Hi, friends.. Today, I’m inviting you all to get to know me on a more personal level.
Some of you may have noticed that there’s a new category up under the “Lifestyle” tab here on SS. The category is called “Faith” and it’s one that I’ve contemplated for the past few months – not if I would incorporate it here, but how exactly was the best way to add the most important thing that I could write about without offending, driving people away or turning people off to wanting to come back to this blog time after time. I finally realized, though, that it’s okay. It’s okay if I lose some viewership because of a weekly or biweekly post and it’s okay if people don’t want to read my words. The bottom line is that I want to feel good about this corner of the internet that I inhabit. I want to make a difference in others lives in a much more profound way than helping them find the best sale that’s going on, or how best to plan your wedding in a short amount of time. Although those things are fun – they’re fun to talk about and they do add richness to our day to days – I am a child of God – and I’m on this earth to do something so much more lasting and important.
The truth is, as I’ve watched this little blog of mine grow exponentially over the last few months, I’ve not only been filled with immense gratitude, but I’ve also felt a tug at my heart – as if God was saying, “You’re doing what you’re meant to do – now let me take it and blow it up. Let me work through you.”- If that sounds weird – it’s okay. I understand. But bear with me.
So what does all this mean?
It simply means that I want to share with you. For those of you who are not believers, I just want to speak a bit of encouragement and provide a window (however tiny) to a God who not only loves and cares, but saves. For those of you who are believers, I want to be here for you. I want to pray for you. I want to encourage you, too, through my words, my story and my prayers. And for those of you who are on the fence – maybe you’re somewhere in the middle of believing and not believing – I want you to know that you’re not alone and that it’s okay to have doubts and reservations.
This doesn’t mean that I’m going to inundate you with posts about scripture and it doesn’t mean that I’m going to try to shove the Bible down your throat. I just want you to know who I am – and, ultimately, who HE is.
So, for this first faith post of mine I thought the best way to reach out would be to share my story. The story of how I came to be a believer.
This story began about 8 years ago. I was halfway through my senior year of high school. I had a lot of friends, I played varsity sports, was on track to graduate high school with more than 4.0 GPA. I had been dating a boy since freshman year, my family was in a good place financially – we had built our house a few years before and life was good… like, really really good.
And then, in January of 2008, all of it came crashing down. The boy that I was dating broke it off in a pretty devastating turn of events and, because of the dynamic of our core group of friends, it essentially severed my ties with the people I had hung out with and invested most of my time in over the last three or four years. To make things worse, my dad (a self-employed consultant who relied on contracted projects to work) was not finding anything in the pay range that he needed to be able to support our family – and it was beginning to really put a strain on thing at home. Everything began to spiral down and I found myself in a truly hard place. I remember, at one point, thinking – I can’t wait to go away to college. I just needed a fresh start.
I didn’t realize, though, that my fresh start was just around the corner and that the “good life” that I had before would pale in comparison to the Life I had ahead. It was right around that time that I met a family that would invite me to start going to church with them. They shared the Gospel with me, broke bread with me, showed me an example of what healthy relationships were like – what a healthy family looked like. They taught me about God’s grace and showed me that the only thing I needed to do to receive it was to repent and believe that I’m forgiven – that I’m loved, that I don’t have to have it all together and that God is so, so good. I was sitting at the kitchen island with one of the greatest, Godliest, most loving women I’ve ever met when I decided to accept Christ into my heart – and from then on I never looked back.
I began to make new friends and built relationships that, to this day, I count as some of the most important ones I have. I spent two summers during college interning with the church and experienced such powerful growth as I worked with the youth group, went on missions trips to Mexico and began to build a solid foundation in faith. I was challenged and forced out of my comfort zone and through that I learned so incredibly much.
Since then, too, relationships that I’d held in high school and that had been lost for, what I thought, would probably be forever, have been restored and strengthened. It’s been so cool to see the restorations.. as if God saw a need for places in my life to be knocked down and rebuilt – but rebuilt by Him. It’s through realizations such as that that I’ve seen His goodness, his graciousness and His love intensified.
As I reflect on where I was in life when I became a Christian, I can’t help but feel like all of that “bad stuff” that happened was God making room in my heart for Him. Because, let’s be honest, when “life was good” and easy and everything seemed to just be handed to me – I don’t think I would have been as receptive; I don’t think I would have truly let Him in or appreciated the magnitude of who He is. We’re in the best position to feel God’s grace and mercy and healing when we’re down for the count. It’s in that place that is so much opportunity for growth – if you’ll let God work in and through you.
And I think that’s my prayer for you – whoever you are – that you might reflect on things in your life that were hard, where maybe you really struggled and try to see how God may have been doing something great. Maybe there’s something going on right now in your life that you don’t understand.. Be encouraged by this passage that I know, for a fact, to be true:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:11 and 13