I vividly remember sitting in the shower at Fripp Island, South Carolina when I was four years old and asking Jesus to come into my life. Reflecting on that moment now, it definitely was a funny time and place to have made a decision to follow Christ. Although I obviously had much to learn about trusting God, that day is etched in my memory as the day I began my relationship with the Lord.
During my grade school years, I participated in Vacation Bible School and Pioneer Clubs, which helped lay a foundation for my relationship with God. As a pastor’s kid, I logged many hours at church, and fondly remember playing in my dad’s office long after Sunday services had ended. Even at this early age, I loved inviting friends to attend church and sharing with them about Jesus.
The summer before entering eighth grade, I traveled with a national Christian singing group where we shared our faith through concerts. Taking the words of the songs we sung to heart, I resolved to honor God in my relationships and my responses to peer pressure. Returning home, I held firmly to my behavioral convictions, joined Bible studies, and traveled to Mexico on mission trips. However, I still had much to learn about giving grace and other components of a thriving relationship with God.
Upon graduating from high school, I was thrilled to attend a Christian college where I was surrounded by a community that encouraged my faith. My college years marked a time of intentional introspection as I grappled with my misconceptions about God and grew in my self-awareness. During these four years filled with soul-searching, friendships, and break-ups, I began to understand more about God’s character and how to be vulnerable with Him. As a result, my relationship with the Lord began to blossom into more than just saying the right words and doing the right things.
After college graduation, the authenticity of my faith was put to the test. Far away from my close friends and without a boyfriend (two crutches I had depended upon in the past), I experienced a remarkable freedom as I trusted God alone to satisfy me and released to Him my hope to be married, my desire to please people, and my fear of the unknown. By relying more on God, I began to comprehend that He loved me for who I was, not what I did. He didn’t love me more when I did everything just right, and He didn’t love me less when I missed the mark miserably. In sharp contrast to my previous performance-based relationship, my more mature relationship with God enabled me to candidly share with Him my questions, disappointments, and joys.
As I continue to genuinely engage with God, the security and confidence I experience flourishes. In order to maintain this satisfying connection, I have realized the importance of quieting myself to hear God’s truth by carving out uninterrupted time to study Scripture and communicate with Him. If I don’t reflect on how I am spending my time or what I am believing, I easily indulge the same lies and engage in the same behaviors that have robbed me of my contentment in the past. As I seek and cling to the truths in God’s Word and listen to His promptings, I am embracing more of who He is, who He says I am, and who He wants me to be. This has given me tremendous peace even as I encounter life’s challenges.