So we had our second meeting for the mission trip on Sunday, and part of the meeting was sharing testimonies. Guess who got to go second? Yep, this introvert. So I thought I would write up my story for you guys who may not know.
My parents divorced when I was 4, so growing up it was just me and my mom, with weekend-long visits to Dad every two weeks. Both parents took me to church every week, and Mom made sure I did all the appropriate church weekday activities like GA’s (it’s like AWANA, but with less structure) and VBS and youth group. I guess some of it sunk in, because I was baptized when I was 8.
When I was a senior in high school, I got a job at Sonic so I could save up money for college. This job frequently required me to work Sundays and Wednesdays, so I basically stopped going to church and youth group. What I didn’t realize was that these church activities were the only thing keeping me “on track;” once they stopped, I stopped reading my Bible, praying, and even attempting to do all the things that a good little Christian girl should do (sarcasm alert: doing those things doesn’t actually make you a Christian). I wasn’t even trying to have a relationship with Jesus. I just didn’t care anymore.
Mom and I had a rough relationship when I was younger. She tried her hardest, but she and I have completely different personalities and interests, and when you’re a kid you’re WAY less understanding of those differences. (Plus, I was a little twit when I was a pre-teen/teenager.) As a result of some miscommunication, she asked me to move out after I graduated high school. So, I moved in with my dad and worked in the family restaurant all summer. I was pretty angry with my mom, and I held on to bitterness for a long time.
Everything changed my freshman year of college. I just happened to join a freshman organization where I just happened to meet the guy who would later become like a brother to me, who just happened to attend a prayer group and the weekly Navigators meeting and just happened to invite me. Why did I go? I don’t even know. But I went. And it was weird.
Seriously, these people were crazy. I mean, they prayed out loud. They loved Scripture. They told people about Jesus without shame. They welcomed me into their groups. They liked me for just being me. They genuinely loved God, and you could tell he was an important part of their daily lives. The people in the Navs and in the prayer group made me realize that I didn’t actually have a relationship with God; what I had was religion. I was so caught up in doing the right stuff, saying the right things, and being the right kind of person that I totally missed the whole point of being a Christian, which is to love God above all else and love people more than you love yourself.
I think the turning point was when I realized that I needed to forgive my mom and ask forgiveness in return. Ever since that phone call, God has been “blowing up,” as my little brother says, in my life. He’s taught me so many things (see the series on Self Lies for the big lessons I’ve learned so far) and brought me through so many trials. It’s not like things changed overnight, but I’ve been slowly learning more and more what having a relationship with Christ means, for realzies this time.