I was raised in a household on Southern Baptists who went to church every Sunday. I participated in vacation bible school every summer and went to Sunday school each week. Despite this, I was never baptized or even asked if I wanted to be baptized. I never thought it was a big deal until middle school. I went to a Catholic High School, not because anyone in my family was Catholic, but because it was the best school in town. In my religion classes, we were basically taught that people who aren't baptized won't get to Heaven as easily. I couldn't understand this. I was a good person who made good decisions, so why couldn't I go to Heaven when I died? This was where I started questioning my faith in God.
After I transferred school and moved to a different town, I tried out new churches with my boyfriend. He was also raised in a Southern Baptist family, so we automatically went to the local Baptist church. I went with him every Sunday, not for myself, but for him. I didn't want him to know I was questioning everything, or that I didn't feel like I fit in at any church. Eventually, I broke down and told him how I felt. He respected my feelings and continued going to church without me. I stopped trying to force myself into churches and focused on learning more about different religions. I struggled to find one that I identified with. At that point, I didn't even know if I believed there was a god or higher power. I also started struggling with depression and anxiety around this time. I felt like my life was falling apart.
Fast forward to my first year in college, when my boyfriend and I had our first big falling out. I hadn't made any friends yet, and I felt like I didn't have anyone to turn to. One night, after we got into a huge fight, I sat on my bed and prayed for the first time in years. It wasn't a prayer like I was used to. There was no structure, no "Dear Heavenly Father" or memorized words. I prayed unlike I had ever prayed before, like I was talking to a friend. I told God about my struggles and begged for a solution, then told Him about my lack of faith and asked for a sign.
I don't know exactly what I expected to happen. Maybe I wanted to hear God tell me everything would be okay. Maybe I wanted an immediate sign from Him. I was frustrated that I didn't get these things. The next time I felt alone, I prayed again in the same way I had before, but this time I didn't ask for a quick fix or a sign. I asked for guidance and patience. This is when I truly found out how amazing God is. Suddenly, I felt at peace. I had a feeling inside of me that everything would work itself out. I reevaluating the way I viewed God and prayer. I learned that He isn't going to magically make all of your troubles go away, but He will guide you through it. After I changed my point of view on everything, I was exposed to a breathtaking relationship with God.
No, I still don't go to church every Sunday. No, I don't follow every rule in the Bible. Despite this, I feel closer to God and closer to my faith knowing that I found my way to Him on my own. He showed me love and forgiveness after I came back, begging for help. I'm still on my journey to becoming a better Christian, a better friend, and a better daughter, but I know that He is there for me, no matter what.