I grew up in a wonderful family with a mom, dad and younger brother. My whole family is very supportive and loving. We are all close and pretty darn nutty. I didn’t really grow up with a church. My family would go around Christmas and Easter. The church I went to later on in life had a mostly older generation as attendants. I never thought that faith was about having a personal relationship with God. I just figured that I would take church more seriously when I got older and be just fine. I thought of God as someone to run to or to blame when something wasn’t going right in my life.
While growing up, I realized that I had a hard time keeping relationships. All throughout elementary, middle and high school, I never had the same group of friends two years in a row. I usually grew apart from them because they starting getting into things that I wasn’t interested in like popularity, partying, drinking or chasing after boys. Since I wasn’t into the same things they were, they ended up going out on the weekends, and I was left out. I would make new friends next year, only to have the same thing happen again.
Every time I lost another group of friends I would feel bitter and lonely. How could they do this to me? How could God let this happen to me again? I had put so much effort into my friendships only to have them throw it away and leave me all alone.
In my junior year, I really believed that I had a solid friend group. I shared my difficulties with friendships in the past, and they all promised to never let that happen to me again. I was crushed when I saw them starting to make new friends, chasing after boys and drinking. This was the last straw because they promised they wouldn’t do that to me like everyone else had.
I was so upset and angry at the situation I was in. I felt like I was on my own and could only depend on myself. There was no point in relying on relationships because they would only hurt me in the end. I hit rock bottom. I started avoided everyone and cut off most of my relationships. I would shut myself up in my room away from my family and missed figure skating practices, which I loved. I also fell back into destructive sexual sin, which I had been struggling with for the past four years. This time it took over. I knew it was wrong, and that it wouldn’t help me in the end, but I didn’t care. I thought that I was only hurting myself. I had no idea the kind of damage it would cause on every future relationship I would ever have.
I decided that with any new relationships, it would be easier to not get attached to any one. It was much easier for me to be the funny girl of my new friend groups. I took a lot of pride in being the person that people came to when they need to talk or going through something tough. I centered my relationships around the other people so that they feel loved and cared for, while I would push away my feelings to keep up a facade of being indestructible. I didn’t let people get close enough to even have the option of hurting me. Because of those decisions, I continued to feel alone and ran back to the comfort of old destructive habits.
My friends my senior year were all strong Christians. When I came to college, I was looking to learn more about God, my faith, and make friendships that had potential to be stronger than any in the past. My CA in my dorm invited me to Cru. At first I felt so out of place because I had no idea what some of the people were talking about, but everyone I meet through Cru was so encouraging and supportive. I continued to attend Cru and my bible study, but I felt like I was just going through the motions. I didn’t have a relationship with God, which was something that everyone kept talking about. Later that fall I decided to go on Cru’s fall retreat. I thought that I could meet more people and have a nice weekend out in the woods away from campus. Little did I know that on this retreat, I would find what I was missing in my life.
Throughout the retreat I learned more about what it is to be a Christian and what it means to live my life for Christ. On the last night, my small group leader pulled me aside. She asked me straight up what my relationship with Christ was like. I told her that I didn’t feel ready to put my trust in him because I felt like I needed to get my life in order before I brought him into it. She told me that God doesn’t want me to wait to let him into my life because there is no perfect time. He knows exactly where I am and wants to be apart of my life right now. I had never heard someone explain God’s love for me in that way, it was exactly what I needed. So I decided that night to start taking my faith seriously and to center my life on Christ. My small group leader prayed with me, that I would take the first steps of walking along side God, that I would keep Him as my life’s focus, and that I would trust in him with my future. With this prayer and life adjustment, I now had a guarantee of salvation that nothing could take away from me. I had been given exactly what I didn’t even know I was searching for.
Since I started my relationship with God, I have grown more that I thought was possible in a year and have learned so much about my faith. I don’t need to keep up the façade that I am all put together because I know that I’m a sinner and will continue to sin for the rest of my life. I know that my Creator’s love and forgiveness for me is unconditional and unfathomable, and that I can’t do anything to loose it. I have also learned that my God is always with me, through struggles and through triumphs. I now have a strong and healthy community of friends that are there to keep me accountable, challenge me, forgive me and love me every day. Once I put God at the center, He put everything else in order for me.