Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Testimony Tuesday: Ready for battle

This week's contributor is someone near and dear to me not only because she is blood related, but because we have had the honor of spending lots of time together. You can be related to someone and still not have the ability to share life together, and I have been given the opportunity to see this young lady blossom. She is beautiful, talented and full of wisdom in her youth. Take some time out to read words from actress, singer and writer Bianca Alamo on another week of #TestimonyTuesday. 

Hello and God bless everyone!

My name is Bianca and I am an actress currently studying in New York.  Victoria, who is my cousin and mentor, asked me to share my testimony here about two months ago. As you can see, I've procrastinated until now. I honestly was super hyped about sharing my testimony, but then fear came over me. I am usually open with people and have witnessed to many about my struggles of being a Christian in college and a Christian in the entertainment industry; but the fear that struck me wasn't because I was afraid that a total stranger would read my story, but that the people closest to me would.

 I was home with my dad the other day while on spring break and he asked me if I could act something out for him. I blatantly told him "no" and just went to my room. He followed me and asked, “How are you so comfortable acting for strangers, and not for your own family?” I didn't answer right away. Instead I pondered on it. I've realized that was a big struggle for me. It is easier for me to be more real with strangers or new friends, than to the people who I’m closest to and love most.

So here is my story.

God has blessed me with loving and supportive family, friends and a comfortable life, but somehow, someway depression and anxiety found their way in.

I was born and raised in church in Bridgeport, Conn. I always loved God and sought him from early on. I was known as the little girl who was born with a tumor in her eye that God miraculously healed. I was also the little girl who had asthma and claimed: "In the name of Jesus it's gone," and it was. Because of this, my mother always told me that I was called to heal and it had also been prophesied the Devil knows where and when to attack.
over my life, so I wanted to nothing more than to embrace it. I was so on fire for God, full of love and light. But if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that

I was an only child, but at 11 years old my baby sister was born and she marked the beginning of many changes. Two weeks after her birth, my family and I moved to Kissimmee, Fla. To me, my life was over. I had left my friends and family up north and had to start from scratch. New church, new friends and new everything. I hated it. So naturally I began to rebel.

I rebelled against my parents, telling them I didn't want to go to church or pretty much do anything with them. I wore only black clothes with my hair down and in my face.  I started to read all these books about witches, witchcraft, dark spirits and other paranormal novels. I wrote my own dark stories as well but worst of all, I rejected God. I considered myself Agnostic at times, feeling abandoned and honestly dumb for believing in something I couldn't see.  Needless to say, I opened many doors, which led to my depression and anxiety.

Within the five years of my depression I was introduced to alcohol, I contemplated suicide and I thrived in loneliness. It wasn't until I was 16 years old that I finally managed to break free from my bondage.  God used my cousin Vikki (our lovely blogger) to bring me back to His light. When she moved to Florida, she started to drag me to Bethel Christian Church in Orlando. I was so angry that I didn't want anything to do with God, but because Vikki was my “escape” from my home, I always said yes.

Within the next few years at Bethel I made friends, joined ministries and was finally baptized. God was freeing me from the bondage I was in, but the devil was working on a new strategy to bring me down.

My dream since I was a little girl was to move to New York City at 18 and go to an acting school. God knew my desires and so I went when the opportunity arose.  Financially doors opened and in a matter of four weeks I packed up my life and moved to New York City to pursue my career.

Another big change in my life happened, leaving room for the devil to attack ... again. 

Immediately it was hard for me to go to church on Sundays. I made so many excuses on why I
couldn’t go, and I honestly would feel unworthy to go. I was depressed and wanted nothing more than to give up and go home.  I felt lost and alone. I honestly took this depression as a sign that God didn’t want me in New York City after all.

This time, God spoke through the people around me. I was encouraged and supported by my parents to finish what I had started and even while going through rough patches, people started to see me as an inspiration. This is something I could have never imagined for myself.  People were proud of me, and they were inspired to go out of their comfort zones and pursue their talents and gifts.

When it came to all these great things, I was completely blind-sided to another factor that led to my depression; an unhealthy relationship.  God was not in the center and it made the relationship tense and toxic. Fights accumulated, support dropped and the love just died from one end. In my head I knew what I “wanted” so I figured we could "work things out."  

At this point, I thought I was going into my second year of college stronger than ever. My relationship seemed to have gotten better before I left and I thought I was once again on a path toward righteousness, but God had other plans.  I ended the relationship I was in and then friendships I invested in were broken. There was a deep hole in my heart.  I felt betrayed, alone, unwanted and replaced. I thought I knew which direction my life was going in, but in that moment, it all fell a part. Instead of running toward God, I chose the excuse of “I’m only human” and allowed alcohol to take over.  I turned to drinking with my friends because I was depressed. They told me it was okay, and I listened.  I listened to the silent voice in my head that said, “God will forgive you.”

The worst part about it was at this time I was posting a lot of Bible verses on social media, which made me feel like a hypocrite. I became passive to what I was doing, and I really felt unworthy to be in God’s presence.  So again I had another excuse of why I wasn’t in church. “I’m not right with God.” This is something I would say over and over, and yet I did nothing to change it. I was falling. I thought that this was something God was allowing me to go through, because everyone has to experience this side of college right? Wrong.  I allowed my broken heart to fuel all of my bad decisions. I became bitter, angry and a lukewarm Christian.  So one night at a bar, I was having a couple of drinks with my friends and a guy approached me from my school and asked, “Hey! Aren’t you that Christian girl?”  The conviction that pierced my heart in that moment truly saved me. I remember at that instant taking a cab home and crying. I was mortified.

From that moment on it has truly been a battle. Alcohol has been a temptation, a “go to” for anytime I’ve been sad or depressed. But it is a battle I am fighting and have been winning for almost a year now.  God is working within me and although I am not perfect I will always strive to carry my cross. Once I allowed God to fully enter my heart and to take my struggles in his hands my eyes opened. What I have learned as well is that by being active in fighting against my depression and it’s results, it has made me dig deeper into His word.

Within this past year I have used my testimony to talk to many people about the struggles of peer pressure and being a Christian in college. I learned to listen to God, and instead of fighting the changes he makes in my life, I must say yes, accept and act upon it. Doing that has opened so many
good doors for me, including the opportunity to study abroad last semester. I really learned a lot about myself as well as the world we live in today. I spoke with many of my peers as well as witnessed to locals in different countries about what God has done in my life, and what he can do in theirs.

Like I said previously, God has called me to heal and he has healed me yet again from all my brokenness. Yes, I am again filled with his light and love, but I’m still learning, growing and I know that temptations will always be there. The biggest thing I have learned while faced with my depression and fears is this: I am NOT defined by MY STRUGGLES instead I am DEFINED by my GOD.

Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. – Psalms 144:1

God is readying me for a battle I cannot fathom for a great future I could not imagine.  It is a struggle, and some days are better than others.  He is readying you for a battle. God’s ways are always greater than ours.  He calls the least worthy, the unqualified and the broken. The important thing is to keep fighting, embrace who you are in God
and to go wherever God sends you.

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” – Jeremiah 1:7-8

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12

Bianca Alamo lives in New York City where she is finishing up her last semester at St. John's University in Queens with a degree in Film and Dramatic Arts. She recently returned from a semester abroad where she traversed Europe: Paris, Rome and Seville. Bianca is also a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts of New York City where she studied Theater Arts. You can follow her on Instagram: @BAlamo

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