Bek Ditzenberger (Session 3)

Summit Student Conference Bek Ditzenberger 2016 Colorado Session 3Singapore | 17 years old

Everything changed after I came to Summit. Before I came here I was about ready to give up. I depended on my own strength, but that failed me multiple times. Every time I worked to help myself out — to heal myself from my past — I only became more hurt, and so I looked even more to other ways to cope with my troubles. It became a vicious cycle. I was so done with God, and the more I looked to fix myself, the more I grew to despise him. Actually, I believed with my whole heart once. I loved him so much, to the point where I attempted to glorify him in every area of my life. After some hard things happened, I tried to rely on him more, but I felt so alone, even alone from the One who I thought would give me comfort and strength.

After one difficult event in particular, I decided to give up on God. I remember my exact words, “God, I’m so done. You’re not there; you’re not here for me when I need you most. If you want to come back, fine – but I’m not going to try anymore.” After this, I decided to rely on my own strength. However, my life did not get any better: my anxiety problems only escalated, and my deep pit of hopelessness only grew deeper. I never once looked to God because I was so angry, hurt, and confused. I became my own philosophy, my own religion – I believed that I should love and help others, including myself, but I did not usually live up to that. Whenever I failed, I beat myself up more. It came to the point where I had no respect for myself, and I found my identity in my perseverance through my struggles. I looked to many different things to give me hope, purpose, and peace.

Do you know the feeling when you’re with a huge group of people, but you feel so incredibly alone? That’s how I felt for years, but I never showed it – I kept it all together. As I did things to desperately find hope, I looked like I was just fine. I think some people could see that I was really struggling, though; I suppose my disguise was not as effective as I wanted it to be. Those who were able to see through it were the ones who supported me, and this gave me hope to keep looking for answers. I loved the people in my life, but I could never show my pain. I would try to be vulnerable, but I could never show them how much I was hurting – I was terrified to do so. I continued to live this way for years. My hopelessness and emptiness grew so deep that I could not take it anymore. I would have hours upon hours of anxiety attacks every single day. Not a day went by without me considering ending my life. I could not rely on myself anymore, but I was much too scared to rely on anyone else, after what happened to me. I don’t know how I am alive right now, honestly.

One day, my parents pulled me aside and told me that someone just gave them almost two-thousand dollars for me to go to a place called Summit. The person who gave me this money is an amazing, generous man who teaches me philosophy. He knew a bit about my story, and I knew that he could see right through me. He was that one teacher that I could tell everything to and still feel safe.

This was the first taste of love that I experienced from someone who was a part of Summit. I had no idea just how much I was going to experience there. I decided to go because it was held in my favorite place in the world, and I could not reject someone’s generous offer. The love from this teacher encouraged me to be more open to the possibility that there is a loving God. I tried to be more open from then on. I also met another amazing person back at home who encouraged me in a way no one had before that. I had many issues and a lot of lingering effects, troubles, and confusion based on what I had gone through. My friend’s love and support helped me to work hard to overcome my past, my habits, and ultimately my unforgiving heart to myself and many others. I’m still working on it – I have a long way to go.

Before I knew it, I was on the drive to Summit Student Conference with my grandpa. I was so scared thinking that everyone here had it all together, and I would be the worst sinner, the most messed up person, and the most unworthy to be here. I was tremendously scared that I might discover the truth because I knew I was safe relying on me – there were no real risks, I thought.

As I started Summit, my whole life changed. My perspectives about life changed. I used to be extremely bitter towards God, but through the love of the girls that I got to know, and ultimately the love from two of the staffers, Sam and Caroline, my heart was softened to the idea of God.

The days went by, and I learned so much from the lessons. Before I went to Summit, I was questioning the existence of God, and through the lectures, I became confident that He is real. I also questioned the validity of the Bible, but I became satisfied with the proof that validated the Bible. I came to realize that Jesus is real, and that there is a creator who loves us so much that he died for us, for those who have hurt him. This did not take away my struggles with the fact that the world is so evil, and people are so hurt, but it gave me peace that the Lord is love. Romans 8:28 says, “For God works all things out for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” I was not sure why those things in my past happened to me, I was angry that the friends I made at Summit had also gone through terrible circumstances, and it broke my heart to remember the pain I have seen, such as orphans that are rejected by society.

However, God is love, and God works every pain and every circumstance for good. I was so scared to trust Him because I didn’t want to rely on someone and then end up alone. I did not want to fall back into my old lifestyle, my own philosophies, and depression. I was so scared, but over the last three days at Summit, I recognized and decided that I needed to face my fears.

The speakers talked a lot about overcoming fears, and Caroline and I discussed the specific fears that were holding me back. Caroline helped me figure out what was the root of my pain, and she gave me hope that there was a way to heal.

However, I was so scared to allow myself to heal and give myself to God. The next day, Sam came to me and asked what was really holding me back from God. I spilled out my heart to him, and he encouraged me to overcome my fear, to not let it control me. I knew that the way I have been living is not fulfilling, and I knew that God was real, but I was so scared. I decided to work past my fear. I knew what I had to do. Caroline and Sam stood by me as I committed my life to Christ. Through their support and love, I came to realize that there is always hope. I have never been more scared in my life, but their unconditional love encouraged me to overcome what I had been facing.

Things will never be perfect, and we will always be broken people, but God provides hope, and he provides a fulfilling life with a purpose that matters: to glorify him through spreading his love. Never have I felt so at peace as when I prayed with those two. In the midst of my anxiety problems, I can have peace that God is there. In the midst of our struggles and fears, we can have peace and hope that he loves us. When we all want to do is give up, we can remember that there is so much more ahead of us. When we are beating ourselves up about our past, our mistakes, our imperfection, we can remember that we are special and forever unconditionally loved by the one who created us. Caroline and Sam showed me what real love meant, and that allowed me to see that God is that love. Summit changed my life. I realized just how lost I was before I came here, and I found hope and freedom in God’s love.