A Masterpiece

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Hi friends. I’m Annie Rohde and today I get to share a little about how Jesus has totally wrecked my way of thinking – for the better, of course. 😊

Let me give you a little background on who I am first. I’ve been married to Philip for 5 years, and we have two little boys. Brooks is three and Jude is one.

I grew up in York, Nebraska, with my parents and younger brother. I went to Sunday school, but I didn’t know anything about how a relationship with Jesus was life-changing.

Being in control of how I am perceived has defined my life. For those of you who have taken the test, I’m an Enneagram 3. At the core of it all, I just want to be liked. It sounds so petty, but the desire to be liked snakes back through my whole life.

Every year York County holds a Spelling Bee. In third grade, I was an alternate for the bee so didn’t get to participate. But my mom & I practiced so hard that even as alternate, I sat in the crowd and spelled every word. If I would have competed, I would have placed and won a ribbon.

In 4th grade, I won the competition.

In 5th grade, I won the district competition, beating out all the 6th graders.

Being the winner earned me a lot of applause.

In 4th grade, I got put in the “dumb kid” group for math because I couldn’t do my multiplication tables fast enough. I worked so hard on math that two years later I was chosen for the advanced math class in 6th grade.

Being smart meant teachers liked me better.

A simple seed was planted: People like me if I’m good at things . . . if I’m successful.

In 8th grade we had to decide what we wanted to be, and I decided right then to be a pediatrician. I liked kids and was good at math and science, so why not? (Great reason to become a doctor, guys.)

In high school it was a little harder to figure out “who to be” in order to be liked. Teachers liked smart kids, classmates liked fun people, and I tried to chameleon between the two. While still in high school, I got my certified nurse aide license as soon as I could and started working in the nursing home, and then the hospital. I got straight A’s in math and science and pretty much A’s in everything else.

I received a full-ride scholarship to college to study biology/health sciences. Basically, I could study whatever it would take to be successful at my goal of becoming a pediatrician.

However, in my freshman year of college, because of my desire to be liked and my newly found freedom, I made a lot of poor decisions. I didn’t want to just be a smart kid anymore. I wanted to rebel and create a newer, better image regardless of how true it was to the authentic me. That included rebelling against God and deciding that I wasn’t going to believe in Him anymore.

This lifestyle crescendoed in April of my freshman year when I was a passenger in a rollover accident after a night of drinking. I had emergency surgery to wire my jaw shut because my face had three fractures: one below my eye, and two on my jaw.

I felt like my secret was out . . . now everyone knew I actually wasn’t a good person and I was unlikable. I felt such deep shame for letting down the core people who actually liked me for me–my parents, my teachers, my friends. I had thoughts that maybe it would be better if I had died in that accident, and I was stuck without hope since I had decided God wasn’t real. I remember one of my closest friends gave me a Bible verse bracelet shortly after and I rolled my eyes.

Yet, miraculously, less than two months later, in May of 2010, Jesus met me. It’s really such a remarkably beautiful story.

I was looking for a summer job and thought to apply at a church camp I had gone to a few times when I was younger. It’s definitely divine intervention I actually got there because at one point, before the summer had started, I was thinking “I can just pretend to be a Christian all summer.  I don’t have to truly believe.” Well, less than a week into the summer, before campers even showed up, Jesus found me.

He met me at the foot of a cross, out in a field–His creation, under a full moon surrounded by a rainbow. I’ve looked it up and I guess it’s called a lunar corona. I’ve never seen one before or after, but it’s ingrained in my head.

I can’t remember the prayer I cried out or the thoughts I was thinking, but I remember the tears and the confirmation that I was alive for a reason. I bought myself a Bible at Walmart a few days later and decided I would read it and see if it was true. I’m convinced that “the word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12

I met my husband the same summer I met Jesus, and I quickly knew that he was one I wanted to be with then, and actually THE ONE for life. Lofty statement for an 18-year-old . . .

After that summer, I went back to college and kept at my goals sure that, because I wanted to be a pediatrician to help people, and especially now that I was a Christian, God would pave the way. I got above average grades, got an above average score on the MCAT. I went all the way to March of my senior year of college sure I would be going to med school. Except . . . I didn’t get in.

I was rejected. The med schools didn’t like me.

I was so angry at God. Why was He not giving me the desires of my heart? (because His ways are higher, better.)

Look at all the sacrifices I had made – not drinking anymore, reading my Bible, being a good human! (I desire mercy not sacrifice)

What is my purpose, if not what I had believed for 8 years?

I went back to what I knew. I buckled down like I had with the spelling bee and math. I improved my MCAT score, volunteered more, spent more time in the medical arena. And the next March, the same news. I didn’t get in.

Again. I was rejected. They still didn’t like me.

So I tried a new route. I decided to get my masters in maternal and child health with the plan to go to med school after getting that degree.

I was so wrapped up in looking successful to others and looking like I had achieved my dreams, that I hadn’t even thought that dreams could change, or about what I really wanted to do, or what God could have for me to do.

While I was still in the Masters program, and two years into our marriage, Brooks was born. I was able to stay home–thanks to student loans (that I’ll be paying forever!) and a few part-time gigs.

It was when I became a mom that God began to heal my heart, first by showing me the depths of my sin –

selfishness,

lack of patience,

anger

– they all started showing up in full force during that first year of parenthood.

It was around then, that Philip and I began to dig our roots into this church, thank goodness. I decided to trust Bryan Clark and make the leap to try to believe that the Bible was true in all its mystery. Teri Effle and I studied the book of Galatians.

I began to realize who I was in Christ:

a masterpiece,

chosen,

well-liked . . . loved!

And some of the desire to get others to like me fell away.

When I was finishing up my Master’s, I felt God calling me to work part-time so that I could be home with Brooks as much as possible.

And He opened up the perfect position.

I started working for a local ministry called Parent Life that equips and supports local teen parents, honoring their choice for life and helping them to know Jesus. I get to walk beside them, through the same stage that opened up the depths of my sin, and show them the Light.

It’s been over 5 years since I didn’t get into med school. I still am slightly embarrassed to admit I was rejected. But I can’t even picture who I would be if I would have been accepted.

God has shown me my passions and opened my eyes to how I can use them in His kingdom.

He reminds me time and time again that I don’t need the approval of man.

His Word affirms to me that the way others perceive me doesn’t matter in light of eternity: It’s who I truly am and who God says I am that matters.

“For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

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