Recently I was asked to write out I guess what you would say is my traditional testimony…the before and after of Jesus in my life you might say. For me this had far too many facets and there is WAY too much back story for me to ever pull it together. Alas, it needed doing. So, although every time I read this I want to add or tweak it, I thought I would share one facet of my finding faith and what it did in my life…here goes:
What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a question that has been asked and answered for generations and across cultures. The idea of dreaming, thinking and setting a goal of what you want to be offers universal intrigue. Commonly this question is answered with career choices, or maybe with young ones you will get something fantastical like ‘a princess or a superhero’. It seems in our nature to make plans and efforts to prepare for what we want to see in our futures.
When I was 14 years old I was invited to a camp by a friend, and I had no idea in that two-week span my whole life and perspective would be changed. I had no idea I would finally know what I wanted to be when I grew up.
As a child I found myself never alone but often lonely. I determined from a young age that something had gone wrong in the plan for my life. I was not and the world around was not what it was supposed to be. However, I suppose if you had asked me what it was supposed to be like I would have only answered “I don’t know, different.” I always thought life should be just, more.
I am what you would call a passionate personality. I feel and exist in the extremes of life. I have always had a hyper sensitivity to experiences, images and words. Being like this since I was a child I can say that long as I can remember I have never done anything half way or half speed. In addition I was gifted with a quick mind, and the ability to form intelligent argument and rational. This has resulted in the majority of my life being a battle between what I know to be true and what I feel at my core.
Negotiating life with this chaotic personality always left me drawn to believing girls who seemed to hold themselves in a quiet, level regard were better than I was. Girls who I deemed to be full of grace and class. Girls who I saw as the standard, the standard I was so very far from achieving. Growing up one of my best friends had a quiet even paced personality, soft-spoken and graceful. I recall vividly just wanting to mimic all that she did, I wanted so badly to make myself like her. Although there was indeed an aspect of jealously in it, it was more that her personality was the expectation I was setting for myself and being like her was the goal I sought to accomplish.
Alas, no matter how much I desired or tried to go through life as an Audrey Hepburn, I found myself still just Lucille Ball with such chaos around me I had little to resort to but to shove all the chocolates in my face to try to hold it all together!
This increasingly became a bother, which grew to irritation and resentment and led me to a place where I questioned everything. I existed in a state of disappointment and sadness with a sincere lack of understanding of who I was, what my life was and an immense frustration that despite what I considered to be my best efforts I couldn’t change it. I found myself becoming irritated with anyone who even referenced my personality in a truthful way. Funny that it was not that I thought there was something specifically wrong, actually I enjoyed others with vibrant energetic personalities, but just that it was not what I would have chosen for myself.
Aside from that I passed through the stages of life in a fairly expected pattern of school, friends and family. Like most people in that journey I had moments where I faced mountains, monsters and valleys. Like most people I know what it is like to feel ripped apart at the seams both by joy and by heartache. I had roads I chose to take and battles I had no choice about, and managed through them all with What I considered relative success.
Through it all however the same questioned remained for me – “Why? Why was life not how I envisioned it should be?” I remember spending so much time sitting in my window sill talking out everything in my mind to the dark window pane, and over and over again I asked the same question “Why?” I never got an answer but every time I talked, cried or just sat by that window and let my mind empty itself of all it’s busyness I always left filled with a sense of peace.
As I mentioned earlier when I was 14 I was invited by a friend to a camp. I was a Christian camp. Having been exposed to church, hearing the Christmas story and reading my Children’s Bible, I had enough of a grasp on faith to be willing to attend without reservation. In our home I was taught manners, respect, honesty, fairness and kindness, although all in the realm of a secular upbringing. I was not promiscuous, did not drink, do drugs or really get into much trouble. My personality leant itself to a very healthy fear of authority and so, this Christian world was not shocking or foreign to me and I certainly was not expecting to be set up for any major revelations.
I listened to the speakers and my councilors and friends and never did I question much. It all seemed to make sense enough, and interestingly for someone with such an emotional personality I found my decision about faith very intellectual.
You see…it turns out I had known…for a long time. God introduced Himself many years before in my moments of loneliness, heartache and frustration. He knew me and had spent time with me. We had shared countless nights talking…me through my window and He to my heart. He just needed me to attend that camp so that I would understand the relationship He had already initiated.
About half way through our stay at camp there was a General Meeting Session. Everyone was singing “Jesus is the rock of my salvation his banner over me is love” and they began an altar call. I found the whole practice unusual and could not for the life of me figure out what the point was of going to stand at the front of a room and why it made any difference at all. Well within moments I found myself standing there at the front with a few others looking back awkwardly at a room of people. My councilor looked as though she would cry and the friend who invited my seemed so happy.
I realized in that moment what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a daughter of the King, a follower of Christ. A Kingdom driven and Kingdom bound woman of God.
Like everything I did in life, I started out my journey full speed ahead, going to church, reading devotionals and the Bible, small group, youth group, volunteering and going on trips. I soaked up my new-found faith.
Despite my belief that there would be no surprises or revelations for me, there were many,…and one revelation changed me completely. It started with these verses:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
God knew me. More so, He made me and I was completely and totally on purpose. He designed this energetic, fast talking, emotional, quick thinking, and passionate girl. I learned that I do not have to like every aspect of my personality to understand it’s potential of value. Imagine, to come to a place where I knew that even if I would have not have chosen certain things they are the very details and traits that
God has put in place to effect change in the world for His glory and His kingdom. It is not about what I am in a moment, it is what the potential is for me in the hands of God.
I look back now through the whirlwind of learning and realize that as my faith has grown and changed and formed…I have never for one moment since wondered if I or my life circumstance had purpose. Everything that I had experienced, who I was at my core, what I felt, what I believed, my family, my world was all with purpose. My faith defined me. It brought me to a place of understanding that my life is not always about me, at least not directly. Most importantly my happiness was no longer dependent on whether I was or life was what I thought it should be, but rather I had Joy that no matter what moment I was in, God could and would use it for His will and work to be done.
Life it turns out is not a journey of waiting for it to be exactly what we hoped or planned, but recognizing that every circumstance can be used or directed for greatness, and it won’t always be perfect in our view or what we would choose, and that is okay. It is more about the steps we take than the destination we reach. More about the words we say daily than the impact of a speech we give. It is the moments tiny and fleeting that defines who we are and what really matters. God, I have discovered is in the seconds, while we plan in the years. It changed everything for me…the way I think, the way I talk, the way I act…everything.
If you leave remembering anything of what I have shared, please let it be these two things;
- You have all you need within you to be part of a Kingdom sized plan and purpose for the world around you. You were created with the possibility and capacity to effect great change and make a great difference in every moment you have afforded to you.
- It is never too late, nor can the sense of urgency ever be enough that God is waiting for you, like He was me, to discover the relationship He has initiated and always been ready to offer. He knows you, and has been walking with you and He is just waiting for you to stop and realize He is there.
May today be the day you too decided what you want to be when you grow up. May today be the day you stand firm and determine that you will further more be Kingdom driven and Kingdom bound, because you have allowed your heart to open to the truth you have always had in your life that God loves you, His son died for you, He created you, and He forgives you. He made you on purpose, of that be assured…He is just waiting today, right now, for so many to claim that purpose for themselves.
Thank you for letting me share some of my story with you and may you be blessed with the purpose of God in your lives today.