Years ago, I couldn’t imagine my life would turn out the way it has. My twin sister and I were born to our single mother, Shevelle, when she was 21 years old. Though times got tough, today I can stand tall and say that Proverbs 19:21 reigns true; God’s purpose will prevail.
I grew up in the church; my grandmother and great-grandmother made sure I knew who Jesus was. They made sure I had nice clothes to wear, a meal to eat every day after school, that my homework was done and that I went to bed on time. I don’t think I paid much attention to the absence of my mother and father during my earlier years. However, as I got older the vacant spaces they failed to fill became increasingly aware to me. I remember struggling to feel like I was enough and often questioned if I was wanted, or even loved. At times I felt silly about these questions because my life, though it wasn’t perfect, was filled with many blessings.
Growing up we attended church every Sunday but after moving from my grandmother’s house, my mom grew busy with work. Though she always made time to spend time with my sister and me, we didn’t see her much. When my parents weren’t at an award ceremony or talent show I would tell myself, “Mom is working hard to keep our lights on and have what we need so she can’t be here.” I held it together.
For the most part, I was a positive kid. Mom referred to me as the class clown. I did very well in school, aside from the fact that I talked too much. Sadly, as time progressed I remember seeping into a deep depression. I was filled with anxiety and didn’t tell anyone. Eventually, I grew overwhelmed and looked for things to distract me from my loneliness. I fell into the wrong crowd. I began lying and making bad decisions one after another in a desperate attempt to gain my family’s attention. My twin sister also began cutting herself. I hoped this would open their eyes but after telling some of my family members and seeing no action being taken, I felt helpless.
I tried God. I heard he was a healer and made several attempts to grow closer to him. However, alter call after altar call, I went home with the same question, “What next?” I spent many nights crying out and contemplated ending my life. One night, I grabbed a bottle of pills and after taking 3, I stopped. I realized I didn’t want to die; I just didn’t want to hurt anymore. Through it all, I knew God had a purpose for me and I wanted to see it through.
I didn’t know it then but God had shined the light. I started going to church again with my aunt and reading the Word. I got to know my Father and his great love for me. I learned I was called to be set apart and despite how I felt about it, God said that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It was a process, but I was able to deal with my unforgiveness towards my parents. I started to experience this unexplained joy and overwhelming peace. I wanted to tell everyone! The veil was torn from my eyes and consequently, as I walked around my school campus my heart broke. The smell of weed in the halls, the fighting, the disrespect and anger I saw brought tears to my eyes. If only other students knew that God had more for them. Jesus sacrificed his life because he loved them so much. He cared for them dearly.
I vividly remember a couple arguing in the bus lane. The young man, out of frustration, pushed the young lady and they began fighting. I wanted so badly for them to know they didn’t have to live life that way. I wanted God to use me in my school to spread the love of Christ. I felt a calling to help! After years of buying into the lies of the enemy, I was eager for others to know the truth.
I knew it was God when I was introduced to Students Standing Strong. The desire had been placed in my heart to start a Christian club at school, so it was no coincidence when the door of connections opened and I was introduced to Students Standing Strong (S3). S3 club is an escape for many of my peers and me. It gives us a chance to spread hope and positivity. Sadly, so many of the students are dealing with suicide and depression, broken families, and broken hearts. That being said, we need more Students Standing Strong clubs in schools, reminding kids that God knows them and has a plan for their lives.
I’m confident that you’ve experienced looking for an item in the dark and needing a light consistently shining in order to find it. That’s how I think of Christians at times. We are the light shining bright and representing the goodness, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ. We must consistently stand firm and show the light to kids at my school…and in every school. They are desperate to know that Jesus is the way the truth and the light.
Thank you for taking the time to hear my story. Also, thank you Ms. Datrice, my S3 coordinator, Pastor Brown, and my church, and of course, Students Standing Strong. Lastly, may I encourage you to keep fighting the good fight of faith and remind you that no matter what it looks like, God’s purpose will prevail in your life. God’s called us together to be his light whether that’s at work, at school, or in our homes.
– Tia, S3 Student from New Orleans