I grew up in a non-Christian household, so I never heard God’s Word until coming to Hillcrest Academy in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Coming into an environment where God’s Word was constantly spoken was a challenge for me. Not only was I confused and didn’t fully understand who God was and what it meant to be a Christian, but I also had a lot of bitterness and anger toward God. I had gone through difficulty and adversity that caused me to be very resentful when God was brought up. I was living with my past failures and mistakes and never thought I could be worthy of God’s love or qualified for his kingdom. The great love of God and what he did through Jesus shows us there is grace, redemption, and moving forward.

My identity was constantly changing based on how I felt or who I surrounded myself with. I didn’t know who I was. I was lost, confused, and hurt. The last thing I felt would have been peace. Because my heart was filled with so much bitterness toward God and the circumstances in which he’d placed me, I had hardened my heart to his Word and everything Jesus had to offer me.

It took a lot of time, pain, and frustration, but through the love of the community at Hillcrest, God softened my heart and entered my life. I slowly began to feel God’s peace and know that despite my failures and mistakes, God can use me. Knowing his peace meant understanding that sometimes God allows you to be broken and have things taken away from you so you can see that he is all you need.

Having peace doesn’t necessarily mean feeling it, but it certainly means knowing it. To be at peace is to be complete. I am complete in Christ. I felt at my lowest, but I knew that God was pouring his love and mercy on me and bringing me a knowledge of his peace. Through his peace, I began to accept the fact that I can’t change my past. Our human nature sees truth based on our feelings, which often change; peace that comes from God is based on truth that never changes.

Knowing and accepting that I can’t go back and change the past, but I can move on to redemption and restoration, brought me abundant peace. Not only peace with God, but peace with myself and others. Having peace in our situations is so important because then we know that God is in control, and everything will work out for his plan. During your struggles and hard times, the best thing you can do is allow God into them. God will bring peace to your situation and use all your pain, frustration, heartbreak, and broken pieces for something beautiful.

Now that I have peace with myself and I know God’s peace, I wouldn’t trade any of the moments when I felt lost, broken, confused, fearful, or hurt for an “easy way out.” Because each obstacle I have faced has led me to Christ, and without them, I don’t know where my faith would stand.

Julianne Claney is from Granby, Colorado. She is a senior at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls, MN, where she plays soccer, serves as student body vice-president, and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

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