I haven't used this blog for a long time, concentrating most of my posts on recipes over on my other site (www.tastymess.org), but when my pastor started a new series at church focusing on how sharing our own personal stories of how we came to Christ and how it has impacted our lives I immediately thought of resurrecting this little blog again.
I've been so blessed over the past few weeks watching my friends and other people in our church share their stories through videos and post them on social media using #story, I knew I should share my own. You're probably wondering why I'm not doing a video like everyone else and the reason is simple: my phone sucks. Yep, plus I think I'm better communicating through the written word so hang in there with me and I hope you are encouraged to share your own #story by reading mine.
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home, I don't remember a time when I wasn't going to church every Sunday. We had family devotions every evening and my sisters and I were regularly involved in AWANA and other church activities. I gave my life to Christ when I was 6 years old during one of those family devotional times and was baptized soon after (I was so short they could only see my pigtails over the baptismal). I never thought much about what my life without Christ would be like when I was a kid, since I had never really known any different. Like most young children I was focused solely on the fact that I wanted to make sure I went to heaven when I died and that Jesus loved me so I should be "good".
As I got older I started questioning my faith. When I was in high school I was a really angry, confused kid and I honestly don't know where I would have ended up if it hadn't been for my youth pastor Bernt King, and his wife Ginger. They took me in as basically one of their family and I spent more time at their house than I did my own for most of my high school years. I asked questions, always wanting to understand more about Christianity, the specifics of it. I got really hung up on doctrinal issues and technicalities and divisions in the faith. Thankfully I had a youth pastor who didn't mind my barrage of questions and took the time to teach me how to think critically about what I believed as well as explore what other world religions taught and how Christianity was different.
I made it through high school and went out of state to college. I wanted a fresh start and I certainly got it since I was almost 13 hours away from the town I grew up in. In my senior year of college my faith was really shaken for the first time. I suffered from insomnia and night terrors, usually only sleeping about an hour or two a night. Halfway through the year a childhood friend of mine lost his life tragically and at the same time my family was going through many issues of its own where I felt caught in the middle.
I felt lost and completely shut the church and God out of my daily life. I was tired of trying to understand how God could be good and still have horrible things happen to my family and friends. That view was made even worse by the hypocrisy I was beginning to see in the church where I grew up. Members of my family were treated poorly and isolated from families in leadership due to simple things like "wearing too much black" or having different opinions that some of the established long-term members. It really started hardening my heart against the church and I turned my back on the spiritual part of my life for years.
Fast-forwarding to 2009, I moved back to Maryland and became engaged to my (now) husband. He had become involved in our current church and I figured I should probably start attending again. I still held onto my core beliefs in Christ, but I had been hurt so much by the church where I grew up, I wasn't sure what to expect when I started attending church again.
God really started healing those old wounds as I started getting back into church, seeing my husband involved and learning about the focus of ORBC. I had never seen or been a part of a church whose focus wasn't so internal. This church's focus was always on the community and how to bring people in and minister to them where they were, no matter where they were in their life. I was stunned, was this what church was supposed to be like? Where was all the bickering, the back-biting, the talking down to others who weren't theological geniuses?
Of course our church isn't perfect, no church is, but I feel like I found a place to worship and learn about God that has its focus in the right place - how to help and heal others and bring them to Christ.
My story is still ongoing and as we have a young daughter, sometimes all I can think about is hoping that by growing up in a church like this, she won't have to walk down that hardened path that I did when I was younger.
I hope my story encourages you to share your own #story too.