Hey Friends! My name is Bella Fornuto and I am a sophomore at Berry College. I play soccer, I’m an RA for just about the best hall of freshman girls ever, and a Young Life leader at the greatest high school in Rome, GA. THE Rome High School. (Go Wolves.) I have very little idea about what I want to do with my life but a few things that I enjoy would be: coffee, dark chocolate, the outdoors (when it’s not below 60 degrees), thrifting, Latin America and oh yeah, Jesus. I like Him a lot too. So if you can put a future together for me that involves those few things – LET ME KNOW. For the sake of this blog post though, you should probably also know that I love spending time with people more than anything. I once took an introvert/ extrovert test that ranged from 1 to 10, 10 being the most extroverted and 1 being the least, and got a 12. No lie. Still not sure how that happened but hey, that’s me.
So, as someone who loves people and is involved in many different areas that require me to lead and support people, I have often struggled with a certain misconception. And that misconception happens to be that I have to “have it all together” to have a positive influence on others, which is something that I always strive to do. This misconception hit me really hard a couple weeks ago. Coming back from Christmas Break was definitely a challenge, as everyone knows. I went from endless hours of Netflix and lounging with family to being thrown right into the busy life of a Berry College student. Challenging classes, sitting duty, trying to make time to work out and maybe even eat a meal or two. On top of all of that, I was struggling to find time to spend with the Lord and was really in a place where I was constantly crying out to Him and not hearing much back. I was overwhelmed but tried my best to hide the obvious.
I think what overwhelmed me the most about my stress level and busy schedule was the fact that I felt like others were relying on me to help them get their lives together when I couldn’t seem to get a hold of my own.
Friday came and I was tired. I felt weak and drained from a week spent trying to pull it together and put on an act for people. I came back to my room after class for my afternoon break and couldn’t hold it together anymore. I cried out to God alone in my room, (yeah, imagine how weird that would have been if someone walked in) asking Him to show me that He still cared for me and would revive the joy and peace that is so abundant for those living in Christ.
And just like He always does, God did not let me go on any longer without hearing from Him. That weekend was the Young Life leader weekend and to be honest I was not all that excited about it. I tried to act like I was but sometimes the reality of knowing God is going to do something in your heart is scary. And that’s exactly how Satan wants you to feel!! Man, he’s the worst. He never wants us to experience the freedom available in Christ.
The first night of the retreat though, God got ahold of my heart real quick. He allowed Eric Faison (shout out to Auburn YL – War Dang?) to speak the truth into my life that I so desperately needed. He spoke out of Mark 2 when Jesus was eating dinner at Matthew’s house with tax collectors and sinners.
“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors they asked his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.’” Mark 2: 15-17
He shared with us that just as Jesus loved sinners, we ought to do the same. We need to love broken people because Jesus loved us. Jesus loved me. A broken person. A girl more concerned about her grades and her summer job than her relationship with a God who sent His son to die on the cross for her. A girl who struggles with self-image and finding her identity in the things she can do rather in who her loving Father created her to be. We don’t need to try and “get our lives together” to impact people. Really and truly, who wants advice from someone who acts like they have it all together? Certainly not me! I want advice from someone just as broken and hopeless without Jesus as I am.
What God has been teaching me is that I need to be more real with people because that is what hurting people need. They need genuine people, who love them and are not afraid to share their own struggles and trials in order to help others rise out of their own. He’s also teaching me that I need to cut myself some slack because I am not perfect but God loves to use our imperfections.
Imagine how different our campuses would be if people spoke more about their brokenness and redemption by a Savior who loves them, than acting like they have it all together? Wouldn’t we struggle less with comparison? Wouldn’t we form more genuine and lasting friendships?
Join me, a girl who messes up more than she succeeds every day, in loving other people, who I think it’s safe to say also mess up sometimes.
Let’s remember to accept forgiveness and use our stories to let God get the glory.