As a child I always wanted to win. I couldn’t understand that people could play a game without wanting to win. As a teenager I didn’t understand how people could end a discussion, without clarity over who had won, because only when you win, you gain something. When you win, you count. When you win, you get recognition. That’s how I lived when I was a young adult. I married an honest man, got children and lived my life as a winner.
Nevertheless Annette felt like a loser. She had everything she could wish for, but it didn’t fulfil her. ‘I had everything, but it wasn’t good enough. I wanted perfection, but I couldn’t reach it. It was always further away than I thought. I often thought that if I would reach that one thing, everything would be all right and I would be happy. But when it seemed that I would be able to grab it, it appeared to be just out of reach. I didn’t feel fulfilled, and I had a long list of failures and disappointments. I felt cornered by life and blamed everyone. I became very bitter.
Annette found herself on the ruins of her life. It didn’t show on the outside, but on the inside she felt empty, lonely and dead. ‘The only thing I knew is that I wanted rest. Rest from the endless struggle for perfection. I didn’t want to live anymore.’ She had a husband, beautiful children and the riches of a western home, but she was as poor as Job. ‘That’s not true. Job had a God he trusted. I was even poorer, because I had no one.’ She had heard much about the God of the Bible. She always went to church as a child and as a young teenager she decided that she wanted to belong to God forever. ‘But it was a far away God, a righteous, punishing God and I was never good enough. I was always afraid that God was angry with me, or at least disappointed. I didn’t know the God that Job worshipped and even held accountable. I didn’t know the God who became Man, because He didn’t want people to get lost and live without His love forever. No, I didn’t know that God.’
Just like Paul from the New Testament, she was raised with the Bible. She knew more about the Bible than many other Christians. She was part of a church and she had made a decision for God when she was only 15 years old. She could be confident about her position as a Christian. ‘But everything that I had achieved, didn’t help me much at all. To the contrary: My knowledge and my self-confidence got in the way of me really finding God.’
But without her being aware of it, God was holding her. ‘I met people who did know God’s love. They were real images of Jesus. They showed me how much God loves people. They were able to show me a little bit of Gods compassion and His searching heart. Slowly my heart melted and I understood that God loves me the way I am. I learned to accept His grace.
I didn’t any longer feel the need to win. I could rest from my struggle to find acknowledgement. I understood that God was the only One who could end my loneliness and that He could give me peace.
‘I read the Gospel of John with new eyes and a new hart. It was like Jesus was standing next to me. His words penetrated my heart deeply. The whole Bible spoke about God’s love, everywhere I read about God’s desire to love people. I read about God’s desire to know me. Me personally. He wanted me to be His child.’
Annette made a decision. ‘I saw all my achievements and victories for what they were: nothing at all. I threw them overboard and came to God with empty hands. I prayed: ‘Lord, could You please fill my empty hands? Could You please fill my empty life? Do You want to teach me what love is? Do you want to teach me what it is to live as a real winner?’ For the first time in my life I felt I had won something really important. I had lost my love for perfection, but I had won Jesus’ company. I had lost myself, but God had found me. And He made me a winner, through Jesus, who loves me so much!’
‘You can also share in the victory over loneliness, hurt, pain, anger and even death. God is ready to fill your empty hands and your unfulfilled life. There’s nothing He wants more than to give His love to you. He really wants you to be victorious. Not because of everything you can do yourself, because no matter how hard you try, that will never be enough. But Jesus has concurred everything. Join His side, and you’ll join the winning party.’
My life before
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