Before I begin this week's very much belated piece, I want to be honest with you all. I came very close to quitting Odyssey, but I pulled through and here I am. One word from a fellow Odyssey writer on campus soothed my nerves, and now I'll bet you'll see me walking around with a small pink Moleskine notebook jotting down article ideas. I am almost out of ideas, since the last time I generated a shortlist was when I first joined the team. Now, I look back and laugh at my bullet points because they sound extremely silly. I prefer to create original content that is sufficiently reflective and something I feel proud of sharing.
The story I'm telling today is one example.
Hi, reader! I'm a Christian. It's been two years since my baptism and I'm still a fervent Jesus-lover as I was back then. The one thing I'm not super happy about is the fact that I have not been going to services a lot, with all the stress of college applications and doing well in class filling up my senior year. In junior year, I was at Wednesday night youth group and Sunday services almost every week. Today I'm making a promise to God that I will venture off campus and attend services with my new church family. Thank you, Journey Christian, for welcoming me with open arms and being the kind people I always met at church.
Although I regret that I'm not able to go to service this morning, I swear I'll be on the van many times in the future!
My journey to God was eventful and unique (much like most testimonies). Early in our move to China, I remember going to a Sunday School service, but it didn't become a regular event. My PreK-12 school was Lutheran, so that's where I began being exposed to more religious elements. We sang "Jesus-loving" songs at assembly, spent a few minutes each day having "devotions", and also took part in "popcorn prayers". In middle school, I took the mandatory religion classes, but nothing life-changing happened yet.
Then, at the end of the fall semester in my sophomore year, my life went downhill. I had missed school for TWO weeks as a result of a common cold as well as a MUN conference in Singapore, so the load piled up. I stopped doing homework and failed to prepare for multiple tests. I resorted to watching crime dramas and comedies on TV (actually my laptop). At first, my teachers did not take much notice, but then suspicions grew. I went to a series of counselor meetings, and a "bounce-back" plan was set in motion. I took advantage of office hours, and practiced as much as I could for my hardest classes (math and chemistry). I used an egg timer to space out my studying, and sooner than later, I was caught up. I studied for my AP World History exam and ended with a 5. Seeing that golden number at summer camp a few months later was the happiest moment of my life - that is - until I read my Emory acceptance letter.
What I have yet to include is a big part of what saved me during those sad times. My best friend of 12 years now had invited me to a service with her family once, and that was enough to get me hooked. I went to a few youth services, then became a regular at my neighborhood fellowship. I went to two spring retreats and met a bunch of good friends from church. Whenever I feel down or need a little advice, I never hesitate to contact one of my church people. Church is the ultimate happy place. Whenever I go to church, my spirits are automatically lifted. Christians are so nice and open to anyone to join them. As someone who wasn't quite welcome in a lot of the groups I encountered throughout life, to find somewhere that I could be myself and have fun with a lot of cool kids was beautiful. Knowing that I have a strong support network for times when I do need some help is also a refreshing thought, and with God, I always feel discouraged when I try to give up.
I know that, despite my flaws and weaknesses, God still loves me. He sacrificed Himself for all of us, and now I'm trying to repay him by living a purpose-driven life. His Word is my bread, and they're the wisdom I need to go forth.