This is the story of how I came to know and love Jesus. He is the one who called me and who has loved me all along, but it took me quite some time to recognize that truth. I figure the best place to start is at the real beginning of my spiritual journey, that is, how and when I recognized that truth, surrendered my life to Jesus, and started walking with the Lord.
As a quick disclaimer, I plan on being fully honest and open. For the Bible says “but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:7,8) To truly fellowship with others, I need to be able to share whatever experiences God calls me to share, so that He can use that openness to develop meaningful and fruitful relationships. There are aspects of this story that are not very nice. I have had some pretty dark moments in my life. However every single thing that has happened to me I would not take back, because it is this exact path I have traveled that lead me to Jesus, and that makes everything worth it. For the Bible also says “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Already I have seen God use the pain and mistakes in my own life for the good of His bigger plan, and while I know He does not want or cause evil, I also know that there is nothing that He can’t redeem!
I did not grow up in the Church. While I was baptized as a baby, and my family classifies themselves as Christians, we only attended service on Christmas and Easter. I had a kid’s Bible, my family definitely shared with me the basics about Jesus, and they always encouraged a loving, generous, spiritual environment, but that was as far as my childhood experiences with the Lord go.
When I was sixteen a friend invited me to church and for the first time I really felt a draw towards Jesus. See, when I was fourteen I was raped by the first boyfriend I ever had after breaking up with him. I had also just moved to New Zealand from the USA and was experiencing a lot of anti-American bullying. The combination of these things led me to become suicidal, and I attempted to take my own life more than once. So when I was told that there was a Savior, who wanted to heal hearts, who had died on the cross so that all my sins were already forgiven, and that He would love me no matter what, I desperately wanted to know more. I attended service every Sunday, participated in youth group, and even worked for the Church, but unfortunately I still did not understand that being a Christian is about a relationship with God, it isn’t just a religion. All I saw was this long list of rules, and they weren’t things I wanted to do, so I turned away from God. I wanted a Savior, but I was not ready to accept anyone as my Lord. I was only concerned with how God could serve me, not how I could serve Him.
Once I started going to university, my views were completely switched around. For five years I would gleefully crush anyone who believed in God with strong arguments for atheism. Of course I wanted there to be no doubt in my mind that God was just made up, because if He was real, I would have to admit to a whole lot of sin. You name it, I have probably done it. The more I tried to defend my exceptionally hedonistic lifestyle, the more depressed I became. I was the perfect illustration of Proverbs 26:11 – “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” I would get to the point of suicide, then try to pick myself up again by filling the void with an excess amount of the same sin that got me there in the first place. Therefore it seems fitting that I would finally hit my absolute rock bottom in Las Vegas, aka Sin City.
During the summer of 2013, I went on a road trip with some girl-friends to Las Vegas with the sole intention to party like a rock star for the weekend. Instead I became the victim of a disgusting scam used to exploit women, and was once again sexually assaulted. After this happened, all I kept thinking was, “there is no way I can go through this again, there is just no way. I can’t.” At first I tried to cope with it in my usual way, by drowning it out with continuous alcohol consumption, but it just wasn’t working.
Then I started to have thoughts in my mind about God. I would be listening to the radio and only Christian broadcasts would come up as I shuffled through the stations. One day while I was driving I sort of blacked out and suddenly was pulling up to a church. Things that I had just shrugged off in the past became less easy to shrug off. In particular I thought of the times in my life when I had tried to kill myself and surely should be dead. After one overdose incident, I suffered from renal failure, and the doctors could not figure out what to do. When everything suddenly started functioning normally again all on its own, they were baffled, and the only thing I received that was even close to an explanation was “it really is a miracle” and “oh how great to be young and healthy.” There was another time after an overdose where I spent an entire day non-stop vomiting up blood. That time I really thought I was going to die. Yet, within three days I was back at work. There are so many instances of things happening in my life that I cannot explain, except to say that God is great, and with Him, all things are possible.
I finally broke down, cried out to God, and declared that I believe Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord. I admitted that I desperately needed Him, and that I wanted to completely surrender my life to Him and His will, because I finally realized I could not do it on my own; my way does not work, for only His way brings truth. Since then I have watched Him answer so many of my prayers and do so many things I never imagined possible, including lifting the grief, despair, and guilt I felt over what happened in Las Vegas. I never thought I would be able to process through a trauma like that again, but as I surrendered and focused on my relationship with Him, He put people and support in my life, showed me things that filled me with hope and strength, and guided me to healing. Again, “for nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) I trust that God will use my experiences, good and bad, to build up my strength and to help others, and I am just so grateful that I came to know Him before things got even worse! I suffered from deep, suicidal depression for 10 years, and then that was lifted. I have no way to explain that except to say it was a miracle. Now, I even truly, deeply desire those who hurt me the most to come to know Jesus, receive Salvation, and one day be in Heaven. That kind of forgiveness does not seem natural and it makes no sense. I know it is from God and has come only because I first received such great forgiveness from Him!
That isn’t to say that everything in my life has suddenly became absolutely perfect though. I still have times where I stumble, and struggle, big time. The occasions when I fall the hardest though, are when I stray from God. While I am walking with the Lord, there are obstacles, but when I surrender those obstacles to Him and trust the purpose He has for me, a sensation of peace remains even in the darkest moments. Jesus tells us “for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35) It is incredibly hard to completely deny my old self. That does not mean that God is calling me to be a completely different person, He wants us all to be the special, unique way He made us. It does, however, mean that I have to give up the things that I know are sinful and purely selfish endeavors, and instead use my passions to serve Him and others. That was particularly puzzling at first because I wasn’t quite sure how some of my greatest passions fit in with Christianity.
For instance, I have always considered myself a feminist, but knew the Bible said something about women submitting to men. The verses which discuss the idea of submission are not so one dimensional, they are focused towards a wife and her husband, and demand sacrifices from both members of a marriage, as is seen where it states “wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord… Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:22,25) Yet, even after reading this, I still questioned God about how I could be passionate about women’s rights and be a Christian. It was heavy on my heart one day as I was aimlessly flipping through my Bible when I came upon a note that was titled ‘Women’s Rights.’ It discussed how women’s rights were really an integral part of Christianity, because even though the generation that Jesus lived in absolutely denied women equality, He called everyone to love each other as equals. I think one of the most empowering verses in the Bible is Galatians 3:26-29 – “so in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
This verse also carried over to another misconception I held about ‘Christians.’ I had this image in my mind of people demonstrating outside abortion clinics and at LGBTQ events, spewing absolute hate and discrimination, claiming to be doing so in the name of God. However Jesus asks us “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) First and foremost we should be focusing on our sin, not shifting focus by judging others. Jesus also tells us that the second most important commandment out of any of the other laws ever written is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Nowhere in the Bible does it say that if something is a particularly popular topic of controversy in society, we can suddenly throw what Jesus has said out the window, and go ahead and treat people like we have never even heard of love or Christ before. Another way we are all equal in the eyes of God, is that we are all sinners, we all make mistakes, and we all have our own temptations in life, which serve as obstacles. He forgives us and loves us equally no matter what. It is not our place to judge, only God can do that, and if we do see someone stumbling, we should be loving them all the more, supporting them, not driving them further into despair so we can feel better about, or ignore, our own short comings.
God shows me new things, teaches me new lessons, and has new mercies for me everyday. The process of becoming more Christ like is just that. It is a journey that will last my whole life. But God is so faithful and honors those who follow Him. A great example of this came when I was accepted to be a part of a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with YWAM. It began on June 23rd 2014. The incident in Las Vegas occurred on June 23rd 2013. Instead of spending the one-year mark of this event feeling crushed, I was filled with excitement and an absolutely assured sense of awe, because God restores even the most brokenhearted people.
So this is where I am right now. I am walking with the Lord and I have started to explore the passions He has put on my heart, the gifts He has blessed me with, and how these things will guide me towards the particular purpose He has prepared. During the past three years, since becoming a Christian, I have seen God move in so many different ways, in so many different places, in so many different people. He has given me so many stories to share, to bring Him praise and glory! Ultimately I pray that this blog will be a place to share stories and discoveries. For anyone reading this that is not a believer, I do not intend to spend my time writing as a way to debate you into believing. It is my intention to always respect where ever each person is on his or her own individual path of life. I would love you to continue to read my posts though, so I can share the different places I see, people I meet, and undoubtedly spectacular experiences I am blessed with along the way. If you have any questions, or want to talk to me about anything I write here, I am happy to discuss whatever is on your mind, and will always eventually respond once I come to a place with internet access.
Glory to God for this amazing opportunity! May He bless each one of you, on each of your own journeys, too! Thank you for reading!
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”