How I Came To Be The Woman Of God That I Am Today
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How I Came To Be The Woman Of God That I Am Today

My Journey to Faith...

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How I Came To Be The Woman Of God That I Am Today

I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious family. My mom took us to church when we were really little, but around the time I was 6 years old we had stopped going. She never wanted to be a parent who forced religion on her kids, and it was something she wanted us to find for ourselves which, as I grew, I came to appreciate a great deal. As I got a little older, I didn’t give much thought to religion or religious relationships until my cousin, who I had always looked up to, came home from a religious camp in Tyler, Texas called Pine Cove. She was the first one in my generation of our family who had truly pursued a relationship with God and she began to share with us all of her amazing experiences and all the fun she had. Something in me decided that I needed to attend this camp. That week, my parents signed up both my younger sister and I to attend the upcoming summer which was to be the summer before my eighth grade year.

When I showed up for camp that summer I was absolutely terrified. I knew no one (and most people had been attending since they were in elementary school), I had no clue how to find scripture in the Bible, I didn’t have any verses memorized, I didn’t know any songs, and I felt completely incompetent. Most of the first two days were made up of me watching the girls in my cabin and mimicking where they turned to in their Bibles, the way they prayed and interacted with other people, and all of their dance moves to the songs and camp cheers. I felt like a complete and utter phony.

On the last night at camp, we did an activity where we wrote down everything that was keeping us from connecting to God on a piece of paper. At first, I couldn’t think of anything, but then my hand started moving and before I knew it, my paper was completely full. My parents did not have a healthy marriage and, being the oldest child, it felt like the responsibility of taking care of my sisters fell to me during rough patches. Eight-year-old me took on immense amounts of pressures and responsibilities and because of that I learned to handle myself and the people around me without asking for help from anyone. I didn't trust anyone to take care of me or my sisters, I didn’t let anyone in, and I most certainly did not let my guard down long enough to even consider having a Savior. I couldn’t imagine a world where my strength or determination would come from anywhere other than my own soul. It took me a while to discover that God gave me that strength to begin with. On top of all of this grief and anger that had built up over the course of my life, there was also shame. During that period of my life I ran with a group of girls who were simply mean. They were the “it” group, and they were horrible to the people around them, but I knew that was not me. It wasn’t who I was meant to be or who I wanted to be and because of that, I condemned myself and subconsciously decided that even though I was surrounded by people who could help me let go, I latched onto it and deemed myself unworthy of having any grace or even any love, or anyone to simply listen. I wasn’t worthy of help, and I didn’t need it. I could handle it all by myself just like I had been doing for my whole life. That night though, as I wrote and wrote and wrote down all the reasons why I knew I would never connect to God, I started crying and something inside of me was begging for someone to listen. For the next hour I cried to my counselor and confided in her everything that had ever happened to cause me to close off the world and the hope of being saved. That night she taught me God’s love and grace and forgiveness. As our time together was ending, worship began and I went to stand next to the other girls in my cabin and for the first time in my life, I lifted my hands to the Lord and praised His name. I asked Him to take from me all of my shame and guilt and all of the pain that the events of my life had embedded in me. In that moment, with my arms outstretched and my eyes closed I truly felt His presence. I felt Him move in my heart and in my soul and I could almost physically feel His embrace when I knew at last that I was His.

For the next few months I was on a massive “camp high” but even when that faded, my life was changed forever by the commitment I made that summer. I continued to go back to camp every summer after that and every year, the camp high was a little bit stronger and I was more determined to live my life wholly and completely devoted to my faith. However, during my sophomore and junior years, I kept up my faith but it felt more like I was floating through it. I was a Christian, but I wasn’t as devoted as I wanted to be and I was aware of that but I was so overwhelmed with responsibility and all of the activities I was involved in that my faith took a back seat. Instead of putting my identity in God, I had begun putting my identity in music and the hundreds of things I was involved in and neglecting my Christian identity.

A few months into my senior year of High School I was diagnosed with vocal nodes and put on strict silence for a month. I was not allowed to speak one word for two weeks and I wasn’t allowed to sing for a month. This was the most devastating news I had ever received. I quickly fell into a sense of despair and depression and simply didn’t know what to do with myself. I had sang every day of my life starting in the fourth grade and suddenly I couldn’t even talk. All means of communication were cut off and it was just me and my thoughts. My boyfriend continued to encourage me to pray and dig into my faith for strength. At one point, I realized that I was so lost that I had no choice but to do so. I was so lucky to have the amazing support system that I did, and no matter how lost I felt, my boyfriend, my sister, and my closest friends continued to push me in my faith and that is where I found my strength.

All through High School, I didn’t have a church home until shortly after I got sick and was diagnosed with nodes. My sister came home begging me to attend a church that one of her best friends had introduced her to and so that weekend, I reluctantly went with her. I had once again gotten used to doing things on my own, including my faith, and was convinced that I didn’t need a church. However, after attending one service with my sister we both committed to attending and getting Baptized together in that church. We quickly grew into the community there and during the time of my sickness, even though it was one of the most painful things I had ever experienced, I had never felt so close to God or felt his presence so prominently in my life. I devoted myself to my faith and my relationships with the help of my amazing support system and even after I was healed, I knew that I would forever be changed by the experiences of being sick and feeling His presence so deeply. During that time, I irrevocably and undeniably dedicated my life to Him. It’s a hard thing to do, putting your faith and trust in something you can’t see or touch and I am unashamed to say that is something I will struggle with for the rest of my life, but if I had not put my faith and trust in Him during that time I don’t know how I would have come out of it without being wholly broken. My faith, relationship with Christ, and Christ-like relationships have saved me time and time again and I know they will continue to do so throughout my time in this material world. They are who have made me the Woman of God that I am today.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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