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Jenna's Story

As a child, I was really quiet and in my shell. I felt lonely and like I wasn't accepted at school. Then I started to struggle with anxiety because I had stress regarding my grades and friendships. Regarding my grades, I was afraid I would fail and get in trouble. I made threats to hurt myself and run away. I told another girl who told the school counselor on me. I wasn't honest with my parents. I was scared of what their reaction might be. I wasn't very happy once adults found out about my anxiety and attempts to hide my feelings.

I thought I could handle it myself. I can be very stubborn. I wanted to do things my way and don't have an easy time accepting help or asking for it when needed. Others suggested multiple things, and I never really gave it a chance. I thought counseling was just a punishment for having feelings.

I hadn't really given God a chance. I thought it was just another story and sounded too good to be true. But there is a God who loves and wants a relationship with me. He also wants me to come to him with my troubles. God wants to hear from me. He loves and accepts me.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." —Matthew 11.28-30 (NASB)

I was searching for acceptance, hope, and love.

I got on Instagram, and it consumed my life along with video games and relationships. It made me happy for a little bit, but that quickly turned around. It made me feel worse and made my anxiety grow, also leaving me feeling very rejected. I found out that you can't put all your trust in [things], and filling my time with video games was making me feel miserable. What I thought were all the things I was looking for were nothing. I was still missing something, and that was hope, along with someone that was really my friend. God gave me far more than I could've asked for.

In 2013, we started going to a new church. I met Ash, and she has served as a mentor and great friend. Seeds were planted about God. I also got the opportunity to go to summer camp, where I first really experienced God during worship. I felt God calling me. That day, they asked if anyone who hadn't accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior wanted to, and I ended up inviting God into my life that night.

I often talk to Ash and tell her when I am having a problem, and she points me toward God. Whether that is texting me Bible verses, or telling me to listen to worship music, or to pray, she points me toward God. Another person who's been a good influence on me is my mom. Even if it was just telling me to pray about it or read the Bible. During these times, I was surprised that I felt happy, free of trouble, and at peace when I went to God.

Yes, I still struggle with a lot...

But I know now that God's got this and trust that He will make it work for His good. I now also know that I'm accepted and am loved by Him no matter what my flaws are. I'm not perfect about going to Him with everything. Nobody is, but the truth is, God is present and all knowing. There isn't anything we can't go to Him with. We can try and hide from God all we want and hide our imperfections, but He is a good father who knows exactly what we need before we say a word.

"And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." —1 Peter 1:8-9 (NASB)

Christ being in my life has made a major difference. I've really started to notice that in the past couple months. God has made Himself very real to me. When I read His Word or take my problems to Him, He gives me peace and comfort. I feel joy even in tough situations. I am learning to deal with my emotions in a way that pleases God. I desire to read the Bible and pray, even listen to worship music when I feel down.

God's forgiveness has had a major effect on my life. The truth that He loves me enough to send His Son to the cross to forgive me of my sins so that I don't have to feel guilty. So that I don't have to face death because I'm imperfect. That has changed me because I have the security of knowing that I'm forgiven and loved no matter what others say or how much trouble I might be in or how much I might beat myself up. I have started to learn recently that He is enough, and it's not worth putting myself down. My identity is in Him. I'm a Child of God‐no matter what anybody says or what I do, I'll always be His and nothing can separate me from His love.

I just want to please God with my life and live in a way that pleases Him. I wrote this in hopes that people would come to know God as the good Father He is and know that His Love is unconditional.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish have eternal life." —John 3:16

—Jenna - age 14, 8th grade

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