Anna Merkle is a very happy, free, and fun girl. But apparently that was not always the case. She used to struggle with worrying too much about what people think about her. It was really affecting her happiness. She recounts how this changed for her.
“I used to think ‘What do they think about me? They probably don’t like me,’ etc. I would be afraid of how people would react when I did things. I wanted them to approve of me. Even in simple things, like an Instagram post, for example.”
A new mindset
One day at church, Anna heard a message that really made her sit up and take notice.
“The youth leader said that our calling as Christians is to have an extremely happy life. He read from Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” Although Anna had heard this message many times before, for the first time she really realized how it applied to her life. She had been looking at things all wrong; her happiness wasn’t dependent on other people at all. If she loved God, then there was nothing to fear from what others thought of her. God always had her best in mind, and all things would work together for good!
“What other people think of me has no meaning in my life. There is so much wasted time in thoughts like that; it can actually be very self-centered.” Anna made the decision that she was going to start living her life for God alone. She started to read in the Bible and Christian literature as much as possible. “Jesus became my friend, and I could really trust Him, rely on Him.”
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25.
An individual in God
“I began to realize that it’s super important that you have your own personality, and you live your life for God. People are different – they dress differently, they act differently. God wants me to be an individual in Him. That’s something so big for me. God has a plan for all of us. When I realized that, I came to understand that He created me according to His plan for me and my life, and that He can use me just the way I am!
“For example, I’m not really good at sports, and it’s easy to think that I should be, because lots of others my age are. But I do like music and media. It’s about finding your place and using what God has given you to be a blessing. Because God has given that to me, and He created me this way, so why should I worry about something like sports?”
Anna decided that she wanted to be the kind of person who was always in a good mood. Not superficially, but deep down, a true and lasting joy. She knew that was only to be found in living her life for God. And she found that in living for God she is also able to be a blessing and do good for the others.
Nothing can steal my joy!
“It’s just awesome how God works; He has already done a miracle in me. I’ve changed a lot from who I was. I can be happy all the time. Nothing can steal my joy!”
She is still tempted to worry about what others think; tempted to seek honor from people instead of honor from God. But now she fights against it and doesn’t allow it to have power over her or influence her.
“Not to give in, that’s a good motto to have. And that is really my goal. I often think of the verse in Isaiah 40:31: ‘but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.’ We always have a connection to God through our prayers, and we can always get strength. When situations come where I’m tempted to worry about what people think, the first thing I do is pray, then I get power to come through the situation. You have to pray and believe.
“It’s true joy! I’m not faking it, I’m really happy! Right now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life!” She is no longer a slave to fear of man.
“I once heard someone say, ‘Maybe you are the only Bible that people around you are reading,’” she concludes. Her goal is to be this “walking, talking Bible.” That through her life, everyone around her can see what it means to have a life with Jesus.