My life before Jesus was all about family, home, friends, community service and playing bridge. I lived a deeply Roman Catholic life. I was educated and married within the church, but attending Mass was obligatory and not fulfilling. It was a rule that I followed. I always sought out the fastest Sunday Mass. My marriage was unhappy - we stayed together “for the kids” but had constant money problems.
I committed to Jesus after my sister prodded me for years. I heard the message of salvation for the first time at 39 years old. I realized how empty I was and stepped out in the faith that I could and should be different. After attending a Life-In-the-Spirit seminar I prayed: “Dear Lord, please give me a hunger to have a personal relationship with You, a thirst for Your Word, and forgiveness for how I have lived my life, without a knowledge or understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, although I’ve called myself a Christian my entire life.
My life since committing changed gradually. In my rearview mirror I see a confidence from God I never had. I enjoy a serenity and a lack of guilt. I quit my marriage, alcohol and cigarettes. I am a better mom and enjoy deeper friendships… I released resentments I clutched tenaciously for decades. I have a deeper understanding and tolerance of human frailty. I am more forgiving. I walked (limped) through cancer, and disfiguring therapy without fear. I embraced my heritage as a Child of the King and never looked back.
I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus at a young age. I had a traumatic experience when a close friend spread terrible rumors about me to our whole youth group. I felt betrayed and alienated and started to lose trust in people. I still went to church on Sunday mornings, but didn't build a community or attend anything else. I was very hurt and bitter towards the church.
When I went to college, I told myself that I would continue to go to church on Sundays, but I never allowed myself to connect in a close-knit community of Christians. I began looking for other things for fulfillment - things that I knew were not a part of a God-honoring life. In my mind, my faith was between God and me. I did not want a community to tell me how to live my life or what my walk with God should look like.
After college I moved to NYC and continued this double lifestyle. I still attended church on Sundays, but refused to do anything else. I told myself that I would get enough sitting in a pew once a week. But I began noticing that nothing ever seemed to be enough. I didn’t have enough money. I didn’t have good friends. My work life wasn’t satisfying. I convinced myself that I just had to work harder to get what I wanted. After a year in Manhattan, I couldn’t do it any longer. I was broken and broke so I moved home to Libertyville, IL.
When back in Illinois, a friend confronted me and asked what I was doing, where I was going and what I was looking to for fulfillment. I couldn’t answer her. I felt so lost and lonely. She managed to get me to start attending a life group. As uncomfortable as it was to be in a community of Christians, I knew that I had to try something. Slowly began trusting the people in my group. I continued to go to group and began seeing God work within my life. It was something I hadn’t felt in years.
I came to faith about a year after I met my now-husband. When we met I thought I had life pretty well figured out. I thought I was a spiritual person, but I had this unsatisfiable longing within. I was into numerology, horoscopes, yoga and psychics. I thought Christianity was very outdated and boring.
When I met my now-husband, he was able to honestly challenge my spirituality on all levels. He didn’t sugar coat it when he told me I was led by my emotions and and "had no rhyme or reason to believe what I believed"... He had many lengthy conversations with me mostly asking me tons of deep questions that revealed my faulty logic. He introduced me to the Bible, C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity and Tim Keller's The Reason for God in the Age of Skepticism. After reading the books, it all made so much sense, even though it was frustrating to admit being so wrong at the time. But when I realized how truly lost I was and how I had finally found the source that could nourish and satisfy my soul. I saw my need for a Savior and realized I love Jesus. I repented of my many sins and accepted Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Savior.
I'm originally from Scandinavia and grew up culturally Christian, but far from knowing God or knowing what following Jesus means. In our culture Jesus and the Bible are almost considered bad words and are mainly used in a mocking, belittling, ugly way. It has been hard and painful to see my family that I love so deeply react with anger, disrespect and sincere worry for "my sanity"... My sense of belonging has changed from our biological family to my church family. I’ve gone from being my dad's girl to my heavenly Father's daughter. It's hard to love and honor your earthly dad while you know what you believe and live by does not please him, but it helps me when I remember that the father I want to choose to focus on loves me more than my earthly dad ever could. God wants me to be "the salt and light" and that is the best way to love my dad right now. I also remember that pleasing (agreeing with) my earthly dad would lead me to darkness.
So I cling to God’s Word. It's amazing how alive it is and how He has spoken more clearly and directly to my heart and my hurts than any person ever could. He knows exactly what I'm struggling with. When I read His word I know He knows me so much better than my earthly dad does and that gives me great peace. It also helps to be able to share prayer requests with my small group. They are always there to pray, love, support and walk along one's side through the hard moments.