then no extra attention will be focused on me. So, I've always followed the rules.

✅ Good Student 

✅ Good at Sports

✅ Church Attendance

✅ Dinner with Family

✅ Daily Prayers

✅ Bible Reading

✅ Church Confirmation

✅ No Sex

✅ No Drinking

✅ No Lying

So just like everything else in my life, I did what I was told and what was expected of me, but I did the bare minimum.

Chapter 2 – Control “C”

My relationship with God was just as superficial as the rest of my life, a mere idea with not much matter to it. It's not like I knew that I was becoming such a fake person, I thought for sure I was a very real and substantial person! I really thought I was doing everything right because I always do what I'm supposed to. When I entered college, I continued my pattern of how I was raised. I found a church to attend, I joined a local ORG, and I went to bible studies. I think for most people, I looked like a pretty good Christian from the outside. And I thought I was a pretty good Christian from the inside too! For the first semester or so... College athletics was a really big change for me. For the first time in my life, I was the oddball for being one of two, at the time, openly Christian athletes. Back home, in my comfort zone, my entire team prayed together every day. You did not fit in if you weren't a church goer.

Chapter 3 – Malabo

However, in adjusting to this new life I was building thousands of miles away from home, I adapted quickly, finding friends fast and even found a boyfriend that I fell for very quickly. We had the same morals and ideas on life because he was raised that way.

✅ Good Student

✅ Good at Sports

✅ Church Attendance

✅ Dinner with Family

✅ Daily Prayers

✅ Bible Reading

✅ Church Confirmation

✅ No Sex

✅ No Drinking

✅ No Lying

✅ Saving Himself

✅ Good Physical Shape

✅ Non-Drinker

✅✅✅ Future Mate

Even though we had different backgrounds; his saving himself for marriage, fit my physical definition of "perfect," and was against drinking, so within a few weeks, I was set on him being "my future husband".

Unfortunately, he was not quite as steady on his self-control as we both thought, so he started taking advantage of me early on into the relationship, which eventually lead to rape on several occasions. I finally freed myself from the abusive relationship feeling dirty, vulnerable, and unworthy of love, especially God's love. I refused to pray about it because I never wanted to have to admit the words out loud, especially to God, because I felt like it was my fault for letting it happen and for going back to him in the hope of making my "perfect" destiny work the way I thought it needed to. Admitting to this sin was really hard for me, and that's where my relationship with God suffered the most. While I moved on in my life and continued to live a seemingly "perfect Christian" life, I was building a wall up between myself and God. I continued to go to church and bible study as usual, but my prayers were few and far in between. I managed to block out any memory or association of any sexual assault, to the point where I wasn't even sure if it had happened or if I made it up in my head. Everything became a blur.

Chapter 4 – Broken  

About a year after my relationship with this boy ended, I broke my back in a swimming injury, and everything I'd worked so hard to do in the pool for 17 years was dwindling to a quick, unexpected close. Simultaneously, thoughts and memories of guilt and disgust from my past relationship started flooding my mind, and I was overwhelmed by my troubles and my fear of anyone seeing how broken I was inside. I felt like I couldn't tell anyone what was happening, so I kept it all in, even from God.

When my church friends asked if they could pray for God to heal my back, I either let them do so but hated every second of it, or politely declined their offers. I have come to realize since then that at the time, I was afraid to let them pray over me because if it "didn't work," if God didn't fix my back, then that would solidify my doubt of His existence. I had so little faith, so instead of allowing Him to work in all my brokenness, I continued to run from Him until I realized my life was starting to crumble before my eyes.

I started to doubt God was real because it had been so long since I'd seen him working in my life, and I had distanced myself so far from the bit of a relationship I had with Him before moving away from home.

Chapter 5 – Gutom

I eventually started to crave the relationship some people around me had with God, but I didn't understand how they achieved it. I started surrounding myself with more and more church people, and finally started praying again but I wouldn't touch the topic of the failed relationship with the boy when talking to God. I began constantly second guessing my faith and my self-worth.

After months of chasing God down, I finally got up the courage to bring my sin into the light because I was ready to heal my wounds. When I did, it wasn't a quick and easy fix like I'd hoped for. It was a long process of asking for forgiveness and asking Jesus into my life and understanding the love and forgiveness He was offering me. By doing this I was finally able to begin closing the huge gap in my life I'd made between myself and God. The release of this burden I had carried on my shoulders for a year and a half allowed me to open my eyes on everything I'd been missing out on. I felt a sense of real peace again when I started rebuilding my life with God. Finally, I had a true hunger for God.

Chapter 6 – Chasing Me / Following Him 

A month later when I went back home from college, and right at the hype of my excitement for my newfound faith, my dad unexpectedly died. I believe that God was working in every second of my dad's death because I saw God everywhere. We were all able to say our goodbye's to him in the hospital room (though he was comatose), I was able to tell him my story about discovering who God is, and I was at absolute inexplicable peace throughout the entirety of the end of my dad's life here on earth.

I know for a fact had God not chased me down and shown Himself to me so blatantly one month prior to my dad's death, I would not have been so at peace watching my dad's heart stop beating. I also know, had I not realized how lost I was without God, I probably wouldn't know God today after my dad died. God knew His timing and worked it all out perfectly so that I could understand His true love exactly when I needed Him.

Six months later, I was baptized in the ocean and God has never stopped working in amazingly dramatic ways in my life. He never ceases to amaze me by the work he does through others to bless me and through me to bless others. I am now on a mission to talk to people about love and how we get so carried away in our own plans and desires and miss out so much on who God is and what He wants for us in our lives. He loves us so much and doesn't want us to settle for our definitions of perfect. He has SUCH better plans for us, we shouldn't sell ourselves short.

Chapter 7 – Panibagong Pagibig 

I have always, very selfishly, worried in the back of my mind that God would ask me to give up everything I'd worked for in my life to serve Him. I've grown up to be so independent, and have always had a pretty good idea of what I wanted my future to look like. But as I look back at where I thought my life was going four years ago, and how He's flipped my world upside down recently with a career ending injury, I see that God has done exactly that.  He knew shaking the ground beneath my very comfortable life was what I needed to finally switch directions in my ongoing cross country run away from Him to sprint back and cling to Him harder than ever before. He has softened my heart and opened my mind to actually hear what He's telling us in scripture so that my faith is being built every day. So now, even though I have no idea anymore where my life is going, for the first time in forever, I can fully trust God's plan for me in that He broke me down to build me into the image of God that I ever knew was possible.

I’m sharing my story with you because I know that you may be just like me, in that I was mindlessly existing in life before this. I lived day to day just trying to get through it without even knowing that I was missing out on the abundance of life with God, full of his energy and passion to grow deeper in love with God and with the opportunity of the life we can have with Him.

Those of you who struggle with faith, I want to pass on some hope that especially in your darkest times when you don't even want to believe God is there, He is with you and guiding you, and sometimes throwing things in the way of your journey because He does have a plan for you. And believe me, I know how hard it is to truly give it all to God even after hearing stories of triumph and all because I felt so unworthy for so long. But if you just stick out the hard times until He takes away even the ground that is under your feet, He will reward you and change your life forever, into one of great hope and joy and love.

Before my goal was to follow rules but everything Starts Here. Now I FOLLOW CHRIST.

Natalie Nation

 

 

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True Love Waits is committed to impacting youth by teaching them to be
pure in heart which will lead them to make the right choices—especially in the issue of sexual abstinence until marriage.
True Love Waits speaks in large groups and following it, they train core leaders with TLW workshop lessons. Get full details on how you can invite us to your church, school or barangay,