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By Colin Jorde

I am a freshman on campus and in these past few months God has really challenged me to work on the issue of pride in my life. These verses from Jeremiah 9 sum up this challenge for me. It says from verses 23 and 24:

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom

or the strong man boast of his strength

or the rich man boast of his riches,

but let him who boasts boast about this:

that he understands and knows me,

that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,

justice and righteousness on earth,

for in these I delight.”

These words struck me pretty hard. I realized that I had the wrong intentions and loyalties in my life. While living for the glory of God was a piece of my life, it was not the focus of my life. I was much more concerned with receiving recognition from my peers and looking good in front of people. Rather than giving God that attention, I soaked it up for myself.

Coming out of high school, I thought I had it all together. Life was good. I had graduated from my small school with success in academics and athletics. I had a good friend group, a supportive family, and a solid church. With a college and a major already picked out, I was confident and ready to jump into this new chapter of life. In my head, I was thinking that I could really handle this “doing life” thing. I would just need to follow my future plans, study hard in college, and make a few friends. I’d be set, and if I gave a little bit of the credit to God, then I’d really be doing good.

However, those thoughts of self-righteousness were interrupted this fall. As I settled into NWC, I found I was no longer the best. Everyone at Northwestern seemed to be better than me in some way and I no longer appeared as the ‘best kid’ in any of my activities. On a good day I was feeling pretty average. That’s when the realization started to click for me. I was living my Christian life with a confused mindset. I was working only for my own personal gain. I may have said that God had done this or that thing in my life, but in reality, I was working to gain recognition and acceptance from people around me. I was living selfishly for my own glory. I finally realized that it is impossible to live for God and live for myself.

Basically, I have learned two main things from the verses in Jeremiah that have changed my mindset for living. The first one is to live humbly as Philippians 2 says to live as Christ and look not only to my own interests but to the interests of others. And secondly, if I will take pride or boast in anything, I will boast of my God. I’ve found that these two reminders for life are not easy to keep in mind. I am often distracted by my pride and shortcomings, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, it is possible to keep my motives in check and my mind in line with Christ. Living humbly is a moment by moment choice, yet it is so fulfilling when I choose to live for God’s glory and not my own. 

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By Kelsay Parrott

In this world, it is extremely easy to hide personal scars. This is not the case for me. My scars are worn like armor around my body.

I was burned when I was four years old. My body has 45% full-thickness third degree burns. The scars are on my arm, face, back, chest, abdomen, and leg. I could go into detail of surgeries (all 52 of them), the time in the hospital (almost a year total), and everything that has stemmed from being a survivor. This season of difficulty, ironically, is all about the Lord in my life.

We often want the perfect life, no struggles, no pain, and no suffering. However, we know this is not the case. The difference between “the perfect life” and a life with the Lord is seeing the good that comes from the bad. I have endured a lot due to my burn injuries, my struggle and suffering has often led me to question God’s love. “Why would a loving God be so cruel and hurt one of his children?” But after some time, my questions changed their focus to self-hate. “How did I do this to myself? What did I do wrong to deserve this?” This caused me to go down a deep path of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts and attempts. I was ashamed of who I was, what I did, and everything about my existence upset me. I was so ashamed of myself that I avoided looking in a mirror for an entire year! The person I saw was so terrible that I tried to hide her away. Self-harm became a daily occurrence since the age of nine. I was not living the life God wanted me to live.

Something had to change! I finally said enough is enough! After my one suicide attempt, I realized I am here for a reason. God gave me a purpose for this life. It was time to get help and seek God again! This is the moment I became a seeker in Christ and not just a spectator. I went to counseling, went to church, and began to become a better me. Because I struggled for so many years being a burn survivor and being ashamed of who I was, I had to learn self-love. It took years for me to accept myself and who I was. Self-harm has become less and less as I search for the Lord as my refuge instead of the blade (and I am proud to say I am almost two years clean!). Worship music and the word of God became my refuge from the terrible things people were saying to me. My self-love grew as I grew to understand more fully God’s love for me!

God saved me. He walked along side me every step of this long and hard journey, never leaving my side. He molded me into his image and made me a beautiful young woman! My chains are gone! I am no longer ashamed of who I am and what happened to me! I proudly wear my scars as beauty marks and signs of God’s strength through me!