I never really desired a relationship with God until I got to college my freshman year. My friend invited me to Young Life College during my first fall semester. She had gone to Young Life during high school and was looking for the same community coming into college.
I agreed because I was curious. I wanted to see what this was like in comparison to the Catholic church, which was the only church I had been to up to this point. I didn't think a relationship with God was even possible - until I went to Young Life.
There had always been this void in my life. This emptiness that was finally changing because I recognized the difference welcoming Jesus in my life was making. I was filled with joy. True joy.
From that point, I was just amazed that this kind of relationship was even possible. I became a leader for Young Life College and helped contribute to the community that opened my eyes to another way of living. I went on a mission trip and went to California to meet with other college students from around the country to learn from each other ways to make our school's Young Life College even better.
And then came the unexpected. With any relationship, it takes work and I didn't realize this was part of the whole Christian experience. I've seen so many people talk about how great their walk with God is.
But no one ever talks about the work and difficulties that come with deciding to follow Jesus. It is hard. You have to put in the work and sometimes, like I first thought, it seems like this journey is something you do on your own. That is the worst thing you can do. It's important to have a community that supports you, believes in the same things as you do and has been in your shoes before.
That was one of the things I loved about being a Young Life leader. I loved meeting new people who had the same initial idea about God that I did: that he is some distant being we worship because we're told to. I loved being able to walk alongside my peers and show them that there is more to life.
A big part of my faith journey was having my own Young Life leader. He was an influential role in the way my walk with Jesus turned out. He met with me once a week and I was able to vent about anything that I was proud of or causing me extreme pain. He was a voice of reason and someone I trusted with anything I told him.
I was able to realize that the community was just as important as the realization that this wasn't going to be easy. Even though I'm not perfect in my walk, I know that life is better when I am dedicated to my faith. And like people always say, nothing worth having ever comes easy.