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Who do I say that I am?

Dee Tian | Monday, April 23, 2012

I applied to Notre Dame on a whim. But everyday, I thank God that I did.

Why? Because here is where I met my boyfriend of four years.

In high school, I was a wild child. I caused my parents a lot of grief, and didn’t really believe in serious relationships (“Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child was my theme song). That all changed when I met my boyfriend at Domerfest. For the first time in my life, I understood what all those cheesy love songs and silly romantic comedies were about. He made me a better person in so many ways, and I thanked God every day for blessing me with him. His close relationship with his family prompted me to seek reconciliation with mine, his incredible intellect pushed me to work harder in school and he showed me there was more to life than partying every night.

Everything was perfect until junior year. Details aside, our relationship did not weather the doubt, lies and buried issues that surfaced that year. I slowly began to lose interest in things – going out on the weekends, hanging out with friends, and finally and most gravely, “Gyro Day” at the dining hall. I began crying all the time – when I was doing homework, when I was working out. Once, I even burst into tears while taking a Managerial Economics exam. My professor probably just thought I stunk at Economics, which I did. I slipped into a deep depression that threatened to engulf me. And I couldn’t talk to my friends about it, because who would understand? I felt utterly alone.

Who was I without him? My boyfriend was the foundation upon which I had built my life, my goals, my future. If I didn’t know who he was, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I experienced tremendous spiritual doubt and trials during this time. I had been a good girl, for the most part, so how could God stand to see me like this?

Yet through this whole disaster, I felt God’s presence. Hadn’t the Lord been preparing me for this? It was during this time that I received my first Christian literature book. I discovered Christian rock, and listened to it hours at a time. A counselor from my church worked with me, constantly reminding me of God’s love. God was working in my life all along, I just couldn’t see it. He had completely broken me down, only to build me up again, this time with Him as the center of my life.

I grew immensely through this experience. I realized that my boyfriend should not have been my first priority. That seat belonged to my Heavenly Father. Through these months of pain and confusion, the Lord had been the one in which I sought peace. He loved me despite my many imperfections, my doubt and anger and through my broken state. Our God is the only true Rock and source of unconditional love.

So much good has come out of that terrible mess. I became closer with my mom, embracing instead of dismissing her quirks (she bought me an apron that says “Will Cook for Diamonds” for Christmas). I had been humbled and learned to stop being so judgmental of other people’s relationships. I rediscovered how amazing my friends were in their 24/7 “Dee-Watch” filled with cards and cookies. I learned that I could survive on my own, I didn’t need a man. And most importantly, I found God’s love … in this hopeless place.

In the past, I read my Bible and prayed each day, as if checking things off a “to-do” list. Today, I’m on the Notre Dame Encounter Board and have encouraged many of my friends, and successfully pressured a few, into going on the retreat, as it is an incredible spiritual experience. I also write this column in hopes of challenging and encouraging students to explore their spirituality. I’m working on building a personal relationship with God.

I applied to Notre Dame on a whim. But everyday, I thank God that I did. Why? Because here is where I truly found God.

So who do I say that I am? I am a child of God. My faith is the most important value in my life, above all others. Today, I have rebuilt my relationship with my boyfriend, and it’s stronger than ever, because we have both committed to helping one another grow closer to God. My self-worth isn’t based on how many parties I get invited to each weekend, or my academic success or failure, or my romantic relationship. I am whole and complete, solely because I am a child of God. I am desperately loved by the maker of this universe. I am His.

So I ask this of you, who do you say that you are?

Dee Tian is a senior marketing major with minors in philosophy and

anthropology. She can be reached at ytian1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.