I thought I’d start a new series of sorts on the blog so you can get to know me a little better. I’ll call it “My Story Monday.” I’ve been told that I am a pretty honest person… sometimes brutally so… sometimes “too much information” honest… but I’ve stated before… I write my experiences for two reasons… one- to process for myself and two- to encourage others who may have been through or are going through some of the same stuff. I don’t consider myself to have an extraordinary testimony or life… maybe that’s why I feel compelled to share it. I have an every day, run of the mill- stay at home mom kind of life.
I shared a little of my story when I started the Confessions of a Seminary Wife series on this blog. You can read the first post here. I shared that my life as an early Christian was much like a ferris wheel- lots of ups and downs, but basically the same scenery. After college, I stepped off the ferris wheel and onto the roller coaster… ups, downs, upside downs, twists and turns, etc. Soon, the roller coaster changed and I could no longer see ahead to what twists and turns were coming. I just had to hold on and trust that God was in control of the crazy ride.
I’m going to go back for a moment to when I first stepped on the ferris wheel. I grew up in a church going home. We went to church most Sundays and Wednesdays. I learned Bible stories. I learned my books of the Bible. I took a class on becoming a member of the church… but all that I got out of it was that I could now take communion the first Sunday of each month. I was taught a lot of stories, but not so much about the why… or the who of the Bible. I did not know that God was personal and very much in love with me and wanting me to be very much in love with and in relationship with him. As far as I knew, God set the world spinning and stepped back from the scene soon after. Also… I was a pretty good kid.. I didn’t get into trouble much. I didn’t do anything really “bad.”
When I was fourteen, my oldest brother was in a motorcycle accident. His spinal cord was severed and he was paralyzed from the bottom of his rib cage down. It was a rough summer to say the least. My parents spent most of their time at the hospital. I don’t really remember what my other brother and I did. Sickness and hospitals were nothing new to me. I had three major foot surgeries by the time I was ten. My middle brother broke more bones that I can count and our mom had breast cancer when I was in elementary school. I took these things to be part of life… never questioning a deeper meaning.
A friend, who knew about my brother’s accident and knew that I needed a break from it all, invited me to a week long camp with her church. I knew a few of the people who were going and thought it would be fun… so off I went. It was the first time I heard about Christ in such a personal way. It was the first time that I was introduced to the idea of a relationship with a loving, Creator God. It was the first time that I was told that the God who created the universe knew who I was and cared about the details of my life. We were sitting in our cabin one day and a friend asked if I was a Christian. I answered that of course I was. When she asked when I became a Christian… I said I had always been one. I thought you were either born a Christian or Jewish or Muslim. I didn’t know it was a choice to make. I learned during that week that I was a sinner. I learned that God wanted to forgive that sin. I learned that I could not earn forgiveness on my own, but I could accept that Jesus paid the price for my sinful heart when he died on the cross. I surrendered my life to Jesus that week. I knew things would forever be different because of that decision I made as a fourteen year old.
Things did change. I found community and belonging within the church. I met people who loved Jesus and learned so much from them during my time in high school. I also found out that there is a difference between being a Christian and just going to church. I found out that my new commitment was not so exciting for some people in my life. Things were not so cut and dry as maybe they used to be.
I kept on going to church. I kept learning and growing in my faith. Some friends said it was a phase. My parents thought I was in a cult. Some friends pulled away from me… but that’s ok… I knew it wasn’t a phase or a cult or a bad decision. I also knew that the road would not be easy… in fact… Jesus promised persecution. The Bible says that to those who believe, Christ is a beautiful aroma… but to those who don’t, it is the stench of death. I pressed on.
High school was not my most favorite time in life, but it is the time when I made the most important decision… to follow Christ. I have juggled many titles in life so far…. daughter, sister, student, friend, small group leader, teacher, wife, mother, secretary, cake decorator, knitter, etc… but my identity is not found in those titles. The thing that shapes me, in which I find my identity and my assurance is Jesus.
So… I stepped on the ferris wheel… and I didn’t look back.