I've never had much self-esteem. As a child I watched other kids receive praise and attention for their abilities in athletics, academics, and popularity, among other things that I lacked. I felt worthless in comparison to my peers. The thought never came to me that God was to blame—not until I was a teenager. During my teens I was often made fun of or belittled by my peers. My own parents criticized me for my appearance, my performance in school and many other things. "Disturbed!" and "Where did we go wrong?" are a few that stick out in my mind. I came to see myself as ugly, stupid and a bad person...someone whom even God himself didn't like. I was often alone and fell into habits of self-harm and even contemplated suicide.
I did manage to somehow graduate from high school and am lucky to have been able to hold jobs since (I am now almost 21). Even so, my self-image was built upon a pretty unstable foundation that only seemed to get worse as the years went by. I found myself angry at God for making such a failure of me. "Why?" I often asked him. "How could you do this to me?" "Am I a joke to you?" "Are you really so unfeeling that you can just let me feel this pain?" I prayed for answers, but felt like I wasn't getting any. It seemed God had not only let me down but left me alone in my despair.
One day I was wrestling with my thoughts, trying to make some sense of it all. Suddenly my mind drifted so that I was in the sky looking down at the earth. Physically, I knew I couldn’t possibly have left the room, yet I could even see clouds far beneath me. Mountains and landscape for miles were within my vision. I didn't know why my thoughts had drifted like this but I just went along with it anyway. I thought about how I was normally terrified of heights! It seemed quite unusual for me to feel no fear in this situation. Then I realized why I was not afraid. I had no reason to fear because I was not actually floating—I was being held onto by Jesus!
I remember that when I realized I was with Jesus, I just felt shocked that he was there, but I also knew that he wouldn't let me fall down to the earth and die. Jesus responded to my thoughts and spoke to me saying: "If I would not let you down in this situation, then why would I in any other part of your life?" From him I could sense that he loved me and that he truly wanted to help me, and not because he had something to gain from me. At the same time I could also feel that he was serious about wanting me to trust him, to let go of my self-pity and doubts in him. My negative thoughts about myself were holding me back, not only spiritually, but also from progressing in matters in my everyday life.
The mental scenario then ended. I sat there, reflecting on what had just happened. I wasn't sure what to make of it...had I just had a vision? Such a thing seemed like something that would happen to some mighty king or prophet; it seemed too unreal to have happened to someone ordinary like me, too miraculous...and yet in my own pessimism, could I have really thought of such wisdom on my own? To this day, I'm still not sure what happened but I try to remember the words the Savior said to me.
Looking back on the experience now, I believe God has plans for me. I still have to choose to trust his words and exercise my own faith in him. It isn't always easy, but it's better than the alternative. While this experience was brief, it has caused me to see myself and other people differently. I learned that despite anything I've done in the past, Jesus still won't give up on me and that he is still watching out for me even if I have lost sight of him.
I also know now that the Lord sees us differently than the people of the world see us and that I, myself, do not know them as he does. I am now trying to be more careful about my thoughts toward others. No matter how worthless or insignificant anybody thinks you are, they do not know you as God knows you. He didn't make a failure of me and he didn't even abandon me in my weakness.
I now have a testimony that Jesus is aware of each one of us and is involved in our lives, trying to guide us to a divinely appointed mission. I'm so grateful to have had this experience. Along with new knowledge, it gives me hope and strength I wouldn't have had otherwise. Each time I look back on it, I long for it to happen again, to be in the presence of Jesus: my teacher, my rescuer, my best friend—the one who will never let me down!