“I thought I’d been brainwashed by Christianity and wanted to explore what the world offered. I was still suicidal, dealing with my anxiety through bulimia and cutting. When my parents told me that they were praying for me, I asked them to give up. I wasn’t sure I believed in God anymore.” – AnnaChristen Scoggin
“I believed the lie that God messed up when He made me – like I was a big ‘oops’ who was not loved,” said AnnaChristen Scoggin. “When others noticed the Duane retraction syndrome that made my left eye unable move in full range of motion, I was made fun of and called cross-eyed. I was mortified by feeling different, and thought my left eye made me look weird and ugly.
“My parents are faithful believers in Christ, and they told me all the time that God didn’t make a mistake when He designed me – that I was His beautiful creation. My family was very close, and they raised me in church. As a kid, I remember hearing the story of Doubting Thomas, and Jesus telling him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’ I knew I could believe in Jesus, and I trusted Him at an early age.
“As I got older, I continued to hate the way I looked and started cutting myself and suffering from tremendous anxiety and depression. I sought my identity in performance: straight A’s, competitive gymnastics, and being the perfect daughter. But, I lacked confidence and often struggled to connect with people my age. Broken and full of shame, I started seeing counselors and taking antidepressants because I was suicidal.
“I thought I’d been brainwashed by Christianity and wanted to explore what the world offered. I went to the University of Alabama, where I could be a little fish in a big pond. I continued to seek affirmation from the people around me, excelling in school and partying. I was in and out of an abusive relationship, and I manipulated and used men to fill the void in my life. I was still suicidal, dealing with my anxiety through bulimia and cutting. When my parents told me that they were praying for me, I asked them to give up. I wasn’t sure I believed in God anymore.
“Right before I graduated, the guy I’d been living with broke up with me. When that relationship ended, I lost a lot of friends, and it became clear just how dark and chaotic my life had become. Soon after graduation from nursing school, I remember lying in bed, in tears, and saying, ‘God, I have been running from You, and You have won.’ I was the Prodigal Son, fleeing from the Lord as He relentlessly chased after me. That night God opened my eyes to the love He had for me. I knew He had been with me all along.
“At 22 years old, I finally started crawling my way back to life in Christ. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that God was not angry or eager to punish me. Just like the Prodigal Son’s father, the Lord had been waiting for my return, and was ready to pour out more blessings on my life than I could even hold. It wasn’t an overnight change. I still wrestled with an eating disorder and seeking affirmation from men. I lived with one foot in the church and one foot in the world for a while. I knew what I was choosing on Saturday nights was wrong and it felt gross to live a lie of sin beneath my smiling face on Sunday mornings. I was miserable trying to meet needs on my own that only Christ could fill. The mound of shame was growing so great that I knew if anyone asked how I was really doing I would surely shatter into pieces.
“The Lord connected me with a friend I finally felt comfortable enough with to tell about my eating disorder. I was not struck by lightning when I opened up about my sin and struggles, and the more I confessed, the easier it got. I was concerned that my battle with bulimia would disqualify me from going to the Kanakuk Institute, but I was encouraged to call the director and tell her about it anyway. I was amazed she asked me to come up to Kanakuk despite my brokenness. In my time there, I learned about the freedom that comes when I’m transparent with the Lord and community. I also met some leaders from Watermark when they came to speak. I felt drawn to Dallas, so I could continue the trajectory I was on with the Lord.
“Some of my old patterns returned when I moved, so I went through Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, re:generation, to find healing. That’s where the pieces came together in my walk with Christ. I started to believe that God could use every part of my life for His glory. My identity is not in how I look, my performance, or the pain of my past; my identity is in Jesus now. I still have to fight the lies that God didn’t mess up when He made me, but God continues to give me Truth I can cling to.
“Life in Christ is so freeing. The more I experience His goodness and faithfulness, and the more I am loved and accepted by the community God has placed around me, the easier it is to share my story without shame. That’s just one of the countless blessings of knowing I’m loved by my Creator!”