This is Not a Phase: My Testimony

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:

 

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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.

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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.

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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?”
*silence*
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:

Hear — Romans 10:17
Believe — Hebrews 11:6
Repent — Luke 13:3; 2 Peter 3:9
Confess — Matt 10:32
Baptized — Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15; Acts 22:16

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.

Closing Thoughts

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.

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Melanie Jonas
    10/21

    Thank you for sharing such personal words. I was so encouraged by you when we met at FAR, and this just seals those feelings. Writing this took courage. I believe this post has the potential to move many souls to Christ. Thank you for writing this. I plan on sharing.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Melanie Jonas
      10/21

      Melanie, wow, I really should be thanking you for the strong example you set for me at FAR. I’m so grateful we connected at that brief point in time. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. God deserves all the glory in this story; I’m just happy I could share.

    • Avatar
      Kre' Reneau
      > Melanie Jonas
      10/21

      This is absolutely Amazing Liz. I love this honestly I do.. Life is transforming. Each of us has a story of separation from our true self ,, thanks for sharing and I will definitely be apart of your world.. love always
      makresha m. reneau

  • Avatar
    Alyssa B
    10/21

    Love you dear — and your heart. Thank you for sharing this. The encouragement you gave me at FAR has been re-administered and strengthened by understanding where you came from.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Alyssa B
      10/21

      Alyssa! Thank you for the encouragement and thank you for reading! Your words mean a lot to me, as I have so much respect for you and the strength of your faith as a young Christian.

  • Avatar
    ashley t
    10/21

    Liz, this is incredibly brave and well thought out piece. And while I knew Sprinkles, she could never compare to the warm, loving, loyal LizRoy that I became friends with, not ever. I’m SO happy that you have found a way to find peace and your strength through faith to really let LizRoy shine through, because it was LizRoy that I became friends with, through late night ice cream and the five (six?) kittens that you adopted so they’d have a home, to trying to be there for others as an RA that was all LizRoy. You never needed Sprinkles and I say that from the bottom of my heart. I think I’m truly blessed to have you in my life, and I am thankful that by your words, you’ve found the happiness that you bring to so many others. Love you, girlie.

  • Avatar
    Barbara
    10/21

    Liz, this is a beautiful! testimony, you shared what many hold inside and the depression gets worst. I am so proud of you and I wish nothing but they best for you. God is good. all the time God is good. Sometimes we tend to value and prioritize earthly things over and above the things of God.In Matthew 6:11 Jesus reminds us “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You fell, but you got back up. God was there all the time ready to help. Love you

  • Avatar
    Danielle
    10/21

    God bless you cousin! Transparency as a child of God is very important and I thank you for sharing your story with not only others but myself as well. This serves as a reminder that we all seriously need God to live a whole life, a real life that’s worth living. Abundant living….. Something that we can’t get from walking in our own way. We are all lost rather we know it or not and rather we want to believe it or not before we let Him into our lives completely and wholeheartedly. May God continue to bless you cousin. Love you!

  • Avatar
    Teresa Harris
    10/22

    Love you Liz! I so appreciate your courage, conviction, and determination. You are a living example of the hope found in Jesus Christ.

  • Avatar
    Cami
    10/22

    I knew your turn around in life came during college years, but I never knew the extent of change you underwent or the pain that brought you here. You are a constant blessing and encouragement to me. You may never know the lives you touch with this honest insightful story. And I get to see you often and have you in my life!! I’m happy your my sister and my friend!

  • Avatar
    Mom
    10/22

    WOW! So telling, the pain you must have been in and I was clueless. I applaud you for sharing your story of hope through GOD. Keep up the good work. Love you,

  • Avatar
    chirotomom
    10/22

    Thank you for sharing your story, it could be my name written throughout. Your heart for the Lord is what I noticed when I meet you at FAR. I can say I understand and we are blessed to know God and His son, through whom we have been given life eternal. John 17:3. May you always walk in the light. Greetings from MN. and hugs from Olivia.

  • Avatar
    Chabela McFashion
    10/23

    Awesome in every way lil cousin.

  • Avatar
    Laura Williford
    10/24

    This is wonderful. Although we have been friends for a long time, I feel like I learned more about you from reading this. I am happy you found peace.

  • Avatar
    Melanie S.
    02/11

    This was a beautiful, open and heartfelt post. I was wrapped up and I loved the closing. Faith is definitely a journey and having Christ at the center of our journey makes it a beautiful ride. I am happy to have found this sweet space of yours and am excited to explore more.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Melanie S.
      02/11

      I’m truly humbled by your kind words. Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a sweet, sweet comment, Melanie! I love that this journey in Christ places wonderful, like-minded people in our lives as well.

  • Avatar
    Ashley L
    04/27

    Omg Liz I LOVE THIS!!! You’re so brave for being vulnerable and sharing your story. You are right, there are a lot of people out there who feel as Sprinkles felt and this is a wonderful testimony to share.
    Ashley L recently posted…10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting my CareerMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Ashley L
      04/27

      Thank you, Ashley! Your encouraging words mean a great deal to me. I’m just happy to be able to share my testimony of God’s work in my heart.

  • Avatar
    Ida Pahus
    07/01

    Thanks for sharing! Really like your style.
    Feel free to check my blog out as well:
    livinglifefullyalive.wordpress.com