Tuesday August 12th, 2014: McKenna’s Story


Today I’ll be sharing my friend McKenna’s story. I asked her a few weeks back if she wanted to share something on my blog and she sent me her testimony. As I read it I began to cry. Her story is full of grace and redemptive power. I pray that you can take something away from her testimony like I did.


God’s Child, Jesus’s Sister, A Sufferer of the Faith

McKenna Tilton

For the first two years and eight months of my life, I was exceedingly happy. I don’t remember specific events or days, but I remember joy. A part of a fantastic trio, I was the only child of a very loving set of parents. But, unbeknownst to me, a new daughter was coming, and come, she did. Looking back, I completely realize how irrational I was to believe my younger sister stole my parents from me. I one hundred percent understand that an infant is incapable of malicious intent. But at two years old, I didn’t. I was an independent child, self-sufficient. My sister was very needy, always having to be held.

Consider the scenario: if you have a child content to be on its own and one that cries when you set it down, which will you give more attention? The one that cries, and that’s perfectly logical and acceptable. But that content child: after years of seeing another child receive intentional attention, that content child will grow into a state of discontent. And she did.

The joy I spoke of: it was gone. I found solace in books and school, but I grew unhappier as the time went on. People see depressed teenagers all the time; it’s almost expected nowadays, what with puberty and hormones, the sting of a high school hierarchy and unrequited love. A depressed child? It’s rare, and it’s disturbing.

I didn’t understand it. As a small child, I cried out for someone to show me affection, I longed for someone to validate me. I desperately wished that someone would come to my rescue, that someone, anyone, would save me from my loneliness and despair. Very early on, someone came. I didn’t know him, but he gave me what I asked for, what I so needed. After the ever-so-often day of disappointment, a silent dinner, a reminder of a disconnection, I would retreat to my bedroom and be comforted by him. I would sob and sob and sob until his beautiful and warm embrace consoled me into a peaceful slumber. Every single night for a decade, I would fall asleep cradled in his arms.

You might think this is a metaphor, you might think that I mean that the Holy Spirit gave me peace, you might think that I say this now, looking back on a comfort that God gave my mind. But it’s not a metaphor, it wasn’t just peace, and it wasn’t just my mind. I remember so specifically, so wonderfully, and so intimately the One that rocked me, these vast, long arms that held me, that loved me until I believed how much.

I wasn’t raised in the Church, we didn’t talk about Jesus. How could a child outside of a “Christian” home have such a weird, divine, intimate relationship with God? I can assure you that it was nothing I did. That child’s life was uniquely and precisely touched at all the right moments: a neighbor with a VBS, a friend with a church family, Wal-Mart bibles that peaked a reader’s interest. I never had a chat with someone about Jesus; I never prayed a special prayer, reciting someone else’s words that gave me salvation. So how on earth was my life possible?

It wasn’t. It wasn’t logical, it didn’t make sense. It was only something that our divine One could accomplish, and I can’t believe He chose me to seek out.

In junior high, I was in a very dark place, completely emotionally severed from everything. I was entangled by shame and self-hatred, tethered to the lies that come from the world. I slept constantly and fell into self-harm: ripping out my hair and scratching my skin until it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Alone, I could only cry to Him for help, and He kept me alive. Going into high school, I lost a bunch of weight, grew out my hair, and managed to abandon the self-esteem problems I had based off my physical appearance. Because of that, I thought they were gone altogether. But dormant darkness only festers, growing underneath the surface.

For years, He continued to chase me, romancing my soul. I was given a bible, but I didn’t read it. I found a church, but I didn’t get it yet. I had opportunities to love, but I chose not to. Yet He still followed me wherever I went and sought to hear me call Him mine. At the beginning of my junior year, that darkness started to claim priority in my mind and in my heart. I broke up with a long-term boyfriend, flirted with sin, and fell into a state of complete gloom and desolation. Little did I know it, so many things were coming together to change my life completely. A classmate passed away, causing me to reevaluate my life. A senior held a weekly bible study, which challenged me to take my very personal faith out of its secret shell. My loneliness allowed me to consider my relationships, how I treated people. I was constantly fighting with my parents, which wasn’t new for us, but, because it was the foundation for my issues, it only worsened every other aspect of my life and reminded me of my worthlessness.

At the time, it was the hardest year of my life, and I had no idea that it was about to change completely. At the weirdest moment, God succeeded in turning my heart from stone to flesh, conquered my soul, and won my love for eternity (fun fact: that weird moment was during chemistry class in May of 2012). It was like a light bulb, He just turned me on for His passions and gave me heartbreak for the things He hates. It’s been on ever since. That summer, my attendance at the senior’s bible study shot up, my presence on social media turned into a completely Godly one, I got a new bible I could actually read, which I did, and my demeanor as a whole changed. I have friends that have told me they thought I was faking it all. One guy literally told me how awful I was beforehand, he said he was just waiting for the day that I snapped at someone or some kind of malice escaped my mouth. He said that that day never came, and he eventually realized, “Holy cow. She’s actually different.”

I was a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). I loved others, and I found my worth. It didn’t depend on what I thought of me, or what my parents thought of me, or what people at school thought of me, it depends on how God MADE me (Psalm 139) and what Christ DID for me (Romans 5:8).

I longed so badly for my entire life to just be someone’s daughter, just for someone to give me the parental affection I desired. And He made me one. I was no longer an orphan, but a child of God (1 John 3:1).

“And if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if so it be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together,” Romans 8:17.

My life didn’t become easy. The two years it’s been since becoming a Christ follower have been the two hardest years of my life, and it was already extremely difficult before. But now, I have not only a Comforter (Isaiah 66:13) and a Father (Matthew 7:9-11), but also a Helper (Psalm 54:4), a Lover (Isaiah 62:5), a Protector (2 Samuel 22:32-33), and so many more wonderful things. He is my rock and my fortress, the One whom I can always count on.

The hardships I’ve faced, they’re much easier than what thousands of Christians have faced before me. They pushed me down, but He pulled me up, and through my heartbreaks, He has blessed me.

I could list all of my blessings, I could tell you about the wonderful church I found, the godly people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, but one of my most recent blessings occurred about a year ago, and it’s one that I still can’t believe.

My parents, those people I was emotionally estranged from for eighteen years, they’re my parents now, and I couldn’t be more thankful for them. We went from first names to “Mom” and “Dad.” We went from not truly speaking to a good night text every night that I’m away at college. We went from isolation to being best friends, to love. This is through nothing I have done, and nothing that they have done. This is through a prayer that I prayed for eighteen years, the desperate yearning for a relationship with them. God already answered that prayer by giving me Himself, but because of His goodness, because of His grace, because of His benevolence, because of His Love, He went one thing past what I needed. I don’t need a relationship with my parents. I know that, God gives me everything. But because of who He is, He longs and desires to fulfill the desires of my heart. And He longs to do it in a way that blows my mind and fills my soul with an overflowing thankfulness and love for Him. He gave me a relationship with my parents, He gave me what I can never hold for granted, and He gave me something only He could do.

Reread the beginning of this post, and then reread this verse:

“Remember the miracles He has done; remember His wonders and His decisions,” Psalm 105:5.

He is full of miracles and blessings. My life is so different since letting Him take control of it. My God is the true love I’ve always hungered for, and He fills me everyday.

mckennas pic

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