As part of the Wycliffe application process, I thought I would write out my "My Story" of how I started my Christian walk.
Here is my story. It's not great, but it's mine:
I grew up with Christian parents and we went to church every week. We prayed before meals and I knew all the Bible stories from Vacation Bible Schools and my children’s Bible. I knew there was a God but I didn’t understand then what a personal relationship with him was like. My dad worked for trucking company that transferred him to different cities throughout my childhood. By the time I was ten, we had moved eight times. When we arrived in Mishawaka, at the beginning of fifth grade, I had decided that I didn’t want to make friends. It wasn’t that I couldn’t make friends, but I didn’t want to because I “knew” we would be moving again and I was tired of saying goodbye to good friends. This caused me to be somewhat of an outcast in my class because I avoided people. I actually preferred that people not like me because then I wouldn’t care when I moved away from them. My classmates thought I was just shy and I probably was a little and instead of trying to break through the walls that I had built up they just gave me more reasons to not like them. I figured if I didn’t let anyone get to near me than they couldn’t hurt me. My fifth and sixth grade and Junior High years were pretty lonely. God did protect me from getting into anything too destructive because with my negative attitude I probably could have. I have found though that most often when kids find themselves hanging out with the wrong crowd, it’s because they are searching for friends and a need for acceptance. I wasn’t searching for friends; I was avoiding them for the most part. I got pretty good at being nice to people, but not forming really deep friendships.
It wasn’t until High School that I started to feel safe making friends. During my sophomore year of High School, some friends that I had made invited me a youth ministry event at their church. I decided to go and once I got there I looked around and was shocked at how many people that I knew there. There was something different about the people in the room and I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I started going every week with them and I realized that I starved for connection and relationships. I realized that even though I thought I was avoiding friendships for the past five years that I had some great friends anyway. These friends actually seemed to genuinely care about me. For the first time in my life I learned that God actually desired a personal relationship with me. I felt like every week the youth pastor was speaking directly to me. I recommitted my life to Christ surrounded by some of my closest friends. My high school small group was very supportive of me and helped me to break down some of the walls I had built up. It is interesting when I look back and realize that some of the closest, dearest friends that I still have now I met during those tough Junior High years. I wouldn’t trade those friendships for the world.
Because of those friends and the ministry of that church, I decided to go to Bethel College. While at Bethel College, I got involved with my church’s middle school ministry. Sometimes I wonder why God brings things into your life, but when I look back I think that maybe God was preparing me to do ministry to students just like me. I also met my husband at Bethel College. Sometimes when we don’t understand why something is happening, we just have to remember that God might a bigger purpose. If I hadn’t started attending the youth ministry in High School, I wouldn’t have made some of the amazing friends that I have now and I’m not sure that I would have wanted to go to Christian college. If I wouldn’t have moved around so much as a child, I don’t think I would have wanted to stay in the same city for college. I was finally in a place that I felt I could call home and I didn’t want to leave. If I hadn’t gone to Bethel, I wouldn’t have been invited to join the middle school ministry team at church, which taught me so much and helped me grow in my walk with Christ and I wouldn’t have met my husband, who is my best friend.
I continue to learn and grow in my Christian walk everyday. I don’t think I am where I need to be, but I’m on the journey. I still struggle sometimes with feelings of unworthiness and sometimes I will still shy away when meeting new people because I am not really sure if I want to let them in or not. I have learned that during those times I can lean on God and He will be my comfort. There is no feeling like the feeling of knowing the God desires to my friend.