I’m not who I was before DTS, I’ve changed.
I did my DTS in the fall of 2016, right after I graduated high school. I started following Jesus around the age of eight, and it deeply changed my priorities in life. The more I learned about Jesus, the more I was slowly compelled to believe that he was not only God, but that he loves me, and I can love him back. I’ve been told stories of when I was a kid of how I would get away from everyone and go out in my backyard or at the playground. When someone would question what I was doing, I would answer them, “I was talking to God”. I believe my childhood and younger years were marked with a closeness with God and a general understanding of who he is, mainly believing that God is a loving God. Jesus transformed my life.
I’m not who I was before DTS, I’ve changed.
Throughout my life, and when I was in school, I was known as being the quiet kid who my teachers and parents loved, and it was generally expected I would do the right things and get my work done. To my peers, I was relatively distant and reserved, sometimes shy, and I think my friends and class saw me as a quiet guy who didn’t care or was just very reserved and in my head a lot. I wasn’t like this because I’m an introvert and like my space or alone time, or because I was a shy guy and just needed time to grow out of it. It wasn’t something anyone could necessarily see about me externally or observe about me, even my close friends probably didn’t know what I was going through. It wasn’t an issue of my personality or preferences, it was an issue of my heart. I had a heart condition called fear of man.
It wasn’t an issue of my personality or preferences, it was an issue of my heart. I had a heart condition called fear of man.
Fear of man is when you believe the opinions and thoughts of others mean more than God’s opinions and thoughts. It looks like asking yourself questions like these: What will they think about me if I say this? Will they like the way I dress? Can I do this and not be noticed or stand out from the crowd? Who’s watching me right now and what are they thinking? My life was controlled by me trying to not stand out or be noticed so I would be accepted by others. The opinions of others, or what I thought were the opinions of others, affected most parts of my life including how I dressed and who I hung out with. My desire to fit in came from a much deeper desire to belong.
Even though fear of man had a grip on my life, God Is bigger than fear, and he had freedom in store for me. When I came to my DTS, even though I was excited to be there, I brought with me my fear of man and even in a Christian atmosphere where people truly cared about me, I still struggled with it.
During my DTS, we talked about identity one week. The focus was on who we are biblically, and it was extremely impactful for me. I was starting to learn that my worth wasn’t in the opinions of man, but my worth is found in what my Creator says about me. If that’s true then I don’t have to live in fear of what others think or be held captive by their opinions. I had been a Christian for years but I was just starting to understand what it meant to be made in the image of God. I am valuable to him and I have a purpose. I’m unique and no one else is like me. With this in mind I began to see I can have freedom from fear of man. During that week there was an application time where two staff members prayed for me and heard from the Lord who He created me to be. The guys that were with me felt like the Lord was showing them that a stronghold in my life was fear of man and that I can break it off in prayer. So, I went to spend time with the Lord and I felt like I was different, like something monumental just happened in my struggle against fear.
I had been a Christian for years but I was just starting to understand what it meant to be made in the image of God.
At times I’m still tempted to live in fear of what others think about me. One way I’m different now is when those temptations come for me to fear, I don’t have to give in to them. I have been set free from fear and now I live my life in fullness and joy, no longer burdened by my fears. I constantly battled fear of man until I realized that God is bigger than my fears, what he says about me matters. This truth changed my life and I’m no longer the same.
– Collin, September 2016 DTS