In bite-sized installments, I will be sharing my testimony: who I was, who I am today—through the unconditional love and unraveling grace of Christ. I’m telling my story this way because to do otherwise, I feel, would be to ignore the core of who I am. Because I am, first and foremost, a child of God, and a pursuer of His Presence. Some will, in time—if not already—dispute this. That’s okay. My confidence is solely in Christ.

Meeting Jesus

My story begins with my conversion. My dad was a worship pastor at a Baptist church in Michigan—but before you think of some judgmental, harsh, dress-code-enforcing Baptist stereotype, hear me out. This church wasn’t about making others adhere to their extra-biblical rules. (And I’m sorry if that’s been your experience with churches in the past.) This church was a group of loving, welcoming people. We had issues, like every church, but for the most part, it was a wonderful, Christ-honoring environment. My home was really no different. The focus was always brought back to Jesus. Before I was born, and periodically after, my family would visit various churches and put on concerts for them. My dad sang and played the piano. My siblings and I would sing. I remember growing up, learning about God, about Him sending His Son as a sacrifice for the sin of mankind. And I remember learning about my own sin, and realizing that I needed to become a Christian just as my parents and older siblings had—with a simple prayer, asking God to forgive me of my sin and give me a deep friendship with Him. One night, while we were staying with my grandparents, I decided I was ready to pray this prayer. My grandpa had us kneel down in the main bedroom, my small frame barely reaching the top of the quilted bed, and we each prayed. But when it was my turn, I told God that I believed He died on the cross, and that He came back to life, and I asked Him to forgive me for my sin and come into my heart. Back then, these words seemed simple, expected from me, but my grandpa recognized the power in that moment, and brought me downstairs to tell my parents what I had just prayed. They were also very happy for me, and I just sort of smiled awkwardly. I knew it was a big moment, but I think even then, I thought we knew this would happen at some point, with me being raised in this home, so is it really a very big deal?

Growing Up

My childhood—and my relationship with God—progressed normally, without many bumps. Physically—externally—everything was fine. Emotionally, though, I was a wreck, for most of the time that I can remember as a young child. When I must have been 8 or 9, I was falsely accused of something very small, and punished for it. I think even before then, I had a profound sense that no one truly loved me or cared about me, and this confirmed it, digging me deeper into this bitter lie. I would lie in bed at night and cry, listing off in my mind all the people who I believed didn’t really love me. It would go something like this. “Dad doesn’t really love me, he might do nice things, but he yells at me. Mom doesn’t really love me, she didn’t care when (my brother) John was being mean to me. Lissy doesn’t love me, she’s too busy with her stuff to think about me. John is just annoyed by me. And Grace(—who was 5 or 6—)will be just like the rest of them when she grows up.” Sometimes I would add in others, or younger siblings as they came along, but always in correct order of oldest to youngest, because of my demented organizational skills. Call me sensitive, call me spoiled—whatever. I was just a very depressed child.

When I became a little older—12, 13, 14, and really, continuing on as a returning virus—I found a little solace in the religion of Christianity. This can be dangerous for a young believer, and I later saw the faults in my logic and the arrogance of my lofty goals and ideas. But anyway, I memorized a lot of Scripture, prayed for minutes on end (it was so hard for my wandering child mind), and once even read the entire Bible in the span of ninety days. One passage I memorized influenced me greatly.

…And that’s my cliffhanger! As soon as the next post is published, it will be found at this link:

This post was written in August of 2018 and originally published in February of 2019.