Going Through The Motions

Going Through The Motions

And how it lead me to Him.
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Much like many families I grew up with in the Bible Belt, I was raised in church. We were there every Sunday morning, rain or shine, and every Wednesday night as long as one parent was off work. The majority of the time I was excited to go, but only for my few friends that I had class with. It was never really about God or religion, but rather a social calling for me and required family time. As any good student, in class and out of class, I paid attention. I memorized Psalm 23, could distinguish different locations on a map and could tell you names of the twelve disciples. I went through the motions of being a believer for the sake of pleasing my parents. It was one of the best things my parents could have done for me.

Even though I was just going through the motions to please my parents, I learned a lot about Jesus and his love for the world. I would have never admitted it to them then, I probably wouldn’t have admitted it to myself either, but church gave me a lot of insight on life in general. By my parents making me go to church, they formed an incredible base for me, as an adult, to stand on. They taught me to pray even if I only did it out of selfishness when things didn’t go the way I wanted it to. They taught me to forgive even when every ounce of me said not to. And they taught me to have faith even in the midst of a storm.

But ever bigger than those things, they gave me hope for a better tomorrow. I stopped going to church sometime in high school. I was angry about life and how things had panned out. I had to move to a new town, make new friends, lose relationships, have my first heart break by myself and grow up in a matter of weeks. Everything about my life seemed awful. I even stopped praying. This went on for about three years. I didn’t start praying again until my world got turned upside down by someone I thought I loved. Again, I was selfish and didn’t pray until something didn’t go my way.

I spent years blaming God for deaths, for my parents divorcing, for my boyfriend not loving me the way I wanted him to, for basically everything that had ever gone wrong in my life. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realized that all of this had led me on a certain path. Had none of those things happened exactly when they happened, I probably would have never met my husband. I probably wouldn’t have had my two beautiful little girls. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have found the best church I have ever stepped foot in.

Earlier this year, I was bound and determined to find a church where we belong. I wanted our daughters to have a solid base to stand on, even if they were just to go through the motions like I did. I wanted to be able to wake up in the morning and praise God for giving me another day to live. I wanted to be able to show my daughters the same kind of love that He has shown me. I needed for them to be able to know how to pray, how to forgive, and how to be faithful. Knowing God through a personal relationship was no longer a solo journey for me, but a journey that I wanted my family to be a part of.

It did take a few different church tries to find the right one. While I grew up in a church with less than a hundred members, somehow the church we fell in love with is big enough to need three different sanctuaries. We have been going to this church at least two Sundays a month since February, but we aim for every Sunday. I will never know how anyone actually makes it on time to anything with two toddlers and a husband, but my intentions are always pure. With me being in church, my life has felt easier. I’ve started praying more, letting more things go and enjoying the little things. Earlier this week I went to my first small group and was able to pray with a dozen other women on our personal requests. It was amazing. The amount of freedom I feel now that I have found the right church is amazing.

If you live in the Middle Tennessee area, this is me extending an invitation to try our church, World Outreach. Pastor Allen Jackson is amazing and always knows just what to say. You can feel the love running through the building every Saturday and Sunday. If you aren’t sure that the time is right for you, you can even find Pastor Allen Jackson on television, listen to his podcasts and share our journey from the comfort of your own home. And if you just want to start off small, find a small group that they offer. I’ll see you there.

Cover Image Credit: Patheos

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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If God Didn’t Intend For Women To Be Equals, Why Did She Make Us So Incredible?

Yeah, I said She.

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An article that absolutely infuriates me has gone viral. As a feminist, as a writer, and simply as a woman, it drives me up a wall to see another woman proclaiming that God's plan for women was to "submit to their husbands."

I don't know where to start with all the issues I found in reading the piece, so I'll start with what a feminist is. It's a subjective term and its connotation varies from person to person.

But to me, feminism is being empowered and expressive individuals with open minds and open hearts. They are activists for change and equality. They have concerns about the environment and global warming. They acknowledge issues within sexism and racism and then try to figure out how to solve them. They see that the world isn't perfect.

Feminists are the reason we can vote. They're the reason birth control is an option for us. They're why we're allowed to wear pants. They're why we have careers. The female pioneers paved the way for anything we're allowed to do, and they are why we celebrate the power of women every March.

But instead, the woman who wrote "I'm A Christian And I'm Not A Feminist, Because God Did Not Intend For Women To Be Equals," used our month of pride for clout. And took justification from The Bible to do it.

The Bible is not an instruction manual. It was written over many, many years by hordes of sexist men whose existence we have minimal proof of. And over the last thousand years, it's been translated and reinterpreted more times than anyone could ever keep track of. That's not to say it doesn't have some good lessons, but lessons are all they are.

Thinking your worth and capabilities were planned for you thousands of years in advance is ignorant. Religion and The Bible and God are as subjective as feminism. Everything is open-ended. One person's view of who or what God is not going to be the same as the last.

Commonly, God is seen as a man at the center of the universe who holds all existence in his hands. He is the reason why anyone does anything. He is the rule maker. And He is judging us and waiting for our every mistake.

But as a proud feminist, I've chosen to have my own idea of this holy being. I wasn't brought up in church, but I decided to believe in something much greater than myself or anything I've ever seen just because I wanted to. I want to believe that faith has to come from somewhere, and I didn't want a book making the rules for me.

Just by watching life move through time, I happen to believe God is the good in all of us. Not one being, but he beginning and the end of everything. The push and the pull. The conscious and subconscious. And considering that God is the creator, I've concluded God must be a woman because women are the creators.

And in my experience, women have proved themselves to be much stronger and more capable than any man.

As for what She creates, I think She makes no mistakes. I think She tests our patience and beliefs by giving us what we don't expect. There's intent and love in everything She gives us. I think every woman was made to be relentless, imperfect, fearless, and even a little rebellious.

And if we're saying Adam and Eve were the start of it all, then God proved that right off the bat. God saved the best for last, and then made her a badass. Yes, the first woman came into this world as a rule breaker. She questioned authority. And since the beginning of time, authority has been a snake. The world is our forbidden fruit to bite.

The sole purpose of a woman isn't to submit to anyone. A woman can do whatever she damn well pleases, just as any man. A woman's worth isn't tied to what kind of wife or mother she is and how closely she follows the rules. I was raised by the most incredible mom and wife. She did happen to stay at home with me and be the traditional woman. But while she was home, she taught me how great it is to be a woman. She made sure I knew I could be whoever I wanted and would pay no consequences for that.

My parents didn't raise me in a church. And I never saw that as a flaw or lack of judgment. My southern home was like a church; full of faith and love. But on Sundays, we would sleep in and have a big breakfast at noon because we had too much fun staying up late Saturday night dancing around our living room to music. Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Madonna led the choir — singing about independence and the power of being empowered as women.

As a feminist, I will not judge those who haven't accepted all the honors of being female. I can just tell everyone how wonderful it is to stand for something. I can set an example so that more women will go forward.

And despite what anyone thinks of feminism, there's nothing exclusive about it. Feminists don't think they're any better than men, they just want the chance to prove their capabilities. It's so much bigger than thinking men suck. The truth is, we should have men at our side, not in front of or behind us. And not for romantic partnerships, but as allies. The best men are feminists too. We can make this walk alone, but there's power in numbers and in diversity.

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