A few months back I applied for a job that asked for “a statement of your personal Christian experience–Please focus on your relationship with Christ in 700 words or less”. The organization ended up not hiring for the full-time position and picked someone local to do the job part-time (First time I’ve really gone after a position that didn’t work out…#bummer #pridecheck #itallworkedout). I’m posting this because 1: I took the time to write the thing for the application so I might as well do SOMETHING with it and 2: We can learn about God’s love for us through the testimonies of others (online, in person, or otherwise)! Anyways…Here’s the “Faith Story”:
My mom says I became a Christian when I was 3 during Sunday School. I can name 5 different times in elementary school when I “asked Jesus into my heart”. The fact that I don’t have a Saved On Date used to freak me out. My church got a new pastor when I was in 4th grade. Every time a baby was born in our church, he would pray that it would know Christ at such an early age that it wouldn’t even remember a day it didn’t love Jesus. That was comforting-because that was me (: .
Growing up I was blessed with amazing youth leaders that loved us, taught solid Biblical truths, and cultivated servant leadership. In high school I learned the most about God on two Mexico missions trips where I saw how small we are and how God is alive. Back then I struggled with food and staying small enough for cheerleading. Service days and service trips with church were my favorite, and I didn’t understand why my family wrote checks to organizations that helped the poor but didn’t often branch out of the white, middle-class bubble. My parents were divorced, remarried to each other, and divorced again in middle and high school. The family issues caused my faith to become stronger. I went to college knowing what I believed and with a desire to know God more.
Looking back, college is blur. I learned the value of sharing life and what community looks like. One of the HIGHLIGHTS was on a spring break mission’s trip when a girl I lead in Bible Study became a Christian! There were periods of doubt too. Like the time I went on a Europe study abroad. I was the only Christian and was exposed to so many belief systems through travel and other students–many were from other cultures themselves. I questioned God a lot that summer and into my senior year. (Well, it wasn’t so much that I questioned Him. I was essentially ignoring Him. God still taught me about himself that year–but for the first time I was seeing that some things that I had believed and that my culture believed as absolute truth were, in reality, just cultural.) It took and still does take some wrestling to identify what are simply cultural norms and what are God’s truths that instruct us how to live and love.
Before college graduation, I started working in politics. I quickly put way too much of my identity and value in work. Last Spring I finished working on a campaign, bought a house and was about to staff a presidential. The manipulation involved in politics wasn’t good for me because I was good at it and actually liked getting a “free pass” when it came to lying. It was spiritually draining with hardly any time to eat or sleep–much less any time for fellowship or real relational investment. Even so, I was addicted to and loved the fast-paced life. It took some intense prayer & tough advice before I finally let go like I knew I should. For the first time in 2 years I didn’t have a reason to be glued to my phone and could genuinely rest & build relationships. I worked under a grant that required me to live at the poverty line while coordinating community service at a college and got plugged into a church that taught me the value of honesty, loving other Christians as family, and that we are called to serve our city.
I got to enjoy knowing and being known by God and others this year. It’s been one of the best, if not THE best, years of my life. God really does Love me despite myself, and I’m just starting to really “get” that. We really are to be in this world and not of it, and our actions and inactions should seem radical to those who don’t yet love Jesus. God’s teaching me that while much of what the World strives for (practicality, wealth, comfort, influence, status, etc.) can ultimately be used for good, Christians are not called to live comfortably; and following Jesus is not always practical.