My Story | Age 16

I’ve alluded to my personal story in previous posts, but I wanted to take the next several weeks and share with you in detail the struggles, trials, and triumphs of the last 5 years! I want to take September & part of October to reflect on all God has shown me through these valleys and mountaintops.Story1

At 16, I was almost a year into my chronic headaches. I was a year into those beginning feelings of loss. Loss of health. Loss of physical ability. Loss of capability. Loss of confidence. To this day, I’m not certain whether or not I needed to feel those emotions, but I did and they hurt.

Moving from a physically-able body to a chronically-pained one proved to be a difficult process. I internalized the struggle and fought vainly to overcome it. I spent so much time in pain that I barely made room for anything else. In effect, I worshiped my pain.


In the summer of 2012, I worked in Leadership Live at Ironwood Christian Camp — a program for teens to learn about the ministry and apply that same knowledge to actual labor. I also grew up at this camp, but that is a story for another time.

Anyway, I worked 6 weeks with 10 other girls, crammed into a tiny room, while serving in the camp kitchen! Surprisingly, I loved it. But my pain remained deep and perplexing.

I had only just started going to doctor appointments, which meant testing several different pain medications. However, the strong meds only worsened my body, shadowed my mood, and even tampered with my cognitive abilities. The depth of my physical pain taunted me with thoughts of death. I truly believed that I would not make it to adulthood.

Still, I worked that summer and made life-changing decisions even as I clung to the pain. A close friendship blossomed with two people who also participated in the Leadership Live program. Both confided in me, sharing life stories much darker and harder than my own. Pain was, indeed, everywhere.

I grew closer to God, even while feeling like I teetered on the edge of death. My young heart faltered between trust and encompassing fear. The latter gained the upper hand in September when my two summer best friends lied, betrayed, and abandoned me. A loss deeper than the worst bouts of physical pain overwhelmed me. Hollowness invaded my life, and I became further lost in my own world. Death seemed closer than my 18th birthday as loneliness marched in and pounded me every morning in the beginning of my senior year.

However, as I battled myself, a light crept in … an assurance that God would choose the right time for me to be with Him. Nothing comforted me more. I didn’t have to fear imminent death, hang up my dreams, or avoid joy in my life. I could trust God with the end, and just live in the glorious middle He had given me.

So much in my life became beautiful, and the smallest moments felt so sweet. I had life. The abandonment of my friends still stung and stayed long … but I lived. My end was known to God. My fear of it vanished. Hope poured through every broken shard of my heart and God showed me this beautifully-woven and pieced-together work of art … the life He’d given me.

It was time to live it.

Still Living,

Sierra Straightforward


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