Written by: Calisa Henry
I would say the thing that shaped me the most growing up was the community of people who helped raise me. From a young age those around me instilled values of right and wrong within me. All of the “Now I lay me…” nightly prayers with my mom before bed and the “Keep us safe as we travel” prayers before leaving the house with my grandfather taught me to always keep God at the center of my life and to trust and turn to Him in every situation. These values that mark the beginning of my walk with God still lie at the center of my relationship with Him today.
Growing up, church was always a big part of my life. I have always loved going to church because church was where my friends were and where I was comfortable with everyone around. While there are many experiences and examples of how church has shaped me, there was one point that I can remember that had the most impact on developing my relationship with God.
During my early teenage years I was an active member of the youth group at my church. This time period was the most active I can ever remember my youth group being. We went to every conference, revival, youth rally, and church camp we could possibly fit into our lives. We all had a strong passion for worship and we were constantly building each other up. While life eventually got in the way and this time period came to an end, I still look back on this time and consider it an important part of how my spiritual life has developed. Even now I look back on this time as an inspiration and use the songs we used to sing during worship as a way to guide my time spent with God. While this youth group community was influential to my spiritual journey, another important part has been figuring out how to navigate my spiritual life on my own.
Leaving home to go to boarding school and then college is really when I had to figure out how to navigate my spirituality on my own. Until this point church was always naturally scheduled into my week and some form of spending time with God was always a part of my daily routine. When I left home I realized that fitting these things into my schedule is much more difficult than I ever realized before. It took me about a year to get back to where I wanted to be with consistently going to church, but it has taken me even longer to get back into spending quality time with God through worship and prayer time. The transition wasn't easy and I think little reminders from my childhood and early teenage years are what encouraged me to keep nurturing my faith.
I’ve learned that a relationship with God is about more than just showing up to church on Sundays and Wednesdays.
It’s about more than saying a rehearsed prayer before going to bed. It’s about more than rejoicing when you see God working. It’s about deeper things. It’s about spending time thanking God for what He’s already done. It’s about thanking Him for things you believe He is going to do. It’s about reaching out for Him in the hard times and relying on Him to help get you back to where you want to be. It may not happen in a moment, but it’s about the journey. It’s about shaping and nurturing a relationship by spending time praising and worshipping Him.
I am thankful to have been raised by such a strong community of believers who taught me about God from a young age, but I’m even more thankful for getting to experience what it’s like to build up a relationship with Him and find His goodness in the world.
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