The Unseen Story


True Identity

(Listen by clicking the white play button. You can read the transcript of the story below.)

Hi, my name is Andrea. I recently got married. I’ve been working on my master’s degree in communication disorders for the last couple of years. I just graduated and I am going to start my job in June. I love to be outside. I love to go hiking. I love to read. And most of all, I love to spend time in God’s word, understanding who he is, seeking the truth about who he is, and who he wants me to be. And that’s the most important, most important part of my life.

A little bit that we have to know before I talk about my story is what selective mutism is, this is what I had. I just didn’t know it at the time. It’s a combination of communication and an anxiety disorder. It essentially prevents someone from communicating in certain situations or environments or with certain people. So I experienced it as a sort of block in my mind that stopped me from being able to formulate words. The best way that I can describe it is that it felt like a paralyzing fear.

When I experienced a block or moment of selective mutism, I felt so fearful and so anxious that I truly could not formulate words. It wasn’t something that I was actively choosing, like, I don’t want to speak right now. It was that I was paralyzed with fear. And I could not form words. So that’s kind of what selective mutism is and I cannot remember a time in my childhood when I didn’t have that. However, I do have some memory gaps because of the anxiety and fear that I had. But I had it for essentially my whole childhood all the way up until I was 14, which was about 10 to 12 years.

A few examples of how this affected me in my day-to-day life, are that I was unable to order my own food at a restaurant. When I would go to Chick-fil-A where you just go up to the cashier to order I would burst into tears. I wouldn’t be able to get words out then everyone would be staring at me which would add to my anxiety. It was a traumatic experience for me to order food at a restaurant because of this.

Read More

I was deluded about my identity, because I thought my identity was in the way that I acted...I thought that those feelings of fear and anxiety and depression, were a part of me. But that's not at all what it is. My identity was who God intended for me to be. That's who I am. And every day of my life, I try and get closer to that person.

Sign Up for Our Emails

I went to school until second grade when my parents pulled me out and homeschooled me because I couldn’t ask to use the restroom. I peed my pants in second grade. Because I wouldn’t, I couldn’t ask my teacher to allow me to go to the bathroom. So my parents pulled me out and started homeschooling me. I think they wanted to provide better support for me and a better way for me to learn. Because I wasn’t so afraid of my mom, I could talk to my mom. So having her be my teacher was really beneficial for me. And they were able to be really supportive during this time. When I was having these problems, I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had such a supportive family to help me try and overcome these things.

Being at home, while it had those pros, they had some real struggles for us. Because while I could talk to my mom, I couldn’t talk to my dad. For some reason that paralyzing fear overcame me every time, even when I was just in the same room as him. It created a lot of tension between us. My dad is a wonderful man. He just wanted a connection with me. He just wanted to hear how my day was. And I couldn’t get out anything besides good. He thought that I hated him. It was really stressful, and it led to tension in the entire household, not just between me and him.

During this whole season, I didn’t have friends. I didn’t have things that I really loved about life I was pretty lonely, depressed, and anxious because of this lack of interaction with the outside world because of all the fear that I had. Somehow I took on the identity that this was who I was that the fear anxiety and depression were my identity. I believed that nothing was wrong with me and that this was not anything I needed to fix or overcome. It was just who I was. I needed to accept it and continue living in this way.

And that’s how I handled it for years. I was just like, there’s nothing wrong with me. My family would try and come and support me and tell me that they thought there was something wrong and they wanted to help me. And I was like, Nope, this is, this is normal, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear what you have to say, You don’t understand me. And I pushed them away. I mean, I don’t know what they could have done differently. They were so supportive, but I was so delusional about what my identity looked like and who I was.

I had grown up having a relationship with God. But it was pretty superficial. I would talk to God. I would ask him to help me and to take it away and fix me and all sorts of things. But I didn’t, I didn’t trust him to do it, I never really let go, I didn’t actually want him to fix anything. Because like I said, that was my identity. I didn’t actually believe that needed to be fixed. Now I also, ever since I was a kid, I had a heart for younger kids. I’ve always felt that it was God that put that love in that heart for them in me and that God wanted me to work with kids. That God wanted me to pour into them, and to share His love with them. I knew that and I loved them. And I could always communicate with kids, I never had a problem with that.

When I was 14, I had the opportunity to go work at a kid’s camp and do the thing that I love to do the thing that I knew I was called to do and share God’s love and pour into these kids. But, my dad wouldn’t allow me to go, because I would be more of a problem than help. Because he was like, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to talk to your supervisors that are there. I don’t think you’re going to be able to communicate with your other leaders.” He’s like, “It’s great that you’re gonna be able to talk to the kids, but if you can’t communicate with the people that are on your level and with people that are in charge of you, you’re going to be more of a burden than a help.” And he was 100% right.

That came like a punch in the gut. Suddenly, this thing that I thought was a part of my identity and a thing that God had created me with was now getting in the way of something that I knew God wanted me to do. Something I felt God had placed on my heart. I couldn’t figure out why God would give me these two things that clearly couldn’t work together.

And so I prayed, and I asked God, “What is happening? I want to do this thing that you called me to do. But you made me in a way that I can’t. Why would you make me like that? Why would you make me this horrible person that can’t do the things you want me to do?” And I just, I felt in my heart. And I knew while I was praying that God was saying, “I didn’t do that. I did not create you like that. I did not give you all of that fear.” And I thought, “Oh if God didn’t give me this fear. How did it get here?”

This led to an hours-long conversation of prayer and worship time with God, where he essentially told me that I chose it. I had allowed it in. I allowed it so many times that it had become so powerful in my life, that it was more important to me than God himself. And I was like, “Oh crap, I need to fix this.” And I prayed, “I can’t…I can’t fix it. I have this paralyzing fear. It’s paralyzing. I can’t do anything when it comes.” And I just felt God was telling me, “I can take care of that if you will let me. If you’ll give it to me, I can take care of that supernatural paralyzing fear that you have.” So I did. I don’t know how To explain the conversation, worship, and feelings that I felt during this.

It was the most powerful encounter I’ve had with God, I think even to this day, where I felt something different. I felt like I understood a whole new aspect of God. This part of God that wanted to, that actually wanted to help me, He wasn’t just leaving me drowning in all of this anxiety and fear. It was a God who wanted to partner with me. He wanted to take away the paralyzing fear, and he wanted to walk with me to overcome and conquer it. I had never really considered that.

So much of the fear was a choice that I had made, even if it was a choice I made when I was young, and was just continuing to make as I grew older. But it was, it was within my control. And I was the one not allowing God to come in and change me because I was too comfortable with where I was at. So once God was able to help me understand that he wanted to help me, and he wanted to walk with me and partner with me, I came out of that encounter and my whole family will tell you I was a different person.

After that, I was able to, talk to my dad, but not completely, I still had some lingering fear. But if he asked me how my day was, I could tell him a couple of sentences about what my day was like. And that seems small, but it was so powerful and meaningful for both me and my dad. Because that’s the most I’ve ever been able to let him into my life before. So I did end up going to kids’ camp. While I was working at this kids’ camp, I had so much peace.

My experience with God at camp was him teaching me who He was, and who I was. It was a process of spending time with God like I was spending time with a friend. And as I spent more and more time with him, I understood more and more of his characteristics. And I understood more of what He had in store for me. He wanted me to be strong, He wanted me to be bold. He wanted me to be peaceful and calm, patient and loving, just as He is loving and forgiving, and kind. Any good thing really is God. And it’s only something that you can discover with time having a relationship with Him.

So that’s what our encounters at the kids’ camp looked like. It was a relationship in which we were building time we were spending together and learning each other. I learned so much about God’s love and His commitment to us having free will. He would never force even a positive thing such as a deliverance onto an unwilling heart. And that it was something that I had to choose first. And that’s why I needed God. I need to allow God to remove that supernatural part of the disorder. And when I broke down before Him and chose to allow him to work in my heart, He freed me from the paralyzing fear.

After I got back from the camp, there was a lot in my life I wanted to change, but I still had quite a bit of uneasiness and fear. For example, I needed God’s help and support to go order food at the restaurant. He strengthened me to do that and he went with me. I always felt like he was going with me when I faced these fearful things. He helped me to order food. He helped me to go and make friends. He helped me to go on mission trips. I’ve been on a couple of mission trips now and have been able to share what God has done and who He is.

I still didn’t understand why God had allowed me to go through such a traumatic thing when I was so young. But with how much I’ve grown how much I’ve changed, and how much I understand about God’s character now, I would not go back and change it. That moment that I had encountering God, and Him teaching me my real identity, that it was found in Him and not in this fear and depression, is so much more valuable than I could have ever imagined.

Now like I like I said, I’m going to be a speech-language pathologist. A speech-language pathologist is a professional who works hand in hand with a counselor to treat selective mutism. They work to treat all sorts of communication disorders, anything that can impact one person’s ability to speak, or the way that their brain works to communicate. Anything related to that is what a speech-language pathologist can treat. I believe that God led me to this profession, that he gave me these experiences and this passion for helping people to communicate to their greatest potential just as he’s done with me. He’s giving me a heart for wanting to do that, for others to be a part of that transition for them.

I was deluded about my identity, because I thought my identity was in the way that I, at that time, acted. I thought that that was who I was, I thought that those feelings of fear and anxiety and depression, were a part of me, were part of my characteristics. Thinking about it now, I don’t know why I thought that. But that was what my mind had come up with. That was where my identity was, in how I was behaving in my life that was my identity. But that’s not at all what it is. My identity was who God intended for me to be. That’s who I am. And every day of my life, I try and get closer to that person. That person that God is shaping me to be. My identity isn’t in my struggles my problems and my weaknesses. It’s in who God sees me as, what is God’s vision for Andrea? That’s my identity. He had to show me that who I thought I was, who I was finding my identity, was not true. That was not me. He had to show me who I actually was.

More God Stories

Send this to a friend

Hi, this story is AMAZING! Please take a moment to listen: True Identity!