Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- Hebrews 13:8
In my short 21 years of life, I have walked through joys and sorrows, mountains and valleys, seasons of faith and seasons of doubt. My story is more like a roller coaster than like a steady timeline, but I have come to know the steadfast love and presence of my Savior, and this has been my anchor through the wildest storms - from my early childhood, into the wandering of my high school years, and even now into marriage. His story, I have learned, will always outshine mine.
I was raised in a very welcoming, loving, Christ-seeking home alongside my Mom, Dad, and two younger brothers. We moved a lot in my younger years (9 states before I was 12!) due to my Dad’s job, which I am now so thankful for. The Lord was faithful to instill courage and an outgoing personality in me from a young age, and I think it’s from the constant need to make new friends every time we moved! We moved to Kentucky the summer before I started the 6th grade, and that’s about the time my relationship with the Lord really began. My middle school and high school years were significantly marked by a lack of identity and soul-wandering. Since I didn’t see myself as a daughter of God, I struggled with self-worth and sought love and adoration from anyone who would give it.
I went to church on Sundays and knew the right answers, but I had no clue what it meant to truly LOVE God. I loved the praise I got for being “mature,” or the reputation I had for being a “good listener and advice giver,” but all the while I kept a very dark and secretive life behind the scenes. I loved being a Christian in the light but in the dark I allowed my flesh to take over, causing sin to wreak havoc on my life and my relationships. My sin came in various forms: pride, envy, gossip, deceit, manipulation, lust...the list goes on. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ... - Ephesians 2:4-5 This is the verse I see when I think of the many ways God intervened to make my story more about Him than about me. He was so faithful to consistently provide me with opportunity after opportunity to choose Him over myself. And while at the time His interventions felt more like pain than like grace, I look back now and see nothing but my Father desiring to rescue me by any means necessary. This grace came tangibly in the form of my mom finding secrets on my phone that eventually brought everything else into the light. From there began the slow transition from “my story” to “God’s story”. The transition wasn’t very pretty. I didn’t turn my whole life around all at once, totally cured from temptation or sin. And I certainly didn’t have my faith perfected in one encounter with God. But, once again, I had to learn it wasn’t about my faith or my performance. It was about God’s goodness and faithfulness, His presence over everything else. Over the course of my senior year of high school I really felt a tug to the mission field. I had a small group leader that pulled me aside that winter and suggested to me that I consider taking a gap year to pursue missions and see what the Lord had for me there. It wasn’t long after that I decided!
Just after graduating high school, I began an 8 month adventure in the mission field: Port Kembla, Australia; Kolkata, India; and Papua New Guinea. I could write a completely separate article of the amazing things I saw and experienced in these places, but in short, these extremely impactful seasons of exposure to the mission field (and to the beauty of sharing the Gospel among unreached people groups) completely ruined me for normal. I was forever changed in the best possible way. The Lord completely altered my life trajectory after that. I had thought I would return home and go to college, but my heart was unsettled by the idea of committing to a school for 4 years, and I still had no clue what I would study or what I would do with a degree. I nannied, and then started working at an orthodontist office, and now I’m back to nannying. I’ve been on a journey of finding my new self these past few years and am still figuring it out every day! Mixed into that craziness was my sweet Steven. We met, dated, got engaged, and got married all within 2 years, and it has been the most wonderful adventure. Through all the twists and turns, I remind myself often of the truth that “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The same Jesus that saved me from my wandering is the Jesus that was with me on the other side of the world, and He is the same Jesus that is with me now, helping and guiding me towards a life that is solely focused on serving and loving Him and His children.
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Image: Steven Estes Photo