My name is Elaine Schultz. I grew up in a tiny town called Manton Michigan. I’m The newest member of NOTN. This is part of my story that I haven’t ever really put out for the public, and this is my second blog post ever, so bear with me.
When I get anxious, or stressed out in any way, I need to create with my hands. Art, music, writing. You name it I do it (not very well in most cases) when I need a release. God gave me that passion through trial and error of stress relief tactics. Creating has been the only constructive one. As my struggles progressed my tactics go worse and worse. From bottling it all up, to destroying my body in almost every way possible. And it’s amazing to me that when I surrendered my life to Jesus completely it just started flowing freely. All of a sudden something I’ve had raw talent at and did when I was in the mood, became my greatest triumph over sin and struggle.
And let me be the first to tell you. I’ve messed up. My sins and struggles if actually kept track of would probably fill more volumes than a National Geographic encyclopedia set. The biggest of those struggles being cutting. Yupp. Cutting. It evolved from many issues like broken relationships, and lack of self-confidence. And during my ten year struggle with this demon that attached itself to me, I learned a lot of things. Like that no matter how much I tried telling my mom I wasn’t suicidal, she always saw my scars as a sad failed attempt to end this beautiful life God has given me. Or that you won’t stop unless you really actually want to. And for nine of those ten years I never wanted to.
Not while working at summer camp.
Not after Jesus found me.
Not even after making my best friends very upset on multiple occasions because they wanted me to stop.
There are many references in the bible about calling out to the Lord in your struggle and he will save you. The one that really speaks to me being Psalms 107:10-16.
10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
Bottom line is that before January of 2015 I didn’t feel like calling out. But when I did my whole view on this whole Christianity thing changed.
Growing up I had always known the presence of God. I grew up going to church, but it was a church that was based more on the religion side than the grace side. I grew up thinking that I had to be a good person and do good works for God to love me. Boy was I wrong. The first time I went to summer camp I learned the truth, and it just clicked. I believed it. I then officially gave my heart to Christ two years later. I still tried to do everything by my own. I played Christian, and had passion for kingdom work. But had some very real and scary struggles I was hiding from the world. I got older and the struggles were still there, but at the same time my realization that my self-harm habits were extremely unhealthy and inhibiting me from going deeper in the very relationship I was craving. That still wasn’t enough to get me to stop.
Then one of my close friends called me by surprise one night, and this phone call changed forever the way I looked at my addiction, guilty pleasure and biggest secret. I hadn’t told him all that I had done that night because I knew he would probably cry, but I knew by the silence on the end of the line when I answered with a shaky hello that he already had been. We stayed up until 4a.m. working through it together at one point we were both so overwhelmed by what Jesus was doing in both of our lives we just spent 15 minutes bawling uncontrollably.
This was the turning point. The healing I needed, and in that moment I was so raw and open that I had no choice but to handle my gut wrenching addiction over to God, and the healing process began. Just over a year later I’m fully healed of my addiction and I have never been more committed to my relationship with Christ.
Like the entire rest of the world, he’s turned my brokenness and despair into beauty. Kind of like the art that now flows freely from my hands when I get stressed out. He started with something that to the world was just something untouchable and made it into a cherished master piece. Everyone seems to forget its beginnings as humble and raw. The creator never forgets the journey either.
Currently I am a freshman at Grace Bible College. I am studying youth ministry with a camping emphasis, so my plan with that is to work at camps for the rest of my life. My life isn’t perfect, and sometimes I still struggle with thoughts that would lead me back into that dark place, and it is only by the grace of God that I have had the strength. I am redeemed and forgiven. My life revolves around that. Nothing can stand in my way because I have the creator of the universe on my side.