I have attended church my entire life, but I haven't always followed God's plan for my life. I was born into a Christian family and knew at a young age that Jesus died to save me, but my life has been a journey discovering just how much that actually meant.
My parents divorced when I was a baby, so I have no memory of my mom and dad being together. I would see my dad on the weekends and loved spending time with him, so I took it really hard when he moved across the country for work. I was 5 years old standing in my church’s parking lot when he called me on the phone to tell me he had to leave instead of telling me in person. I was so hurt. After he moved I started blaming him for everything that I thought went wrong in my life. I thought that if he hadn’t left then everything would be just fine. I couldn’t understand why God would just let my dad leave me.
When I was in 5th grade my mom got engaged to my step-dad, and we began attending his church. I started meeting kids my age and making friends at my new church, and I really enjoyed it. I started hanging around them and learned more about Jesus being my personal savior. It felt like I was learning about him for the first time. When I started 7th grade, I started attending the youth group and learning more and more about God's love for me personally.
The summer after 7th grade I went to a summer camp with my youth group, and on the last night of camp, the camp pastor talked to us about how Christianity isn't something you're just magically born into, it's not just another religion, and no one can make the decision to follow Christ for you. It was then that I completely understood that God sent his Son to earth to save us. That night, I understood that I needed to make that commitment to follow Him. That last night at camp I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and it was real and I understood. But my new commitment to Christ unfortunately didn’t mean that life was easy from then on, or that I was magically obedience to following God's plan for my life.
Once I started high school I began to hang out with a group of girls who didn't have the greatest influence on me. I sought acceptance from this new group and as I started hanging out with them more, I ended up hanging out with my friends from church less. I still went to youth group and church every week, but my heart wasn’t there. I would show up and pretend. I started going to parties, drinking and smoking pretty much every weekend, and sometimes even during the weekdays at school. My sophomore year of high school was one of the hardest years of my life. My alcohol and drug habits started to consume my life. On the outside I seemed like a high-energy, fun party girl, but inside I was alone, angry, and hurting. I blamed God, but I was really just angry with myself. My heart was filled with disappointment, bitterness, and regret of the things I was choosing to do. I felt like God just sort of left me. My relationships with everyone outside of these 3 girls just started falling apart, and I felt like I had no one to turn to. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I continued to do it because who else was there to go to? I didn’t want to turn to God because I didn’t want to face my problems. I didn’t want to deal with the consequences of what I had been doing.
Throughout my junior year I started to hang out with different people, but I was still drinking and partying. I became more angry with God for leaving me. I wasn't very close with my friends from youth group at my church, and I blamed God for that. Once my senior year started, I again started hanging out with a new crowd, but this time they were actually people who had a positive influence on my life. Once I stopped drinking and going to crazy parties, I realized that the alcohol wasn't actually making me happy, but instead it was ruining my relationships. I went to my youth pastor and explained how I had just felt completely abandoned by God and he shared Psalm 139 with me. After I read verses 7-12, I was completely speechless.
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
Throughout all of the loneliness and anger, throughout the hurt and my complete disobedience to Him, he was there just waiting for me to return to His arms. He was always there, He always would be there, and there is nothing that I could do that would make my God love me any less. God spoke to me through His Word.
My life since I first accepted the Lord hasn't been easy, and I've definitely gone through many challenges over the past few years, but that doesn't mean that God hasn't been walking with me through them. I still struggle with temptation just like anyone, but if there's one thing I've learned over the past year even, it's that God's word is powerful. I have been able to claim God’s promises in my life and understand his love for me by reading the Word. Every time I open my Bible, I remind myself that there is always something new to be learned, that God is constantly teaching me and molding me to be more like him. I feel more at peace with where my life is going now because I know that God is always faithful and He never leaves me. I may not know God’s exact plan for my life, but I do know that He will make it clear to me in His timing.
I have been coming to Crave consistently for about a year now, and I have been so amazed about how God has transformed my life in just this past year. It has been a blessing to have the Crave community as a support system and family. I have felt so at home and accepted here and it’s helped me grow so much in my walk with the Lord. Through small groups and getting more involved, I’ve learned how crucial it is to have healthy, Christian relationships in my life to hold me accountable, to help guide me, and to go through life with. If there’s just one thing I could challenge you with, it would be to get involved in your church community. It will draw you to God’s word, draw you close to people, and draw you closer to God.