I thought I should share my testimony so others can get to know me on a more personal level. I’ve never really been the most transparent person. If anything I’ll have a moment where I build my courage up really big and share something about myself only to slide back down into my chair as far as I can go 30 seconds later wishing I hadn’t said such things.
Most of it comes from insecurities planted early in elementary school. But I’ve recently learned that my insecurities, fears, and lack of being bold, transparent, or willing to put myself out there has only caused me to have a shortage of genuine friendships and a shortage of opportunities to share my faith with others.
So this is what I’m working towards. Breaking down that wall, being transparent and vulnerable, being available, and being proactive in making connections with others. And I thought if I can’t share my testimony from behind a computer screen then I’m in big trouble. So here it goes.
Don’t get too excited, but do keep reading. I wish I could say I had a major, whirlwind, life-altering, hurricane-like experience when I came to know Jesus. Those are some really good stories. The kind that you need an entire pack of tissues for. That’s not me though. In fact, you’ll probably see a lot of yourself in my story.
Like the majority of Americans, I grew up in Smalltown, USA where you know almost everyone’s name. West Virginia to be exact. My parents took us (myself and my two siblings) to church frequently. We were there Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and again on Wednesday nights.
I came to know Jesus at a very young age. An age where most people like to doubt you and say you don’t know any better and would criticize my moment of becoming a Christ follower as being inauthentic. But I vividly remember riding with my mom in our small blue Honda and I knew I loved Jesus. I knew I that I wanted Him in my life forever. Sitting in the front passenger seat at, what is now, a far too young age for safety, I told her I wanted to be saved.
As she drove, she led me in prayer. After praying I was so proud. I was SAVED! I would spend my life after death with Jesus and God in HEAVEN! I was extremely excited, but in reality, not much changed.
It wasn’t until I was about 15 years old in youth group that I learned what having an actual, in depth relationship with God looked like. I fell in love. I wanted to be at church or with my youth group at every possible moment. All of our church pastors were deeply rooted in God’s Word with their teachings and to this day, I refer to our pastor’s sermons as the meal of “meat and potatoes.”
I have been to plenty of other churches that only serve light hors d’oeuvres. They feed you, but you leave still feeling hungry. No church is perfect. One of the biggest things I’ve learned about finding a church is that they all need grace too and there is so much more to a church than the 4 walls and a Sunday morning sermon.
After my sophomore year of high school, my father lost his job and accepted a new one many hours away on the coast of Virginia.
I had known the faces in my hometown for my entire life of 16 years and leaving that life behind impacted my spirit, my mind, and my emotions.
I started struggling with depression, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and by 17 I was taking part in alcohol, a variety of drugs, and promiscuity, all looking for something to fill a God sized hole in my heart. I was longing for something to satisfy a craving that I later learned could only be satiated by God’s love.
Unfortunately, I continued making poor decisions throughout college to the point of getting suspended and having to move back home with my parents. By this time, they had moved to the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina.
I look back on all those years of living life my way wondering how I didn’t end up dead in a ditch somewhere, truly. I’ve had some fairly destructive and traumatic moments, some self-induced and some not.
I continued struggling with depression well into my late 20’s, at times more severe than others, but I found freedom in Jesus. Not to say that depression just goes away, but I realized that He was my rock and my refuge in those times. It was only God that could carry me through.
Throughout these years I never lost my faith, I still prayed, but I was praying, and then partying. I was using God’s grace as a permission slip, knowing He would forgive me when I didn’t try to maintain self-control. I wasn’t living a genuine Christian life. My faith was not fruitful.
Many people criticize Christians for being hypocritical and I was definitely a hypocrite. We all are to some degree. In the words of my pastor, Bobby Conway, “Hypocrisy is not a Christian problem. It is a human problem.” Christians just have a higher standard to live up to – Jesus. Those who criticize fail to see that this is exactly what Christianity is about – falling short, messing up, and God still extending His grace to forgive us and embrace us because He loves us that much.
I spent several years in my 20’s reestablishing my faith and my relationship with God. I’ve grown the most during the last 5 years of living in faith with my husband and my children and my faith is stronger and more deeply rooted than ever before.
Even in these last few years of marriage, my husband and I have dealt with a variety of struggles. We’ve experienced painful relationship issues that made us want to throw in the towel. We have had financial issues. Most recently, we have dealt with multiple miscarriages as we seek to expand our family.
I feel like it has just been over the last few years that I have learned some of the most crucial lessons in life. One of the greatest being that there is nothing greater than God’s grace and nothing more satisfying than God’s love.
I am still a long way away from where I want to be – to be like Jesus. But I am grateful for the Holy Spirit and the work of sanctification that He is doing within me.