I have found that I am often very fearful to share my story. Not because I am afraid of what people might think of me or because I have been through a lot of difficult situations, but because my “Testimony” is pretty simple. I didn’t have this big “Aha” lightbulb moment or some major crisis that brought me to Jesus like some people. My beginning with Jesus was straightforward, it’s been my journey with my faith that is my testimony.
I grew up in a Christian home, with my little sister and my parents who are still married (going on 22 years whooo). We were actively involved in a church, participating in Sunday school, Bible studies, and good news clubs. That was all I knew growing up. When I was 4 we took a vacation to my grandparents' house in California and I vividly remember the night. We were playing the game of “Life” and afterwards as we were heading to bed, somehow the topic of “Hell” came up. My mom was explaining to me what the Bible said about it and I matter of factly said that I didn’t want to go there and wanted to be with Jesus forever. In that moment my mom walked me through a simple prayer and over the next week helped me memorize John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
It was the first verse I ever memorized and still know today. It was my favorite growing up, even though it is one of the most referenced verses, it reminds me that God is my Heavenly Father and He loves ME enough to send His son. He loves ME enough to sacrifice Himself and He wants ME to be with Him forever, and as a little girl that was all I needed.
A few years after that night as I started to understand my decision to follow Christ more and more I declared to the world that I was a believer by being baptized. I wanted everyone to know that I was committed to serving the Lord for the rest of my life. Being a young girl at that time it seemed like such an easy thing to do and I had no doubt that I would be able to live it out.
Fast forward to Jr. High, my family had moved across an ocean, which to me seemed like the end of the world. As time went on after the move, I began struggling in my relationship with God. I couldn’t understand why, if He truly loved me, why He would make me move across an ocean to a place where I struggled to find friends and feel included and loved.
Jr. High is such a crucial time in figuring out who you are and is the beginning of most girls starting to feel super self-conscious and insecure, and I was no different. I tried youth group and felt totally left out by all of the girls there and just could not find a place where I fit between church, school, and sports. As time went on I strayed further and further from God, I only talked to Him when I needed Him, I didn’t read my Bible for months on end, I searched for love in all the wrong places, and at my lowest I had no desire to even still be alive. I lived that way for years until one night when God put an individual in my life that would show me what Christ’s love looked like all over again.
This individual’s name was Lauren. I met her on a service project that I had heard about through some acquaintances and my Mom suggested I go. Throughout that entire night Lauren came and talked to me, asked me about myself, what I loved, what my hobbies were, and eventually why I didn’t go to the youth group at the church she was interning at. I explained and answered all her questions, and by the end of the night she had my phone number and continued to intentionally build a relationship with me outside of her job. She would text me throughout the week just checking in, she would take me for lunch and coffee dates. As our relationship grew she constantly kept pushing me back toward Christ, reminding me how much I was worth to Him and how much He loved me. Slowly but surely, I started to read my Bible again, I started praying again and I started to remember why I chose to follow Jesus the first time.
I eventually ended up re-dedicating myself to Him and always turning to Him even at my lowest, all thanks to one individual who decided to be intentional in showing me love through her actions.
I am who I am today because of what God did through her. I serve in my church, leading small groups and worship on the weekends, as well as making it a daily priority to have a quiet time. It is because of Lauren’s intentionality in my life and her own relationship with Christ that I use my own experiences and struggles for God’s glory. My life is a story of redemption, grace, and love. I believe wholeheartedly that there is never a place so deep that the Lord won’t reach us. He works in mysterious ways and is always after our hearts. He wants us so badly to spend forever with Him and in my case, His way of bringing me back was by sending me my sweet Lauren, and I am so thankful that not once, but twice I was able to change my life forever.
My story may not be what I think it should be, but it is absolutely what God’s story for my life is supposed to be. I am so excited to continue in my faith through the ups and downs because I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God who will love me even when I turn my back on him.
Want to know more about a relationship with God? CLICK HERE
Image: Aly Weeks Photography