I have always felt that overnight transformations are a load of crap. In my opinion, there is no way to completely change your life overnight and hope to keep those changes in place. In keeping with that thought, my journey to where I am has been a long one stretching over the last 20 years of my life. I felt that it would be appropriate to share my story with the world, so that maybe someone else will be helped by hearing it.
I was by no means raised in any sort of religious upbringing. Some of my grandparents go to church, or at least did at some point, but my mom stopped going to church when she was a little girl and my dad never went at all. I was baptized as a baby, but that was basically it for most of my childhood. I sometimes went to church with my grandma if I asked, but that was pretty rare. This was mostly to do with the fact that the church my grandparents attended was full of a bunch of people all over the age of 50--not exactly a fun environment for an 8 year old.
But I sort of believed in God at that stage of my life. He was just this sort of abstract thing you asked for stuff from--like Santa Clause, but for everyday stuff like not wanting to have math homework. But as I entered middle school I had no idea that God was going to begin his first attempt at bringing me to Him. A friend of mine played guitar in the band at a local Wesleyan church's youth group, and he invited me to come watch him play one week. I went and had a ton of fun, because to me the night wasn't filled with stodgy Jesus-y stuff like I was used to from the church I had sometimes gone to. I kept going week after week, telling myself that I was going for the fun and that all that church-y stuff wasn't getting to me, but it slowly was (and in a good way). I ended up accepting Christ as my savior at the age of 13, and was extremely happy about it: I felt like there was a little more light to the world, that the "awful" things in my life (that every teenager thinks only happens to them) were less daunting. (Note: Nothing actually bad happened to me in my life at that point, just those standard teenage issues like being awkward and having acne) I was constantly told by all of the youth leadership how much Jesus loved me, and even a random stranger at the super-market once told me "I can see Jesus shining through you, young lady." I was happy to be a good girl in the eyes of God and live my life as best as I could for Him.
This happy part of my life continued into high school, but it was soon to end. In the spring of my freshman year of high school my world was rocked: a scandal involving my youth pastor forced the church to fire him, and proved to me just how human (read sinful) a pastor really can be. My faith in God was shaken. "If a man that I trusted could do that, and God let him, then how can I trust God?" was the thought that ran through my young head. I lost my faith and became extremely cynical about humanity in general. The goodness that had been praised in me suddenly seemed to be a bad thing, and I tried to shed that image in any way possible.
Interested in learning what happened next? Then stay tuned for what is to come.