If we start near the beginning of my life, I was baptized I believe the year after I was born, so that would be 1999. This was my parents’ promise to God that I would be raised in a Christian household. I wore the same Christening dress that my grandmother had hand sown for my mother to be Christened in back in 1961 and my sister wore it in 1997. I don’t believe my dad was ever baptized, but he grew up in a devout Christian household and my dad’s parents are very involved in the Church to this day, at nearly 90 years old, respectively.
As I became old enough my parents would take me to their church in Vancouver, Washington and they would go to church and send my sister and I to Sunday school. My sister and I were extremely shy and attached at the hip, so we would urge our parents to let us sit with them in big people’s church. Of course, we would stay as quiet as we could until we got bored because we couldn’t understand what was going on. So it wasn’t too often that we went to church.
When my family moved to a place across the Puget Sound, west of Seattle, Washington, we went to the church behind our house. By then, my sister was old enough to sit in church with my parents and they would still send me to Sunday school. I learned to pray and learned bible scripture. During the week, I would attend a program called Awana, where the focus was to memorize scripture for prizes and stickers. There was also games, worship, and story time.
When I grew out of the program, my family stopped going to church as a whole. My mother started drinking again for the first time in about 10 years and my dad transferred offices to an office a hour and a half from where we lived. My sister began going to youth group at the church in order to get away from it all, while I was stuck at home, dealing with a drunk, paranoid mother.
My sister stopped attending youth group for a number of years, but she started going again to cope with mom’s addiction and her paranoia during the spring of her junior year. She asked me to come with and I was skeptical because if God were to love me, He wouldn’t make me go through all of these hardships at home. I went and enjoyed the games and fellowship with others my own age, but I however, did not enjoy the worship aspect of it or the sermons. I would stand or sit respectfully, when I was supposed to, but did not join in.
But for whatever reason, I kept coming back. On the third or fourth time, I felt as though during worship, a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, as though God physically picked up all my burdens and told me that I was free. That was when I began to believe. I was 15.
I told my peers about what had happened and they all said God was providing you with what you needed and what my peer’s had been praying for in regard to me. I could not believe it; I had a God moment and wanted to tell the world.
That was in 2013. That summer after my God incident happened, I went to church camp for the first time. Puberty, love interests, and Jesus were were well in the air. I had many more God moments and many tears were shed in the light of true love. I was then baptized for the second time, in the Puget Sound on September 15th, 2013. It was storming that day, lightening had been flying through the skies. This time, I knew for myself that Jesus was my Savior and that would never go away.
I continued to go to youth group til I was 18. I was in line for a leadership role, but my boyfriend at the time was not a believer and the youth pastor gave me the ultimatum that I either had to break up with him to be in leadership, or I could be with him and basically be shunned from the group. I chose the latter.
Even after I broke up with that boyfriend, I tried to go back to the same youth group and no one would talk to me. As for being a loving and caring place, that church in particular, was not very kind and loving.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 18, which was really hard emotionally and I would have loved to have that sort of support from friends in Christ, but I never got that. I never stopped believing in Christ because I knew He was the only way out of all the messes I later on created. One summer day, my friend was home on leave from the Army and knocked on my parents’ door. I couldn’t believe it. I gave him a big hug and I noticed he had a huge tattoo on his forearm that was a cross. I said, Hell, I need one of those. I ended up getting my first tattoo with him of a cross.
I guess that tells you all about my back story, and not so much why I believe. I believe in God because of the God moment I had with Him of Jesus lifting my weights and burdens from me. That is the event that got me to truly believe in Him for myself. I feel that there is too much horror and unkindness in this world for there not to be some Higher Power behind everything. I believe that the Devil is well at work with demonizing people, making it so that people cannot move on from their addictions and worldly pleasures and look up and outwards at all the good that He has created.
For me, it is a moment by moment struggle everyday to choose what God wants for me and not what the devil wants for me. To make the “right” choices is hard!I don’t believe you need a church to be active in loving Jesus or following His word. I think this pandemic is proof of that. As long as you are diving into scripture, praying, and making time to learn and adore Him, you’re fine.
I will end on my favorite bible verse and hopefully, this can give some the wisdom that I have learned through my adversities over the years.
Create in me a clean heart O God and restore a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit away from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalms 51:10-12 NIV