Hi, I'm Jenna - it's so nice to meet you!
Growing up in a little marine town in the state of Washington, I had the best childhood a girl could ask for - a big back yard and garden to play in, cats and dogs to cuddle, tons of books and dolls to grow my imagination with, a big family that loved me, and a free and gentle spirit. This was the true me - a daughter of God who loved to help others and wanted to be a teacher "when I grew up". I was without a care in the world and I loved my parents fiercely. My dad was the anchor of my world and I looked forward to him coming home from every sailing trip.
But then I grew up.
My world got flipped upside down as the enemy started to make a home in me. I was bullied in middle school by girls who didn’t even know me and eventually I would eat lunch in the bathroom if my closest friend wasn’t at school. The bullying led to insecurity which followed me into high school. I grasped at anything that made me feel special. I started lashing out at my parents for no reason and my grades were steadily declining. I wasn’t happy and I couldn’t figure out why. My parents loved me but it was like I was living in a fog - consumed by the enemy that longed to take away my happiness and innocence.
I turned to other things like boyfriends and clothes and makeup but it wasn’t enough to fully make me happy. Maybe if I look like her or act like this, I will find happiness. But I was caught in a deep hole that consumed me the more I tried to find value in materialistic things. Another tragic event happened that tipped me over the edge - my lifelong friend passed away in an accident before we even graduated high school. I was so worn down and I became so helpless that I even resorted to cutting to make myself feel better. I had no idea why I thought that was something I should do, but I did it anyway.
I was bitter, rude, and full of loss. I had lost sight of that happy little girl. I’m sure I could’ve kept going down this road of insecurity and depression but God fiercely intervened:
He had a different story for me.
I still remember the first night one of my friends asked if I was a Christian. I didn’t know how to respond. I believed there was a God out there, but I just wasn’t good enough to receive it. He took me to a worship night at a local youth group for high schoolers and that was when my life changed forever. I still remember the speaker talking about love, grace, and redemption and how we don’t have to live tirelessly searching for happiness - God was the source of everything in our lives if we only turn around and accept it. I was an absolute wreck that night. I tried to fight it but the tears flowed down my cheeks as I claimed God over my life. I remember going home and writing everything the pastor said in my little journal because I wanted to always remember it.
I was never the same after that night. I’ve had ups and downs but I’ve never gone back to that person that I was in high school. I don’t recognize her - nobody did. I am wonderfully and fearfully made and I’ve become that innocent little child of God I once was, free, full of joy, and willing to love others again. It wasn’t until I learned to love who God made me to be that I could pour that overflowing love into other people and start helping them instead of tearing them down.
I’ve become a preschool teacher just like I wanted to be when I was little. I’ve developed meaningful relationships with my friends and family. I’ve learned to trust again after the loss of my friend. I don’t have hate and spite for others or for myself. And can tell you today that God WILL completely transform your life.
I know it’s scary to let go of what you’ve been doing because it’s "easy" or comfortable. But God has bigger plans for you and wants you to know that you are a precious ruby and beloved daughter of a Savior. And He’s never letting go of us. Ever.