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Winning attention was Jill’s art but that was before she saw the bigger picture

Jill Strickland's Story

I’ve always feared what others thought of me, and my whole life I've compared myself to others. 

Someone was always smarter, funnier, skinnier, more liked, had more friends, a better car, and more money. I normally avoided anything to draw attention to myself, but at least I had one area I excelled in - my artwork.

I’ve always just wanted to fit in and have people like me.

When I was 29, newly engaged, and excited about the next step in my life, my mother died. It ripped my heart out. Then even more tragedy struck and we had to bury my brother-in-law, father-in-law, and two special grandparents.

Missing Joy

After the initial shock, I began the cycle of working to keep myself from having to deal with it. My husband and I opened our own business and I had my art career. We were busy, successful and not slowing down. Amid all my insecurities, I had control in my success as an artist.

A friend invited me to NewSpring in 2007. I loved it instantly, and I attended every week. Whenever an invitation was given, I thought I was good. See, I used to watch church on TV. I read my Bible some. I had prayed "the prayer." I had even gotten baptized at NewSpring and thought I was covered.

But something still wasn't right. The more I attended and the more I watched others worship, the more I wondered why I couldn’t worship like they did. What was I doing wrong? Why didn’t I have the joy?

Truly Secure

Finally, in 2009 I truly met Jesus. I realized I needed to be baptized again, properly, as a believer  -- even though I hated being in front of others and was worried about what others might think. Going public with my faith was one more step towards freedom.

Jesus encouraged me to take the next step to serve as a co-leader of the greeting team. It helped me overcome one of my biggest fears: public speaking. I am continuing to do it thanks to His strength and His working in me. He is showing me I really can do "all things through Christ who strengthens me."

That experience helped me to see that I keep myself closed off. I internalize most everything and don’t open up about my struggles or show any kind of weakness. I keep myself "safe" that way.

Now I know with 100 percent certainty that Jesus loves me unconditionally. To Him, I am His daughter. I am forgiven. I am precious. I am adored. I am beautiful. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

His Purpose, My Peace

Jesus doesn’t want me to be insecure about my weight, appearance, flaws, weaknesses, and mistakes any more than I want my daughter beating herself up with those things. He wants me free.

God designed my body and my personality, and God doesn’t make mistakes. I’m exactly how He made me.

I’ve now switched control of my business and my art from Jill to Jesus. That was hard for me. That’s my area of strength and expertise. I thought I didn't need help, but I did. 

Now, I paint and work on what Jesus tells me. He tells me how to love my husband. He tells me how to love others. He tells me how to parent my child.

I was created for His purpose. There is freedom in having that finally click!

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