Friday, April 16, 2010

My story.

On Sunday, Rick and I are getting baptized. It's something we've talked about wanting to do for a while now. We filmed our testimony videos earlier this week and it was just as excruciating as I was expecting it to be! Can you say stage fright, anyone? Anything that involves me talking in front of a crowd or a camera makes me want to get down on the floor and curl up into the fetal position. The sad part is that my anxiety about the video is the biggest reason I've put off going through with it. Our church doesn't require that you film a video, but they do encourage it. And it makes sense - hearing about somebody's spiritual journey is such an inspiring thing. So I finally decided just to suck it up and share my story and I'm really glad I did. Even if I do still feel like crawling into the fetal position just thinking about everybody watching the video on Sunday.

I know that I am called by God to share my faith with others, but if I'm being honest, talking about religion has never come easy to me.  For some reason I have a lot of insecurities about sharing openly and putting my vulnerabilities out there for everyone to see. There are other reasons, too. I'm afraid that my words will get jumbled and I won't do Him justice. I'm scared that I'll offend somebody or come across as arrogant or judgmental. I'm worried that my Bible knowledge is inferior and I won't know what to say or that there will be awkwardness or tension or confrontation. All of these reasons are pretty lame excuses, though. God has done amazing things in my life and blessed me with far more than I could ever deserve. I finally realized that what I say doesn't have to be perfect or powerful; it doesn't even have to be convincing. I'm not here to preach to anybody. I'm here to simply share my story with those who might be interested and to bring glory to God in doing so.

I grew up going to church off and on as a child, but I hated it. I never developed a personal relationship with God and I didn't understand what it meant to be a devoted follower of Jesus. As a teenager, I felt like my world was falling apart. I won't go into too many details, but I was in a new high school in a new town in a new state. My dad was losing a battle to alcohol and drug addiction and our family was torn apart by it. If you have ever been close to someone with an addiction problem, you know that it involves much heartache and helplessness and rejection. I remember feeling so mad at God and betrayed by Him because he didn't resolve the situation the way I begged Him to. And I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of emptiness in my heart that left me completely broken.

So I did what I could. In an attempt to regain security, I attempted to regain control. After high school, I met a wonderful guy and convinced myself that if I could make him love me then I'd feel whole again. I started college, and convinced myself that if I could just get my life in order then I'd find peace. So I buried myself in my relationship and in my studies and in my job and any other distractions I could find along the way. I was busy chasing dreams and controlling my life quite nicely, and everything went along as planned. 

I graduated college and got married in the same busy month, and my career was blossoming. Everything was right on track. But as I finally began to slow down a little and the dust began to settle, I quickly realized that the feeling of emptiness -- the void in my heart that I had been running from for several years -- was still very much there.

At that point, Rick and I had been attending our church for about 2 or 3 years, but always pretty casually. But as I searched for fulfillment, God began to stir my heart. Every Sunday I left church in tears because I felt like the sermon was written just for me. They weren't tears of happiness, though. I was seeing glimpses of what my life was missing because I refused to give up the control that I thought I needed. I knew God was pursuing me, but I was still too stubborn and prideful to give in to Him.

It wasn't until the following year that things began to change for me. We finally took the plunge and committed to join what our church calls a small group, and despite my initial anxiety about doing so, it ended up being one of the best decisions I've made in my life. It was there that I was able to witness what an authentic relationship with God looked like through the awesome fellowship and transparency of others. And we made some great friendships that I'm certain will last a lifetime. {shout out to my bestie!}

I remember looking around the room one night at group and I could just feel God's presence there. And then I had an epiphany. It suddenly clicked in my mind that surrendering to God was not a sign of weakness and it did not mean defeat. Humbling ourselves to God doesn't mean we lose, it means we're set free. It is how we are designed - we are made to be His followers. And so that day, I vowed to devote my life to the Lord.

It really was such a freeing moment. I had been wasting so much energy trying to control my life, when in reality, I never had any control to begin with. All of the burdens I was stubbornly refusing to let go of were gone. All of my baggage, my worries, my guilt, they were wiped clean in that moment and I discovered the unconditional love that I had been searching for. The kind of love that only God can provide. Because of the work Jesus did for us on the cross, I have been reconciled to God, and through His grace, I have hope. And while I know that we are not promised to be spared from suffering and that I'll likely experience difficult or painful times in the future, I have such peace knowing that in those times God will be my source of strength, comfort, and endurance, and that he will never abandon me.

So there you have it. My very ordinary story of how I came to know my extraordinary Maker!



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

that was lovely. i am very proud of you both. mary

Tracye said...

Beautiful, eloquent post, Kelsey.

Thanks for sharing so much of yourself and your family.

I'm proud of you guys, too!

Paige said...

That was a great post. Thank you for sharing.

paige

Jeff Norman said...

"Humbling ourselves to God doesn't mean we lose, it means we're set free. It is how we are designed - we are made to be His followers. And so that day, I vowed to devote my life to the Lord." AMEN!!!

I think you underestimate yourself. That was powerful and gave me chills.

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