My name is Iman K., and I joined CYT Sacramento during classes for Thoroughly Modern Millie, winter of 2015. I actually didn’t enjoy that experience at all because I had a hard time fitting in, especially at the stage of life I was going through. I quit midway through the session and told my mom that I was never going back because I obviously didn’t belong anywhere. A few months passed, and when I found out that the spring show was Tarzan (my favorite Disney movie), I couldn’t bring myself to pass it up. So, I trained for a few months before going back and auditioning, during which I felt more than a little awkward. To my amazement, I was called back, and ended up being cast as the Leopard, something that I was incredibly excited about. Between the casting and the read through, though, there was a really rough day.
A little bit of background, up until that point I’d struggled with a lot of things in my life that had just seemed to be completely crumbling, the death of a family member, the loss of a friend, a shaky relationship with my father, and some serious self hate. I had been cutting and carving and bruising myself for over a year and was majorly struggling with an eating disorder, my diet consisting of about 3 almonds a day. I was seeing more doctors than I would’ve liked to be, and had been on medication for an embarrassing length of time. I hated myself and my body, and everything I thought was just self deprecating. I had grown up in a Christian home with Christian parents but was at a place where I was more angry and doubtful about God than anything. So many things in my life just seemed to be unravelling, and I was seriously considering ending my life to permanently remove the pain I’d been suffering for years..
So back to this rough day, I was at school on a Thursday, and my mind just started wandering. I remember sitting in the bathroom with a stolen blade and performing the usual “ritual”. When I walked out of the bathroom, something hit me: CYT’s code of conduct about self respect and treating your body as a temple. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I would be kicked out of the show and the one place where I could do what I loved would be closed off to me, so I texted my mom and asked her to call Wendy Hoover, the director for that show. She texted back to say that Mrs. Hoover wasn’t picking up, and I had this period of dread as I waited and waited for an answer. I got another text from my mom telling me to pray through it, and my immediate reaction was an eye roll. But for some reason, this time, I listened to her. I bowed my head and closed my eyes and whisper yelled at God in the middle of my English classroom, asking him to take away this feeling.
I can’t really explain what happened next, and I guess there’s no way to unless you’ve experienced it yourself, but I felt literal weight being lifted off me. My entire body felt lighter, and that anxiety came to an abrupt stop. I was able to get through the rest of the day, and when the final bell rang and I left for my car, I silently accepted the fact that I had blown my chance and would do better next time.
I climbed into the car and immediately asked if Mrs. Hoover had replied, which she had. My mom smiled as she told me that Mrs. Hoover was not only going to let me continue the show, but hoped that CYT would be a place where I could fit in and find a second family. I cried the whole way home with relief, but mostly because no one in all my years had showed me mercy in that way. I seriously rethought my generalizations about people and that everyone would give me grief because I was “such a bad Christian”.
Fast forward a couple weeks, I was actively participating in rehearsals and had made more great friends in that time than I probably had in a full couple years. I was able to slowly peel myself from my corner of seclusion and enter into a world that I didn’t know existed. I met people who loved me for the right reasons, and through that was able to better understand the Lord’s everlasting love for me. I’m 16 now, and since then I haven’t hurt myself once or gone a day without eating. I’ve also been slowly weaning off of my medication and have overall been a more joyful person. My spiritual gift actually completely shifted to mercy, and I sought out to pull other people from the dark hole that I had been buried in for over half my life by doing the little things that I would’ve needed in that time. My life has been so worth living, and even though I still have my mountains and valleys, I have a companion by my side the whole way. The honor and the glory go to Jesus Christ, the one who saved me from the clutches of death.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
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DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner.