My faith was brought on by the steadfast love of our Lord and the joy He began to fill my heart with every day. The consistent labors of a close friend planted the seed of Jesus’ love in my heart, which has grown into a faith I can’t believe I once lived without.
She would spend lunch with me each day teaching me who Jesus was and what He did for me, and for all of us! I was clueless. I didn’t know the difference between God and Jesus, let alone the significance of their actions. My dear friend Lauren patiently answered all my questions and expressed the deep and unconditional love that the Lord has for me.
I was brought up in a home full of love and opportunity, which I am incredibly thankful for. I never went through a dreadful struggle or life-changing challenge that brought me to a breaking point in desperate need of the Lord’s intervention. This was one of my greatest fears when considering the true possibility that there is a God in heaven: the fear He would test me.
Most of the testimonies I had heard were people coming to the Lord through heart-wrenching troubles, and I didn’t have anything or anyone I was willing to lose. It was a terrifying thought, and this fear held me back from opening my heart and mind. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a friend who cared so deeply for my soul. Lauren surprised me with my first Bible after weeks of discussions, and she had even highlighted her favorite chapters and verses!
The following summer when I went to Europe with my sister, I brought my new unopened Bible with me. I vividly remember getting it out on one of our first long train rides and finding a bright orange mark over the book of Esther. That was where I started! Like I said, I had no previous knowledge or experience reading God’s word, but it didn’t seem to matter. It was unexplainably amazing. That simple yet HUGE decision to open my Bible brought light to my eyes and joy to my heart! I didn’t yet understand the meaning behind the words, but my heart and mind had been opened; I was experiencing 1 Peter 1:8:
You love Him, even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
I knew at that moment, all Lauren had shared was true, that God’s words, His love, grace, and mercy are true! My heart had been enlightened. There was a sense of excitement, love, joy, and peace all at the same time. Wanting to know more, to understand and apply God’s word in my life, I continued to read, which soon led to attending church and even Bible studies.
Jesus began to fill the voids I had in life, mostly through contentment. Before Jesus, I had an appreciation for adventure and materials. Those seemingly innocent appreciations turned into idols and my sense of identification. Expecting so much from what I thought would bring me happiness, I was filled with disappointment and longing. In this new season of life, Jesus is overflowing the emptiness I had been unsuccessfully filling with my own understanding of sustainable happiness. Showing me over and over that He knows me much better than I thought I knew myself, and that His plan is far greater than mine could ever be. In doing so, Jesus gave me the contentment and purpose I had been craving. I came to realize that God’s primary purpose was not to test me, but to fill me with love. I didn’t need to “lose something or someone,” I needed to give myself up and earnestly seek Him. To empty myself so He could fill me back up as the woman He created me to be.
Two years have passed and I am no expert in listening to God and following His will, but I continue to grow from a root established in the Lord. Knowing that He is my foundation, I can be confident that I am growing in the right direction. My relationship and ability to listen and obey Him gets easier and more natural with each passing day that I continue to follow Jesus. With an overwhelming sense of joy, I have prayed and pondered how to spread His great word, just as Lauren did me. I rested on the idea to start a lifestyle blog centered on joyful living.
West of Felicity is my portal to sharing a lifestyle that is led by Jesus Christ. Sharing His good news as the leading source of joy in my life. Expressing the difference between happiness (fleeting) and joy (everlasting). My lifestyle is made up of many pieces but only led and dependent upon one, God. I find my joy in following Jesus, living life in a way that puts Him first, and hoping to inspire and encourage others to live joyfully too!
West of Felicity is the testimony of my faith. Felicity means intense happiness, symbolizing my life before Jesus. West represents my movement toward God. My journey toward joyful living is described by venturing toward God, turning my fleeting happiness into everlasting joy!
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