Thursday, March 26, 2009

30til30: Day 30

I have 30 days until I turn 30, so I thought I'd try to choose 30 moments that have helped shape who I am and want to be. Coming up with the list has been challenging...and enlightening. These final few ARE in a particular order.

30: My 17th Surprise Birthday Party.
Thirteen years ago, my friends threw me a surprise party for my 17th birthday and I found Jesus there.

For most of my junior year in high school, I ran with a bunch of Christians. I didn't realize it. I just thought they were hilarious and awesome. For some reason, there were a lot of Christians in the drama club and choir, too, so it was inevitable. As the year went by, things kept unfolding that opened my eyes more and more to what was around me.

Looking back on it, I can see everything unfolding and leading me straight to that birthday party. I had injured my knee earlier in the year playing basketball and we played basketball at the party (yeah, this is how smart we were). I re-injured my knee (I found out soon after that it was a torn ACL). I can't explain the pain, but to this day I haven't felt anything worse. I cried through the rest of the party because of it. Everyone felt really bad. I just wanted them to leave so I could scream.

After everyone left, I laid on Jamie's floor and completely lost it. While she cleaned up, I was alone in her living room thinking about Jesus of all things. I started to get really angry because I didn't understand why anyone would love a God who just let's things happen. I wanted to cut the strings that bound my friends by the evil puppet master.

I was supposed to sleep at her house, but I asked her to take me home because the pain was too much to bear. In the car, I just got more and more God. I remember with perfect clarity the rage I felt inside of me. I hopped into a quiet, dark house: my family was already sleeping.

I went into my room and started throwing things around and screaming. I think I wanted my parents to wake up (they didn't: in fact, I asked my mom the next day and she said she didn't hear anything). I was getting even more angry and I started yelling at God out loud. I remember every word I said. I've never come close to matching the anger I felt that night.

This is the part where a lot of you are going to think I'm insane.

I sat on my bed and put my hands on my knee. It hurt so bad, and I suddenly didn't know why I was so angry. I started to focus on the pain in my knee and I asked God to make it stop. I have no idea why I did that. I just did. Here's the thing: it stopped. I remember specifically that it got really hot and then the pain was gone. The only feeling left was the tightness of the joint. It still felt the same, minus the pain. (This was so real that I didn't have knee surgery until two years later...for a torn ACL and meniscus.)

I started crying uncontrollably. I was so ashamed of myself for everything I had been angry over. The prevailing emotion, however, was fear. I was terrified of what just happened. Then, I said this:

"I need you."

Immediately, the tears stopped and a wave of peace swept over me. I felt comforted and secure. I laid there, content to just be still.

The next day, I woke up and I was never the same again. I've never looked back.

What I'm not:
  • Crazy.
  • Naive.
  • Intolerant.
  • Ignorant.
  • Relying on a crutch to get through life.
  • Unloving.
  • Hypocritical.
  • Better than someone who isn't a Christian.
What I try to be:
  • Loving
  • Joyful
  • Peaceful
  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Good
  • Faithful
  • Gentle
  • Self-controlled
I can't comprehend where my life would be without Jesus. I wouldn't want it any other way.


Matt & Kristin said...

What a beautiful story! Praise God!! Happy Birthday!

Chris said...

WOAH... What a great story! God is awesome! Happy birthday!

j*amy said...

i never knew this story. you write so brought tears to my eyes. you're so amazing!

rachel said...

I don't know that I knew all these details, so amazing, and so wonderful. thank you for sharing!

Kristie said...

I've enjoyed your whole series and feel horrible I didn't get around to comment until today. I'm sad it's over. Today's story was awesome is our God!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Danielle. Enjoy being 30, the 30's are really when you come into your own and know who you are and who your not and don't care (okay not until the late 30's) what others think about it.

Enjoyed your countdown.


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading this series! It's making me think about my own defining moments and Happy Birthday!!
In light of this last title, I have to had 17 surprise birthday parties?!

just kidding...

the Jennings secede from the South said...

Your life is a beautiful testimony to God's love & grace! Thanks for sharing and happy birthday!

jimmy said...

Awesome story! Thanks for sharing and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Anonymous said...

Great series Danielle, enjoyed reading your countdown