My story starts pretty much like many others, I was born and raised in a Christian home. I assumed in my childhood that I was a Christian because that is what everyone that I knew claimed to be. God wasn’t really anything that I thought about besides the Sunday school stories I heard about Him. This changed in the time I was about 7 or 8 when my family started going to a church that made me terrified of God. My early relationship with Him that had been pure and that of a child’s then suddenly held a great deal of fear and after a while I wanted nothing to do with God. I did what was expected of me but decided that it was best not to dwell on a topic that made me so scared.
Moving on a couple of years, I was about 11 or 12 and at a youth camp. I can’t remember the exact moment that my perception changed, or even the exact scenario. The only thing I can remember is that the people at this camp were just so different to individuals I had encountered before. They changed my mind about God through how they described who He was to them. So I gave my life to Christ and for a reason other than fear. There was a change, however slight in me, and that slight change turned into something much bigger.
A couple of months after the camp, my family moved to a different town, where God started opening doors for me to learn more about Him and grow in my faith. The first was exposing me to a church and youth group that till this day plays a huge role in my life. The people that I met there helped me to grow in my faith and in my relationships. My perspective of God changed greatly.
During the course of the past 8 years since the youth camp, my faith and walk with God has had a lot of ups and downs. As Christians (never mind as people) we can expect things to happen to us that we don’t understand. I don’t understand a lot of the things that have happened to me and I am still not ready to share them all. I can tell you however about the work that God has done in my life the last 3 years.
I was homeschooled most of my life, including all of high school. Anyone who has been homeschooled before will know that it has its own unique challenges. During my last year of school, my grandfather passed away, being the victim of a very rare and very aggressive cancer that he had been diagnosed with only 8 months before. This was a really tough time for me both spiritually and emotionally and like all challenging times do, it taught me many lessons about myself I would honestly still like to be ignorant about.
It was only by the grace and mercy undeserved that my family and I were able to make it through that in one piece. I can see clearly now when I look back on it that He was there for me every day when I really didn’t have the strength otherwise. Realising this I knew I wasn’t even nearly ready for varsity. So I took a year off in 2015 to see where God was going to lead me.
After a few months, way over confident in myself, I thought that I had it figured out. Degree, the right university (which accepted me readily), steady relationship, good friendships. It was going very well with me. Then I got blindsided by several things going wrong one after the other. My dad started losing sight in his eyes and needed an expensive operation, which plunged my family head first into a financial crisis. It was a highly stressful time, but we kept saying that God will provide somehow. And He did, throughout the whole year when we were all full of despair about how we were going to make ends meet. He also provided me with strength and support when the relationship that I had been in for 3 years ended quite badly.
Everything just felt like it was going wrong. Everything that I had grown to depend on suddenly wasn’t there anymore. My dreams were all shattered and I had no idea what to do from there. Also the resistance to my Christian lifestyle was suddenly worse than ever before from my friends. Staying true to my faith and how I knew God wanted me to live was harder than it has ever been. I often just cried out to God for help, though many times it felt like He wasn’t really providing me with any way out of the mess that I was in. He did provide, but in His way-the better way-not my way which consisted of “Please just take it all away Lord, it is too much.”
Through all of this, God had a plan. He showed me His plan, which was very different from my own. He made me realise a new dream, but first I had to realise what was important again. I had to blindly trust that He knew what He was doing and that things will get better. This is probably one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn so far. When I let everything go and put my full trust Him, He provided me with a way to the right varsity and the right degree and provided me with the right people in my life. The support I received from these wonderful people I am always going to be grateful for. Circumstances also worked out in a way that allowed me to start writing for this blog. (Something that I am truly grateful for!) Most of all though, 2015 made me grow in my faith and in myself.
God knew what He was doing and exactly how much I could take. He carried me through the tough days and still gives me strength that isn’t my own to face every new day and challenge. If there is just one thing that I want anyone reading this to realise, it’s this: Once God has got you, He has got you and nothing, no power on earth or in Heaven can come between you and Him no matter how you feel.
Also never underestimate the power of prayer, it will strengthen you in ways nothing else can. And sometimes all you need when nothing else is left is to sing off key at the top of your voice to your favourite worship song.
In conclusion, I only heard this song a few days ago, but it summarised what I felt perfectly. Everyone has their own story to associate to a song like this, it is called “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. I would highly recommend that you listen to it. Think of it as a summary for if you didn’t quite get what I meant with this post!