I’ve had many short-lived phases in my life: my tomboy phase with my Boy Scouts obsession, my Bollywood phase with my Shah Rukh khan obsession, my screamo music phase with my…screaming obsession. The list could go on. Perhaps the more encompassing phases in my life could be categorized as life pre-Sprinkles and life as Sprinkles. Sprinkles — the infamous name of the my self-created alter ego in college — represents me when I was at the peak of my absurdity, but more on that later. I’ll start at the beginning:
Part One: Life Pre-Sprinkles
My pre-Sprinkles phase covers my middle school though high school years. It was during this phase that much of the rocky foundation was laid for the creation of Sprinkles. Two words best describe me during this phase: painfully awkward. I was so introverted that I rarely spoke to people unless spoken to and even responding was a struggle. Most of the time, I just wanted to disappear into the walls of my classroom and be forgotten. To further add to this dangerous mix of low self-esteem and inherent awkwardness were all the identity issues that come with being a young, middle class black female in a predominately white environment filled with wealthy, maniacally genius overachievers. By the time senior year rolled around, I was desperate to rid myself of my high school existence .
It took two whole days at Penn for me to realize college was the perfect place for me to craft my desired persona. No parents to forbid me from my desires, no former classmates to remind me of my past. And I had ample access to the key ingredient for breaking down the introverted barriers that prevented me from becoming the person I wanted to be: alcohol. With the help of lots of liquid courage, those barriers came tumbling down. I quickly made friends and I frequently engaged in many of the reckless activities most repressed high school kids dream of doing in college — only, I always managed to take my behavior to the next, ridiculous level. I was let loose in a world of uninhibited pleasure sans accountability, and I couldn’t figure out my limits.
Part Two: Life As Sprinkles
Enter Sprinkles. By sophomore year, my behavior became so ridiculous I created an alter ego to take the blame for my poor decisions. And (some) people loved Sprinkles. You could typically count on her to liven up the dullest of parties — even if the night ended with her passing out in a bathroom. Recounting stories of Sprinkles’s drunken antics became a common and beloved pastime among my friends and me. As hard as I tried to separate the lines between Liz Roy and Sprinkles, inevitably they blurred and I lost the best of myself to the worst of myself. Once Sprinkles took over, the consequences became real. My grades dropped, I couldn’t keep up with extracurriculars, and I started unintentionally offending, and consequently, losing friends. Worst of all, I hurt my parents. I was so desperate to rid myself of my past, I forgot how important they were to me. So I never called. Never shared with them how much I was struggling with life in college. They had no idea how much of a wreck I was emotionally until I began battling depression. For a while I didn’t tell anyone about any of the deeper issues plaguing me. Despite being surrounded by people, I still felt unbearably lonely, as though no one could understand the pain I endured.
Then the unthinkable happened. During summer of my sophomore year, I saw a sermon that successfully convinced me I was going to go to hell because of my sinful lifestyle. I cried for hours and then phoned the closest church I could find to fix my wayward soul. The female minister read some scripture with me, “baptized” me by sprinkling water on my face, and enrolled me in the new Christian class (that I rarely went to). I went back to school confused — I didn’t feel some magical transformation in my heart that prevented me from wanting to sin. So I immediately became discouraged and returned to my former carefree lifestyle. I didn’t completely abandon the idea of serving God. I just reasoned with myself that I would live my life now and live for God later.
In fact, I’ve always felt the urge to obey God by living a lifestyle pleasing to him, but I ignored those urges to pursue my own goals. Even before becoming a Christian, I understood what Jesus said to his Disciples in Matthew 16:
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.'” (Matthew 16:24, 25 ESV)
I knew that following Christ meant forsaking a pursuit of the life I wanted — and I wasn’t ready for that sacrifice.
Then I started living my post-college “dream” working in New York as an assistant to publicists for popular Hip Hop recording artists like Drake and Lil Wayne. I worked for celebrities, partied with celebrities, got hit on by celebrities — and I hated every second of it. I worked for people whom the world idolizes, but they were all so obviously unhappy, so obviously lost. What was there to look forward to if the people who’ve “made it” seemed to have everything but nothing actually worth striving for? So I quit. I had no money. No job lined up. So I moved back to LA to live with my parents.
For an Ivy-grad who once held so much promise, moving back home with my parents a year after graduation was the ultimate failure. All the other low points in my life were false alarms — THIS was my all-time low. It was during this humbling time, when I had few worldly treasures and accolades to brag of, that I made the best decision I have ever made.
Part Three: New life, New Journey
On February 29, 2012, I decided to bury Sprinkles for good and dedicate my self to becoming a true follower of Christ. It began during my second viewing of the sermon I watched in college that frightened me to “baptism.” The sermon that once instilled the fear of hell in me now stirred up all the guilt I had accumulated from willfully disobeying God and throwing my blessed life away. That guilt finally broke me down to the point where I was desperate for God’s forgiveness. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, I knew that only my pride and selfishness kept me in such a decrepit state. I had to return to the home of my Father as humble servant knowingly unworthy of His presence.
So I called up a friend whom I knew frequently attended churches of Christ. What always impressed me about her was her knowledge of the Bible. She could confidently defend her beliefs because she actually studied the Bible (unlike myself, who didn’t even own a Bible). I tearfully babbled my concerns and expressed my desire to become a sincere Christian. Then she asked me a question I thought I was silly at first:
Friend: “Liz, have you been baptized?”
Me: “What? Of course I’ve been baptized — like three times! You know I am Christian!”
Friend: “Ok, getting baptized as a baby, getting sprinkled with water, and simply accepting God in your heart are not biblical descriptions of baptism. So…have you been baptized?”
Me: ” I don’t know.”
My mind was blown.
She then put me in touch with a deacon from her hometown’s church who showed me several scriptures that clearly indicate a few conditions for salvation:
All of the above passages illustrate how the path to salvation is a multi-step journey, of which baptism is a crucial step. Baptism represents a burial of one’s former self and fleshly desires and the raising of a new person, whose sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. While baptism is one of the conditions set by God for our salvation, it is not the final step in our journey — it’s merely the beginning.
From that brief study, my heart and convictions changed. When I went back to New York, I immediately sought to get baptized and live a life that reflects my commitment to serving the Lord rather than myself.
I get tearful thinking of the many undeserved blessings God gave and continues to give me on my journey. Because of His grace and mercy, I was able to trade my lowly, broken spirit for redemption and a new life through His son, Jesus Christ. With this new life came increased knowledge of His Word and incredible, godly people who continually encourage me to be stronger, more faithful servant to the Lord.
As I write this I’m reminded of yet another powerful blessing I received: a new perspective on life that diminished the power of all my insecurities. He freed me from the perils of my mind by allowing me to live for a greater purpose that is more meaningful than just myself. My focus on my insecurities lead to a destructive selfishness that affected everyone around me. Thankfully, it’s not about me anymore — it’s about developing a relationship with Christ and encouraging others to do the same with biblical discernment and obedience.
That’s why I happily proclaim that this Christian thing I’m doing is NOT a phase — it’s a new journey that I’ve begun with Christ at the helm. I have no intention to go backwards and resurrect Sprinkles because I know now how doomed she really was.
I also know there are so many people out there who are like Sprinkles: struggling to find peace and happiness in this world, trying in vain to numb the pain of discontent with various vices, and constantly excusing the guilt that pricks their hearts. And for those of you I just described — I pray with all my heart that you make the decision to leave the deceiving perils of this world behind and follow Jesus. Trust me, it’s the best decision you’ll ever make.