He is Love
By Ailyn Carbajal
Forward: Before sharing my testimony with you, I will admit at first, I was ashamed of what happened to me. I didn't want anyone to ever know about it and see that side of me; the vulnerable side of me. I now realize the love Jesus showed me every day of my life should not be hidden. His love should be embraced, because there are people that need His love and hope just like I did from all the heartbreak and pain that I went through. My story, my testimony is not about that, but rather, about God's love and how it changed my life, and everyone around me forever.
My whole life, before I encountered Christ, I always believed I had everything I could ever want. A family, social life, a healthy body to play the sport that I love, and yes, I believed in God and prayed to him, but not to the extent where he was the picture of everything. I believed if I was good and did not cause too much trouble, God and I were good. This was until my junior year in high school, which forever changed my life.
In the beginning, I had all the worldly things that society applauded—a great group of friends, varsity soccer, a cool Instagram feed, and a relationship with someone special. But like all things in this world, they were temporary and bound to end. When I was in that relationship, I was always in pain, because he couldn't love me the way I wanted to be loved. I knew I could not blame him, because it was me who was feeling that way. In the beginning of 2018, we ended the relationship.
At first, I thought this was for the best, but over time my heart changed and so did I. I guess you could say I didn't know how to handle this heartbreak, and sought validation and comfort from others, which always drifted away as soon as the words were said. I couldn't understand how I could give my all to someone and that person wouldn't fight for me or see everything that I gave. Feeling sad, confused, and lost, I didn’t know who I was and certainly was not happy with the person I had become. To top it off, the friends that were meant to be my close friends laughed at me behind closed doors. What should have been weeks, ended up being months of feeling this way.
You could say that I was depressed. You couldn't see it at first, but over time, if you looked closely, you could see my clothes falling off my body from all the weight I lost. If you could look past my makeup, you would see the puffiness under my eyes from sleepless nights filled with tears and sadness. Words really can't describe the feelings, thoughts, and anxiety that I went through. I would tell myself, “There's people that have it worse,” or “How selfish you are to be like this, when kids are starving and wish they could have what you have,” and even, “Suck it up, there's more ‘fishies’ in the sea.”
I was at my lowest. It got to the point where the Ailyn that I knew, who had it all, was now empty and dead inside and out. My mother noticed the change, however, and knew I needed some help. She took me to a doctor, and I took a test to see if I was depressed. Deep inside I already knew that I was, so it didn’t break my heart when the doctor gave the diagnosis and a prescription for medication that would control it or make me “happy” again. I will never, though, forget the look on my mother's face, balling in tears because she couldn't believe that her daughter, once so full of life, needed medication for depression. Nonetheless, when I was at my place of total despair, it ended up being my place of destiny.
Something inside me told me to not to take those drugs and instead, attend a YEM (Youth Evangelization Ministry) event at POP to see if this could be the way out of my despair. I attended my first Sync youth night during Easter break (coincidence? I don't think so). Within minutes, I knew God was guiding me to be right there and that he was with me. From the songs during praise and worship, to the teens that I met that evening, and most importantly, in the words that the Youth Minister, Matt, was saying, I knew God was speaking directly to me. Ever since then, I have devoted my life to Christ and to this ministry.
Ever since, I have been able to trust God in every situation that I am in, because I know that the force that is against me is nothing compared to the force within me. The Lord not only changed my life, he has changed my family life and every relationship or encounter. He is at the center of it all. While I cannot say my life has always been easy since having been saved, I can say that God's love is my strength to keep going, to keep living, and serving him. I know that if I ever forget or fall away again, all I need to do is look up at the cross, and there it is—His Love.
God has used POPYEM to help me grow as a child of God. I have learned so much these past two years and have made so many cherished memories at retreats and Sync nights. I also have made many godly friends. I hope and pray for the teens in this world; that they may find a place where they can be free to love Jesus and be part of a program like POPYEM where they can express their struggles and learn to deal with them through the love of Jesus Christ and through his word. Prince of Peace is a second home to me, because no matter where I go, I’m always welcomed and loved here. It’s where I can spend time with God and learn more about him. It may seem silly, because you can spend time with God anywhere, even at the mall or in your car, which I also do, but POP is where I can truly connect with him. I hope as I grow older that I may still attend this church, but I know no matter where I go, Jesus is with me, catching me when I fall or teaching me how to fly.
P.S. The following quote was taken from my diary, which expresses the feelings I was going through in those moments of feeling depressed. Although it may seem very cheesy and sentimental, I find it beautiful. I know today that I have found that love, that someone who would die for me. I didn’t find my other half, but rather, found my completion through Jesus Christ. He is that someone who loves me unconditionally and looks past my mistakes. Whether I’m a sinner or saint, he will always love me and you, not because we deserve it, but because he is love.