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Perfectionist Finds Peace with Christian Faith

Emily longed for approval and acceptance and as a college student she dabbled in false religions. Read Transcript


I was the kind of person who would

rather be in a lower level of class and get an A

than be in a higher level of class and get a B,

because I couldn't handle the idea of not being the smartest

kid in the room.

NARRATOR: Emily Armstrong usually

was the smartest kid in the room.

She was labeled gifted in the third grade, which

she says trapped her between two extremes.

How that affected me was, I did vacillate

between thinking I was fantastic and then

having tremendous anxiety when I didn't live up

to my own expectations.

NARRATOR: Emily says the pressure

she felt was self-imposed.

I think as a measure of value.

How valuable am I to society?

How valuable am I to the people around me?

I have to be this way.

So that I will be loved and appreciated and cared for.

NARRATOR: Out of those beliefs grew a need

for academic perfection.

By high school Emily also craved some kind of framework

for life, and explored religion.

She discovered the Baha'i faith in college,

which fit into her view of how things should be.

The idea of having a one-world order

a one-world universal language, one-world religion

and one-world government, it seemed perfect.

NARRATOR: But trying to keep all the rules showed her

she wasn't perfect.

The longer I was a Baha'i, I found out,

oh apparently we're supposed to do ceremonial hand-washing.

We're supposed to be doing ablutions.

I don't know how to do that.

And particularly when Aaron came along,

the whole chastity thing went out the window.

And that was another thing I wasn't good at.

I tried to keep this idea in my head that, you know,

I was this awesome, smart, amazing person,

and that wasn't lining up with reality.

And that was starting to be really hard for me.

NARRATOR: Emily felt like a failure,

so she gave up on Baha'i, and moved in with Aaron.

I just wanted to be with my boyfriend

and have fun in college, and I just

wanted to not care anymore about being perfect.

I wasn't interested in anything to do with religion,

or God, or spirituality.

NARRATOR: A few years later, a friend

invited them to a Christian discussion group called Alpha.

They went solely for the free food.

After those 10 weeks we went, well, that's great for them.

Good for you guys.

Thank you for sharing.

NARRATOR: Still, the course made Emily think about eternity.

I was starting to get the concept of Jesus' sacrifice

and what that means, and the idea that, no, I'm actually not

good enough to get into heaven on my own.

NARRATOR: Aaron got nothing out of the course,

but wanted to poke holes in his Christian friends' beliefs,

so he bought a Bible.

The Jesus that I saw there was nothing

like any sort of caricature that I'd seen in any sort of media--

a very passionate individual, a very authoritative individual.

Is this guy telling the truth and if so what

does that actually mean for me?

NARRATOR: Emily decided to read it, too.

Because he was doing it, I thought, OK. well we

could talk about it together.

It will be a fun intellectual exercise.

NARRATOR: It was then they both noticed some strange things

starting to happen.

I would get hang-up call, after hang-up call,

after hang-up call.

I would start to see shadows in the corner of my eye,

as if someone was there and had just moved out of view,

and I was starting to really be concerned

about my mental health.

NARRATOR: Over the next few weeks it got worse.

Aaron heard voices.

You're not his.

He won't save you.

You're ours-- that kind of thing.

I'd wake up actually with scratches in places

that I couldn't have made them.

NARRATOR: They were afraid but didn't know what to do.

One night something woke them both.

It was like there was a thick blanket of evil in the room.

He was half up off the bed, and it really did look like someone

was lifting him up.

I actually felt myself fall down into my bed.

NARRATOR: --Which terrified them.

Emily decided to pray for more than a rescue.

That's when I really started thinking

about what we had learned in Alpha,

and the things in the Bible, what the Bible says about-- you

can't get out of this on your own.

I need Jesus, because I can't be the awesome person

that I thought that I could be.

I realized that I was a sinner, and there

was no way I was going to get to heaven on my own.

And then I waited to see what Aaron would do.

It was a very, very long 12 seconds.

And it really was this moment where I had to, had to admit,

OK, Jesus, you are who you say you are.

You are God.

You are the creator of this universe.

You are the ruler of this universe.

I have been in rebellion against you,

and I need to repent of that, and forgive me for that,

and please save me from all of this.

And he did save me.

And that feeling lifted from me, that feeling of oppression.

NARRATOR: Emily and Aaron soon found a church,

got counseling from the pastor, and months later, married.

10 years and 3 children later, they're

grateful that God showed them who he really is,

and that only he can be perfect.

So ultimately the thing that he has given me that I most needed

is redemption and adoption into his family.

And that is huge for me.

I have a piece that I didn't have before,

and, and I know what is true.

I think that because I know that Christ is who he says he is,

it makes the rest of the world make sense.

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