Jesus, the HERO of my story.
Hey everybody, Moriah here! First, let me say that I’m a little bit nervous to be typing my testimony right now. Currently, the devil is feeding me fear and lies that I need to stop typing, my story is not important, and it’s too risky to share some parts of my life that I would rather people not know. I mean, people could lose respect for me and call me a fake if they heard my whole story, right? See, that’s the thing I keep having to remind myself of as I write this… I am not a perfect person and I never will be until I enter the Kingdom of Heaven and God doesn’t expect me to be.
From the time that I was born, I have been in church. I grew up learning about the stories of the Bible and who Jesus was. I have been very blessed with parents who have been believers in Jesus for a long time and who have raised me up in a home where I heard about Christianity. They disciplined me, corrected me, and taught me right from wrong. Somewhere along the way though, the idea of me never wanting to disobey/disappoint my parents turned into me wanting to look perfect in their eyes so I would in turn be praised by them and they would be pleased with me.
I’ve been singing in churches, the community, and in competitions for most of my life. In my adolescent years, I sang at my church and in 4-H competitions. I started to notice that people really enjoyed hearing me sing. Most people that heard my voice, loved it. Over the years, my talent combined with my desire to obey my parents, turned into me desperately needing to appear perfect in the eyes of man.
This desire to be seen as perfect has manifested in different ways throughout my life. During my elementary school years, it looked like making sure that I kept perfect grades. I wanted to be a wonderful student in my teacher’s eyes and be known by them. Fast forward to middle school where the entire atmosphere of school was different. My main goal changed from solely seeking the approval of my teachers, to seeking approval from my peers. My goal was to find friends and be in the popular crowd. I joined lots of clubs and sports teams and continued to sing at my church and other community events. During my middle school years, the idea of appearing perfect (never making a mistake) evolved into me wanting to appear as the popular, beautiful, outstanding Moriah that everybody knew and loved. I wanted the girls to want to be friends with me, and I wanted the guys to notice and want me. This mentality pushed me to do everything that the popular crowd did and caused me to act and look like I was doing great in my walk with Christ at church, but in front of my peers at school I acted like someone completely different.
As I type this, I keep becoming more and more captivated of just how BEAUTIFUL the gospel story is. The way I was living in middle school reminds me of the story where Peter, a disciple of Jesus Christ, denies Him three times. He was best friends with Jesus, yet didn’t want to sacrifice his reputation and image for knowing Him.
When I started my freshman year of high school, I thought I really wanted to ‘sell out’ for Christ and surrender many areas of my life to Him. Looking back now, I see that me wanting to ‘sell out’ for Christ was just me wanting me to get back to that place of being “perfect” in the eyes of my peers after a few years of trying to blend in with them. I was ready to do anything to get back to having that perfect reputation.
Honestly, I worked really hard at never making a mistake (or sinning), but my perception of God and the gospel was all wrong. I thought that since I was a Christian, I had to be as close to perfect as I could be. I thought that after all I’d done, God was disappointed in me and would continue to be for a long time so I needed to do everything I could to show Him that I still believed in His son and that I was still His child. That perception of God is SO far from what the Bible says. In my mind, if I made one big mistake then people wouldn’t think I was a true Christian. People would think that I wasn’t “perfect”. Guys, do you see how wrapped up I was in being “perfect”? It truly makes me nauseous to think that I used to look at God as a God of earned grace instead of a God of unending grace.
Throughout my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I met some new people and got really involved with the youth group at my church. I loved being there and taking part in all the activities. Soon after, I became involved in Radski Young Life and became very close with a lot of the people that went. I was growing in my relationship with Christ and started taking my walk with Him more seriously.
Junior year began and December came quickly that year, I remember this time of my life like it was yesterday. I got news that my youth pastors were stepping down from the position and pursuing the call to go to Montreal, Canada and church plant. Soon after that news, I found out my specific YL leader was stepping down from her position and heading back to her hometown to stay. Christmas that year would be the one year anniversary of my aunt passing from cancer. So many things were happening all at once and I quickly became overwhelmed by all of my mentors leaving me. I was hurting and one night I remember wanting to just have fun and essentially ‘let loose’. I wanted to not care for once what I did and forget about everything happening around me. I had reconnected with some old friends outside my youth group and YL and the opportunity came for me to smoke weed. So, I did and I got high. I immediately felt regret and knew that there was nothing that was going to take away the hurt of all that I was going through.
Despite my actions that night, the Lord was so evident in protecting me from the repercussions of one mistake that could’ve changed everything for me for years to come. I promised Him that I would never get near it, touch it, or smoke it again. He protected me from turmoil in my life and I wanted to give my life back to Him. In that moment, I didn’t want to just promise that I wouldn’t smoke again, but I also knew I needed to change other things that had become ‘normal’ for me. For a little over a year, I had been underage drinking too. I never got drunk, but here and there I drank with friends privately, because, well you guys know, I didn’t want to ruin my perfect reputation by drinking publicly. I knew that things had to change in my life. I got to a point where I was living a double life in front of God and I felt like a lukewarm Christian. So, I quit pitying myself for what was happening in my life. I knew that there was a greater plan and purpose behind all of my mentors leaving.
The summer before my senior year, I came to realize that every decision I made would either honor God or it wouldn’t. At that time, God brought some pretty incredible men and women of faith into my life and it began to affect my life for the better. I decided to quit fishing for compliments from people when I would sing at events. I started singing solely for Him and His glory. I got to a point where I honestly didn’t know how to react to compliments anymore, because I wanted so badly for people to see the Lord through the gift He gave me, instead of praising me for the voice. I also stopped being so wrapped up in winning singing competitions, or winning anything for that matter. All I wanted to do was love on my classmates, have a fantastic senior year, and go out with a bang for the Lord. What’s awesome is that God honored my decision to start living my life ‘sold out’ for Him and stop living it for myself and my glory. That year, I was voted in as Homecoming Queen, I was Vice President of our senior class, I got nominated as a Most Valuable Cougar nominee, I competed in one last Growing the Future Talent competition, and I graduated from high school with Honors. I don’t list out those achievements to bring me glory. I list them to show everyone who is reading this that when you really want to surrender your life to God and you want to bring Him glory through everything you do, sometimes things will happen that you’re least expecting. I’m not saying that life is going to be beautiful all the time because it’s not. Pursuing a life of holiness is not easy, sometimes it’s rather hard. However, when you surrender your life, He will bless you and use your walk with Him to bring Him glory and bring others to know Him more intimately.
Since I graduated high school, many things have changed in my life. I went to New River Community College for a year and a half and now I attend Radford University. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I graduated high school and now I’m studying to be an elementary school teacher and use that in ministry. If anyone knew me during my freshman year of college, they would know that I wanted to be a part of a group of girls who got together to study the word and encourage each other for SO long! When the Lord answered that prayer a little over a year ago, I was more than excited to be a part of it and have continued to go for over a year now.
The past two summers I’ve got the opportunity to go to Montreal, Canada on a mission trip to help church plant with my old youth group leaders. Montreal is home to many different nationalities, cultures, and religions. I’d say the main religion practiced is Catholicism. However, there is this known “Montreal” belief that a lot of people identify with. It’s the belief that if you believe in a higher power that’s great and if you don’t that’s okay too. Unfortunately, all of these belief systems have missed the mark. They don’t see Jesus Christ as their hero! God broke my heart for these people and since my first trip, I have felt the call to be on mission each day and now. He has even called me to be involved in full time ministry after graduating. However, I didn’t always see mission trips this way. In the past, I would see people bring back pictures of themselves with the kids in poverty and post them on social media and talk about themselves and what the trip did for them! I would tell people that I would love to go on missions trips because I had seen how popular these people were on social media and how they got viewed as TRUE Christians. I can’t help but think that maybe the reason for me wanting to go on missions back then was for the sole purpose of having an opportunity to appear as a perfect Christian in the eyes of man. However, the call to mission looks SO different to me now. It has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the Father! He calls us, as imperfect as we might be, to go to the nations and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit! That’s the CALL! I challenge whoever’s reading this to hear the call and go!
All I really know to tell you is that over the last year and a half I have grown to love Jesus so much more than I have in my entire life and I have an understanding of the gospel that I didn’t have growing up. I know I will never understand the full magnitude of God’s love for me but I’m beginning to take a peek into it and let me just tell you, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! When you stop pursuing a perfect image and pursue a perfect God, the trajectory of your entire life will change. Friends, let's live a life that is moved and guided by calling and purpose made complete by the one true God.
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