– Breana Cooney { 2 Corinthians 5:17 } –

Before Jesus, I lived in the bondage of low-self esteem, self-hatred, and years of self-harm. My self-harm manifested itself through the form of an eating disorder. From the time I was 13 to 20 I struggled with exercise addictions and disordered eating patterns. I remember crying anytime I ate something unhealthy, and suffering with immense shame + guilt when it came to food. It ruled my thoughts, my life, and the way I saw myself. I almost always worked out 7 days a week without fail, and was truly hurting my body because of my obsessions. To mend my broken self-esteem, I would place my entire worth and identity into boys. I was boy crazy to say the least. I welcomed any + all attention, even from boys I wasn’t at all interested in. I thought if a boy loved me enough that maybe I could love myself too. The more attention I received, the more worthy I believed I was. As much as I turned to boys to satisfy me, it only left me as empty as before. Along with all of this, when I entered college I began suffering with severe anxiety. I remember calling my mom one day after a bad anxiety attack and begging her to put me on anxiety medication. I was so scared. I cried almost every day my freshman year of college. It was the hardest year of my life.

I had a powerful experience with God my junior year of high school when a friend invited me to church. I remember crying my eyes out forever, and I couldn’t understand why. I left that service not changed, but confident enough that there was something more out there that I couldn’t explain. This encounter with God didn’t change my life right then and there, but it was as seed that God would grow in the years to come. God really began tugging at my heart when I first entered college. I tripped and stumbled into a lot of new sins that first year. I found myself more broken than ever before. I reached this place where I was so desperate for something, anything to change my life. God’s perfect love met me in the depths of my darkest moment at the end of my freshman year of college. I was broken, desperate, and ashamed -searching for anything to heal the wounds of my shattered spirit. I was seeking my worth in all the wrong places. All the things the world convinced me would satisfy, only left me empty-handed and hurt. One day I had enough. I was all alone in my room one night when I begged God “if you’re real, please change my life.” Little did I know that from that moment forward, my life would literally change forever. God accepted me at my weakest, most vulnerable moment, and by His perfect love gave me His strength instead. He took my open invitation, my weary “yes,” my halfway surrender and lifted me from the grave I was living in. He soared me to heights I didn’t think were possible. He brought healing to my scars, to the parts of me I thought were too far gone. He stripped me of my shame, wiped away every tear, and clothed me in new identity. That next school year He placed new Christian friends in my life. I quickly got

plugged into a church and began to hear the Word of God for the first time in my life. Things were changing, chains were being broken. Almost a year into my journey with God, I got baptized. After that is when I would say I became more than just a Christian, but I began to truly follow Jesus whole-heartedly. I discovered the secret place. I began to read + worship + pray to God all alone in my room. I developed a personal, intimate relationship with Him. That is when the gospel became the most personal to me. It wasn’t a person, a church service, or a sermon that changed me. Those things did speak to my heart and plant seeds within me. But what made all the difference in my walk with the Lord is when I began to read the Word of God, alone in my room, and developed a friendship with Jesus.

Every day I now live from a place of freedom! My relationship with Jesus has grown in intimacy with time. When I first surrendered my life, the Lord immediately healed me of my anxiety. It was truly a miracle, and an overnight thing. I remember begging God one day to take away my anxiety. When I was asking God to remove my anxiety, I was focused on that present moment. I could have never guessed that instead God would compassionately heal me all together, but that’s exactly what happened. In my two and half years as a follower of Jesus, the Lord has continued to heal me more and more from my past disordered eating and exercise addiction. As silly as it may sound to anyone else, I truly have such a great relationship with food now, and it continually blows my mind! It’s been such a journey to get to where I am now, but by the grace of God I can proudly say that I no longer fear food. I don’t experience shame when I eat anything that may be considered “unhealthy.” I’ve learned what balance is, and have grown to accept that rest is so necessary to honor my body as the temple that it is.

My struggle with identity has been fully redeemed. God is my one and only source of identity now. I have grown in complete confidence in who I am, because now the only person who has authority over my life is Jesus. God has also completely changed the way I use to view boys, relationships, marriage, and myself. WOW. This part of my heart + mind really gets to me. It’s so hard to express in words what God has done, because truly no one else but God can understand just how much your thoughts, heart, intentions, and just your view of the world, changes. Only you fully understand that because only you have access to your own mind. With all that said, Jesus has stripped me of my boy obsessions and has given me a new understanding of His design for relationships. He has shown me my worth, and taught me that worth can only be found in Him! I once viewed myself as dirty, broken, and unworthy, but now I believe I am pure, holy, healed, and made completely new. The cross has made me white as snow, and I really, truly, completely, totally, and fully believe that! I don’t carry the weight of my mistakes past on my shoulders, because the cross has given me complete freedom! It’s

amazing looking at my journey with God and seeing just how much He has redeemed, renewed, changed, and healed me. He has taken even the worst parts of my life and shined His glory upon them! And this is only the beginning for me. I look forward to a lifetime of growing in greater intimacy with my Father, and being molded to look more like Jesus.

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