New Life (3) Testimony — Joyce

New Life (3) Testimony — Joyce

Hi everyone, today I’m going to be sharing my experience taking New Life bible study!

I decided to take this class because I thought it was what I should do. I completed Living Life in 2018 and New Life is the next bible study, so I took it. In hindsight, I probably could have thought more about timing and planned to be more organized before signing up and starting – I didn’t take into account that I’d be juggling work, school, and bible study, so it’d be challenging to balance. But I’m really glad that I just decided to take it.

Before taking this class, one thing that always bothered me in the back of my mind was the lack of change in me as a Christian. After getting baptized or confirmed, we expect to become a whole different person. But after my confirmation, I was still the same. This was an expected and obvious result because I was living the same lifestyle with the same mindset. I knew there needed to be some kind of change both internally with my thoughts and externally through my actions, but I chose to suppress this knowledge and conviction and just keep moving forward as I was, mainly because I thought it was so hard to live as the ideal Christian and felt like there was an expectation to give up a lot of things. I naturally convinced myself that it’s okay; I believe that Jesus died for my sins and I accept Jesus as God, so I’m saved – that’s the core of my faith and determines my salvation. Which is true. But I had a wake up call during bible study – it was the deep understanding that the biggest adjustment we need to make in our lives in order to live a new life as a Jesus follower is our value system (or perspective). And I was like shoot, just had to call me out. Now I really have to do something about it… It really hit close to home because I knew I was pursuing a life that aligned with my value system: enjoying life, having fun, having a stable career, being prosperous. It all sounds amazing and everyone wants this, right? These things in and of themselves are not bad or wrong and because I knew they weren’t, I convinced myself to not feel guilty for wanting and striving for them. But it was through bible study that I realized the root of where I did go wrong and this was hearing about how Satan convinces us to cling to these very normal and natural things as the most important things in life. These things are not bad to value or pursue but he twists these good things and instills fear in us to make us become obsessed and controlling, to try to live our lives our way – and that is exactly what I had been doing. My intentions were good: “I want to enjoy the good and comfortable things in life”, “I want to accomplish many things”, “I want to be able to take care of my family”, but when they become your everything, that’s when it’s a problem. I finally acknowledged that I had that problem. I was chasing only these things and they were controlling my every thought, action, feeling, and intention. I was living a life where I didn’t choose God and every day, I lived according to what I wanted and my plans. I was chasing my definition of happiness, which was established by what our society and I deemed acceptable and admirable. Because I wanted to achieve this life according to that standard, God and His standards were not a priority (like at all). I had tunnel vision and focused on doing everything I could to ensure that I was taking the right steps to be able to eventually create this ideal life for myself. This was with regards to all aspects of my life – work, school, social life. So you can see: issue confirmed.

I learned that there’s two parts to this: first is culture. My thoughts and behaviours were heavily influenced by the culture that I’ve naturally assimilated into – you know, the culture that commends nonstop grinding, excessive freedom, and associates success with possessions and reputation. I’m very easily swayed by these things, so I felt convicted when I read the message “Our loyalty must be to God even when it conflicts with our culture”. This has always been so hard for me to do. The second is a result of culture, which is fears and worries – about not doing enough, not being enough, and not having enough. For example, I was always stressing so much about the future and my performance at work. My mind was consumed with both of these – worldly desires and anxieties. When I finally acknowledged that there is a spiritual condition at the root of my attitude and perspective, I identified that I was in the middle of a spiritual battle. These were all strategically planned and planted by Satan, cultivated through the deception and culture he created.

We were taught that the solution to resist the worldly value system that influences us is starting by giving up the small things that we hold onto. I realized that for me, that’s FOMO. Not necessarily in the social aspect but more of fear of missing out on the good things in life on this Earth. It’s hard to overlook this because it’s a desire, lifestyle, feeling – it’s so deeply ingrained into me that it’s hard to break its hold. But I am more conscientious of the priority I place on these things and feel more of its weight now. Knowing the severity of how I’m lead by these values was the wake up call I needed to take it more seriously and re-evaluate my priorities. What I took away from this long reflection and lesson is that I need to be alert when I begin to idolize worldly values and when they control me because I’m so weak and susceptible to this attack. I also have to be willing to accept a reality check – it literally took me years to finally acknowledge it and take responsibility for my faith because I didn’t want to deal with it and change. Finally, to turn to God for the strength to change my perspective because it’s so tempting to just overlook the issue at hand and continue to live the way I want. So, I know I can’t do it on my own but on my part, I just have to be cautious of the spiritual battle I’m in, be willing to change my wrong value system, and partner with God for Him to lead me. This is the peace that God has left with me after New Life.

Honestly – I shared this on the last day of bible study, and I’m not sure if it was the answer Pastor Caleb was expecting but – I’m nervous. I don’t have the confidence to transform my life and change my value system, which is why I know it’s a journey I need to be on with God. There’s no doubt that I’m going to get sidetracked in my day-to-day life and pulled back into my old ways and mindset. But I believe it’s all part of the process. It’s training my mind and heart to desire what really matters, so that I can live life by the spirit instead of the flesh and become more of who I was created to be. Thank you.