My Testimony

 

Disclaimer: This is an entire chapter long but it has the potential to be very powerful and effective for someone who needs to read it. Even if you read it in spurts, I pray that you will and that you will share it with someone who may need to see it ❤

I grew up attending Fairview Baptist Church in Mayfield, KY. Yes, I am a small town, country girl. I think the population is around 10,000 plus, including some cows and chickens. I was in church every Sunday, sang in the choir, ushered once a month, attended all Young Missionary meetings/events and of course, Vacation Bible School in the summer. That was actually my favorite because if nothing else was accomplished, I always walked away with some fabulous macaroni and paper plate creation.

I was baptized when I was 11 years old but that didn’t make a difference in my belief or relationship. I was only 11. All I knew was that I believed Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior and if I didn’t get baptized, I wasn’t saved and I couldn’t drink good grape juice and eat that stale cracker every first Sunday until I was. I liked grape juice so I was all about it.

Church was always more like work than somewhere I actually wanted to go. I never really enjoyed it and I never really learned anything. Maybe it was because I ate candy on the back pew during service or passed notes in choir instead of listening but the messages never really resonated with me. The only message that ever really stuck with me was: Jesus Christ died for my sins and if I didn’t act right, I’d be in trouble. While I never understood the full extent of what His dying for my sins meant, I was always moved by Jesus and the worship of Him. I always felt there was a presence in church that was holy and sacred and now looking back on it, I fully realize it was because I was surrounded by so many people who truly knew Him, knew God’s word and believed it. That holy feeling (what I now recognize as the Holy Spirit) was so strong because every time I was in that presence, I cried, or felt extremely overwhelmed and humbled. But when service was over and I left church, all I thought about was dinner Sunday afternoon and school the following week.

Fast forward to my college years. Since I was so burnt out on church as a kid and forced to participate in all things churchy, I wasn’t really trying to get up every Sunday and go. Especially since my mom wasn’t there to make me. I had guilt about that. But that guilt was more about not engaging in the routine of worshipping every Sunday than it was about being distanced from God because the reality was when I was going to church before, the only thing that made me closer to God was being amongst other people who were. Knowing what I know now, I had no personal relationship at all and my connection to the Holy Spirit was borrowed, you could say.

Another Disclaimer: As I got further into my teen years, our church had a new leader, Rev. Leroy Brent, but at the time, of course, I had already mentally clocked out of church. Since I have been born again, however,  I can honestly say that when I attend my home church now, he is an AMAZING teacher and TRULY knows the word of God. I was just way too checked out to appreciate what he had to say when I was younger. Our church is beyond blessed to have him.

Around the age of 19-20, my boyfriend at the time was reading this book called “Left Behind”, and he told me that I really needed to read it because it was a good book. Well, that was one thing I did love. I loved to read and I was all about a good book so I read it…and I was terrified!  Now, here’s a disclaimer: I’m not saying that I took the book as truth. I didn’t.  But what I did take away from it was the full life that existed behind the story of Jesus Christ and that His return was actually a real, true event to occur at some point in our lives. It was like a light bulb went off and all I could remember thinking was: “why have I never realized this? Why has this never sank in? Have I not been listening all this time?!” Like I said earlier, maybe it’s because I was too busy eating candy or passing notes in church or maybe it was simply because I learned differently. I’m a very visual person and this book painted some horrifying images for me. Whatever the reason was behind seeing the full picture at that time in my life,  I had to know more. From that moment on, I was on a journey to seek Jesus Christ. Little did I know, however, it would still be years before I  learned what it really meant to “seek” Him.

Reading that book gave me a visual of what it would be like for God’s presence to be completely stripped from this earth and that scared me.  I read the rest of the “Left Behind” series and I started attempting to read the Bible but I just couldn’t understand it. Being such a visual person, I couldn’t grasp a full picture of the Bible. I couldn’t visually grasp the age they lived in, how they dressed, what their malls, restaurants, and bars looked like (that’s a joke…), etc. I just didn’t know how to visualize that story, how to make it come to life for me.  I thought that if I went to church, listened and took the lessons that they taught and studied the scriptures behind those lessons, that would help but it didn’t. Scriptures were always taken from different parts of the Bible and it was hard for me to gather understanding of these scriptures beyond how they applied to my life in that present day. Let me be clear and honest though:  It wasn’t because I wasn’t able to learn.  I could have easily gone to the library, gathered resources and started piecing timelines and geography together.  I just wasn’t ready to commit to learning. I was young, soon to graduate from college and I was having a ball.  Besides, at the time I still only saw the bigger picture of a relationship with Christ in context of believers/non-believers, heaven/hell, so even if I did decide to dive deeper at the time, I had no idea that all I had to do was surrender my life and ask God to guide me. I’m quite sure that all those times I was eating candy in church,  my pastor mentioned how to go about this but for some reason, all of these things were just cliches or sayings to me. I thought I was only supposed to talk to God when I prayed for someone who was ill, blessed my food or had some very serious issues. It never registered to me that I could ask Him to help me learn more about Him. So, my search for Him remained on the surface level.  I went to church, paid my tithes, became more active in the church community, etc. I thought these were things I had to do and I was willing to do all of them but there was this one little area where I had a problem… the surrendering part. I loved going out with my friends, having fun, having a boyfriend, etc. Not that going out, having fun and having a boyfriend was prohibited. But all of the things these activities led to could get me in a good amount of trouble, as far as my walk with God was concerned. I knew those things were a distraction and I thought I had to remove those on my own in order go before Him (not true, but I didn’t know). In addition to that, I had goals and dreams of moving to New York and becoming an actress. So while I wasn’t ready to fully submit, I was fully aware of his presence.  I continued to seek Him here and there but there was no full-fledged commitment behind it. My “seeking” was completely in vain.

Fast forward to 2009, I was 32 years old.  I had been in New York now for about 4 years (since 2005), attended acting school, booked some jobs here and there and I had decided I wanted to go to LA by the summer of 2010. I was sick of the bad weather in NYC but more than that, I had started to feel as if I had hit a wall. Not career wise though, because honestly, I had only begun to scratch the surface. I  graduated from my acting school and while I was auditioning and getting great feedback from my auditions, I felt like there was something more I should be doing. I was feeling as if I was nowhere accomplishing what I had been put on this earth to do. At the time, I thought that “something more” meant I should be taking charge, being my own boss and creating roles for myself instead of waiting for them to come to me. I worked in advertising before deciding to chase my dream as an actor so I was used to being a go-getter. However,  the thought of creating for myself didn’t really motivate me. My whole driving force for wanting to act in the first place was never about me being in the spotlight. I just loved acting and I saw it as a creative way to eventually get to a place where I could create things that helped and inspired other people. So to sit down and write a starring vehicle for myself wasn’t really my thing. I did create something but I found more joy in writing funny roles for my actor friends than I did for myself.

Also, at the time, I was engaged to a guy who had been in the business for a while and he was great at the business of acting. He was always making his own way and when you’re surrounded by that type of presence on a daily basis, you feel like you have to be making it happen too. But still, it all just didn’t sit well with me. I really couldn’t care less about creating roles for myself. For me, it felt so self-absorbed and everything just felt off.

I eventually admitted to myself that I was stuck and admitting that made me depressed. Here I was, only beginning to scratch the surface of the professional level of the acting game but honestly, that wasn’t what my heart wanted. I was no longer motivated to “hustle and grind” my way through the entertainment industry. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t stand the industry but that’s for another blog post. Of course, as an actor, that’s what we’re supposed to do if we ever want a chance to make a decent living at it but I just kept feeling as if this wasn’t where I was supposed to be.  However, I had packed up 2 suitcases, left my family back home and spent the past 4 and half years hustling hard, working tons of acting jobs for no pay and studying my butt off, all to get better and gain experience.  I couldn’t stop and question whether or not this is where I was supposed to be.  This HAD to be right!

In the summer of 2010, I moved to L.A. with my fiance. Despite feeling like there was more I needed to do in my heart, I tried to dismiss that feeling by telling myself I was just feeling stagnate in New York and that once I got to L.A. with better weather, more acting opportunities and bigger apartments (with no roommates), I would feel better. That was a lie. I just didn’t know it at the time. The one thing I did know was the first thing I wanted to do in L.A. was find a church home and I did, a temporary one at least. I started out going to West Angeles Church of God in Christ and to be honest, I didn’t even know it was a COGIC when I went but that didn’t make any difference to me. I had realized a long time ago that the true word of God is not denominational and I went to the church because I heard from friends that Pastor Blake was amazing. They didn’t lie, he is. I attended service there for a little while and I felt like I was getting good life lessons through the word but something in me wanted more. One time, I heard Pastor Blake mention that they were holding an intense course of study on the Bible and I was so interested in that. I remember getting so excited at the thought of being able to study God’s word beneath the surface of what I already knew. But of course, the first thing that crept into my mind was: “girl, you just got to LA and you’ve gotta hit the pavement, find an agent, find a commercial agent, find a new class, get new headshots, etc. When are you gonna have time for that?”  A few months into attending service at West Angeles, I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t able to follow Pastor Blake’s sermons anymore. While he’s a fantastic pastor, it was like God was telling me to go somewhere else because the message I needed wasn’t there. So I stopped attending service there and started looking for another church but in between that search, there was an interruption…

Around that time, my fiance and I broke up and this was just months after we moved to LA. We moved there July 1st, and this happened in November, Thanksgiving weekend. This didn’t stop my search for another church, however. As a matter of fact, going through this painful break-up, I needed God’s strength more than ever. One of my good friends, who I had shared my desire for a closer relationship with God with, was a life saver for me. And when I say life saver, I mean REAL life, as in, my life in Jesus Christ. She had already started that journey I was trying to find my way on. She recognized that in me, bought me a Bible and had it sent to my house. I truly thank God for her every day. Because of her life in Christ, she was able to recognize that desire in me and she helped me along. She was already an amazing friend before but that just put her on another level of amazing.

I started studying my Bible on my own to the best of my ability while I was still looking for a good pastor who could instruct me on the word. Someone who did more than teach the moral code of the Bible, how it applied to our daily lives, etc. I wanted to know more of God’s bigger picture because I just knew that when it came to purpose, being successful career wise and helping people out here and there couldn’t be the ultimate goal. Life couldn’t possibly just be about what I wanted. We couldn’t all be here to self-serve and just help others in our spare time, right? Eventually, someone told me about another pastor, Pastor Toure Roberts of One Church International and once I started sharing my desire to find a good church with more people, I discovered that a few actor friends I knew actually went to One Church. So, I thought I’d give it a shot and I tagged along one Sunday in 2011, with a good friend of mine.

You know how God tries to get our attention by speaking to us through the sermon? When you go to church, even if you haven’t been in months, it’s as if the pastor is saying exactly what you need to hear? Well, that’s what happened when I went to One Church for the first time. Now grant it, this has happened several times in my life (when God is trying to reach you, he will try thousands of times until you are reached) but THIS time, I was ready because, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, right? It’s about us being open to receive it. God is ALWAYS delivering. We’re just not always home to accept the package. Anyway, Pastor Toure’s sermon that day was inspired by Genesis 12, when God told Abraham to go from his country, his home, his family, etc., and He was going to bless him and make him a great nation. Pastor Toure’s sermon was titled something like, “Separating Yourself for Greatness”. I knew this message was for me but it wasn’t because it was what I wanted to hear. It was what I needed to hear. At that moment in time, my fiance and I were no longer in a relationship but we were still living in the same apartment together. We had just signed a lease a couple of months prior to breaking up, I didn’t have enough money for another move, not to mention, I loved my apartment! It was pretty fly. I didn’t want to leave because I knew that leaving would mean putting my pursuit of acting on hold and possibly working two jobs in order to be able to afford a move into an apartment that would be nowhere near as great as the one I was in. Separating myself meant making a couple of sacrifices that I was nowhere near ready to make. However, as I mentioned before, I KNEW this message was for me. I KNEW I had to get somewhere, get quiet, get still and put all of my focus on seeking God. This time, however, it wasn’t about not being ready like it was in my 20s. I was afraid and looking back on it, my thinking was quite trivial.

I kept going to One Church and even when I couldn’t go to the service physically, I was tuning in online every Sunday. He was speaking directly to me and I had to get this word. Couldn’t miss out on it. However, there was still a gap between my mental and spiritual and I didn’t even realize it.  Here’s what I mean: Pastor Toure preached a lot about “purpose” and “the kingdom of Heaven” but at the time, I wasn’t fully aware of what “purpose” meant. It wasn’t connecting for me. To me, “purpose” meant, what we’re supposed to do with our lives career wise and how we’re supposed to use that to positively affect others. Looking back now, I’m able to realize that I was trying to fit God’s purpose for my life into my purpose for my life. In other words, I was doing it backward. I just didn’t realize it. However, even with doing it this way,  I couldn’t see how spending my days and nights in pursuit of an acting career was going to help further God’s purpose, His kingdom. If  I didn’t know anything else, I knew that the bottom line wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about being successful, comfortable and happy. Not that God doesn’t want those things for us BUT, he definitely doesn’t want us to want those things more than we want Him and at the rate I was going, my career was definitely my god and I didn’t even realize it.

As I mentioned previously, Pastor Toure preached a lot about the “Kingdom of Heaven”. He talked about how, our gifts, talents, etc., were all given to further God’s coming kingdom and if what we were doing wasn’t contributing to that and built on that foundation, then all we were doing was for nothing. Well, at the time, I had no idea what that meant but all I knew was, God is the end all, be all and if what I’m putting all of my time and effort into doesn’t contribute to His overall plan, it’s pointless. I didn’t even have a full concept of what the Kingdom of Heaven was but that didn’t matter to me. I knew I had to dig deeper and figure that out on my own time but like I said, what I figured out immediately was, I’m here to work for Him. I just had to get to the “how” and “what” part.

*Another Disclaimer here: Please understand I am not saying that in order to pursue a relationship with God, everyone needs to completely abandon what they’re doing. I’m not saying that at all. However, for my life, where I was and the amount of time and energy I was putting into making things happen for myself (i.e. ALL of my time and energy), I needed to re-arrange some things.

I continued to seek more and more. I told God that I surrendered to Him and I wanted His will over my own and I meant that. However, I was still confused about my talents and gifts and how that all fit into my purpose.  Looking back, at the time I thought that meant whatever it was I chose to do as a career should also be my work for the kingdom. I realize now that line of thinking stems from the fact that as Americans, our entire lives normally revolve around our careers. It’s where we put most of our efforts, sometimes at the risk of our family, friendships, etc. But I digress…

I was also confused about what it meant to fully surrender because while I wanted God’s will over mine, I knew I still had to do my part. I just wasn’t clear on what “doing my part meant” and I didn’t want to be lazy, sitting around, waiting for something to happen.  I kept pursuing my career and my requests and prayers before God were more about, “God, if it’s your will for me to book this job, please let it be so”. But you know, the more I prayed for those things, it seemed like the more doors would close. As a matter of fact, it seemed like doors were closing EVERYWHERE in my life. From acting gigs and audition opportunities to getting survival jobs just to pay my bills. I had NEVER had so much financial struggle in my life and I was so confused. I mean, here I am, fully surrendering to God (or so I thought), spending time reading the word when I can, praying, writing, sitting in quiet spaces just to hear His voice, truly seeking and NOTHING was going my way. I even got to a point where I would book commercials and THEN I would get a call telling me that they decided to go in another direction. For real God?! You’re gonna give me the job and then take it back?! Not only that, I got fired from my survival gig at the time and I had NEVER been fired. I wasn’t the “firing” type. Not to mention in these jobs, I was facing so much opposition. I was working with personalities that were BEYOND difficult. Yet,  all of this wasn’t enough to make me realize that it was time to walk away, get somewhere quiet and stop trying to force things to go my way. No, I take that back: I did realize it but of course, I was being defiant and I couldn’t give up. I kept telling myself,  “these things happen all the time as an actor and I’m not supposed to run away. I have to stick it out longer because it’s only been about 6-8 years (all of this was between 2011-2013) of hardcore pursuit and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the professional world. I can’t give up”.

So as you can see, I prayed to God and raised the white flag of surrender…just not fullIy. My surrender flag was flying more at half-staff. I was still taking auditions, going to casting workshops, talking to other friends about doing our own projects together. I was just trying to find some way to hold on to my passion and creativity. I even started vlogging on YouTube because someone convinced me that it would be a good way of showcasing my comedic ability. But even that was short-lived for me because I wasn’t really interested in showcasing myself. I was more interested in the emails and comments I received from teenagers who watched my videos, asking for advice on life goals, relationships, etc. I loved that part of it. The only thing was, I was even hesitant to give THAT advice. Here I am, separated from my fiance and confused about where my career was going so how could I give advice on either? I mean, I could tell them what not to do. That may be helpful, no? That caused me to step away from making videos and while I loved making them, I wanted them to be about more than just me being funny, etc. I dipped in and made a video every once in a while because I didn’t want to seem like a flake to the people who had started watching my YouTube channel. Plus, I seemed to be caught in a cycle of not finishing projects I had written, etc., and I didn’t want to keep walking away from things because that wasn’t me. That wasn’t who I was at all and I didn’t understand why I kept doing that. I wasn’t recognizing, though, that it was actually my heart and desires changing. I was truly desiring what God wanted for me, more than what I wanted. Hey, I asked for it, didn’t I? I asked Him to give me what He wanted me to have over what I wanted. I just wasn’t recognizing that, continuing to be hard-headed and continuing to fight it.

In October of 2013, I finally decided to walk away from the pursuit of acting full time. I decided to go back to New York because I told myself if I went back there, I could focus more on creating projects, continue to try and get closer to God and be somewhere where it was easy for me to get survival freelance gigs, pay my bills, etc. New York was never lacking work opportunities, not for me at least. I could always find a job if I wanted one. By going back to NY, I tricked myself into thinking that I was surrendering more. By walking away from acting, I was giving God more control over my life. That wasn’t true at all though because if that’s what I was doing, I wouldn’t have moved to a place where I still had access to those opportunities and could jump back into it if I wanted to. So basically, if you imagined me sliding down a rope, I was hanging on for dear life,  sliding only about an inch at a time, instead of just loosening my grip and sliding down easily. That really does describe my surrendering process perfectly.

After two weeks of being back in NYC, I found a temp gig working at Carnegie Hall, which was AMAZING and my boss there was like a breath of fresh air. After working with a string of, let’s just say “difficult” personalities in the entertainment industry, she was living proof that you could be a woman holding an esteemed position, be great at your job and be overwhelmingly nice at the same time. Wait: let me be fair: there was another boss I had in the entertainment industry that was actually a wonderful woman who had a great deal of influence and power in that industry. She was an amazing human being, had an amazing family and always treated me with kindness and respect. I can honestly say I would have continued working for her much longer, had other forces/personalities in her company not made it so difficult. I said all of that to say, while the entertainment industry can be shady, not everyone in it is. There are some people who truly have good hearts and beautiful spirits. But again, I digress…

In addition to working at Carnegie Hall, I connected with a long time friend of mine in NYC and we were planning to create digital content together. I was a little excited about that; however, I was in such a different place spiritually and that kept tugging at me. While we had come up with all of these great comedy ideas and sketches, my heart wasn’t necessarily in it. I kept asking myself, “how am I going to find the time to focus on God if I’m working to pay bills and trying to build a mini digital empire?” I mean yeah, I could have read scriptures or something a few minutes every morning and evening but I craved more than that when it came to my time spent with God.  I knew I was still going about building that relationship all wrong but I didn’t want to admit it. Not out loud. So I just kept going. Still trying to hold on to any aspect of my creativity that I could and be in control of it. I was still seeking God but not consistently, not enough. Only when I could. I’d wake up some mornings before going to work and get an hour in here and there but that wasn’t enough. I started to feel like I was going throughout my day-to-day, forcing things to happen and that’s what I had to do. I couldn’t give up. I was still trying to fit God into MY plan, not vice versa. Still holding on to that need to “make something happen”.

By the time that New York winter hit, I was MIS-ER-A-BLE! Heck, that was one of the main reasons I left in the first place so WHY did I come back to this?! At least when I was in California trying to find my way, I had the sunshine to keep me sane! What was I thinking?! In addition to that, where I was staying was almost an entire mile, each way to get to and from the subway and I had to trek out in that, rain, sleet or snow. Yet, I was STILL trying to make it work. That fear of being looked at as a quitter/failure was frightening to me and I couldn’t do that. My temp gig ended in January 2014. My boss at Carnegie Hall had actually talked to me about taking the job on permanently but knowing what I was going through and that my heart and head were all over the place, I couldn’t do that to her. She deserved someone working for her who wanted to grow with the organization and I didn’t want to rob anyone of a career opportunity just because I needed a job. However, once I left there, I couldn’t find a job to save my life and when I DID finally find one, again in the entertainment industry, (end of February), it was another one of those beyond difficult personalities I was working with and I quit after only a month of being there. This was the final straw. It was time to go and I decided that May 31st, I was packing my bags and I was out.

*Sidebar: I know that saying “I couldn’t find a job to save my life” after only 6 weeks or so seems a bit dramatic but you have to understand: in New York, that was a rarity for me. When I first moved there in 2005, I got there on a Friday and had a job by Tuesday.

My cousin Megan was living in Kentucky at the time and she told me I could come and stay with her for a few weeks. Megan was used to living by herself so to even let me come and invade her space was a big deal. I am forever grateful to her because even though she probably wanted to just take me and my suitcase and throw me over her balcony several times, she didn’t. At the time, I never really shared with her the deep inner struggle I was going through because she had her own life things going on and I didn’t want to weigh her down. She was in the process of completing grad school and figuring out her next steps. The last thing she needed was to play psychiatrist to her older cousin. I spent my mornings/days locked in her guest bedroom, reading, writing, talking to God, reading spiritual books, etc. Just trying to figure it all out. However, I wasn’t really reading scriptures a lot because I wanted to read more encouraging, spiritual books (not realizing at the time that the word of God is BEYOND encouraging)  and things that encouraged me creatively. I thought that with a combination of spirituality and creativity, I could write things that would help other people. Grant it, I hadn’t yet figured out what I was helping them to but I was trying. While I was doing all of this soul searching, I had always heard a voice in the back of my mind telling me, “read My word, Stephanie. Read My word. You’re going to find what you’re looking for. Just read My word”. Did I read it? A little but not consistently. I just knew that it was going to take so much work to sift through all of that difficult language. So, still not realizing that all I had to do was ask Him to guide me and reveal the things to me that He wanted me to know, I kept on beating around the bush.

I did feel like I was getting closer to my desired relationship with God, however. Even being able to hear Him tell me to read His word was a major accomplishment! Maybe it was because I had removed myself from the constant hustle and pressure of the entertainment industry. Feeling like I had to “make something happen”, etc. I was relieved that I had put myself in a situation where I didn’t have options to audition, make projects, etc. I was finally in a place where I could solely focus my attention on God. And while I hadn’t planned to stay in KY., I was so relieved at the peace and quiet I had found, I decided to stay and focus more on getting closer to God because while I had started talking to Him more, getting into the word and fully submerging myself in it was still a challenge and I knew at some point, I had to do it.

Fast forward to a couple of months later. I got a place of my own and I was determined to finally sit my butt down and dig into the word of God. I recommitted myself to a FULL surrender through prayer and I was in it to win it! I was getting up at 5:30-6am to read, write and pray. I was learning so much! So many things were revealed to me that I had never even heard of!  And finally, FINALLY, I had come to understand what Pastor Toure meant about purpose and the Kingdom of Heaven and ever since I’ve grasped this meaning, I haven’t looked back. I’ve been hooked on increasing my knowledge of God’s word and wisdom ever since. Of course, my eyes have been opened to some things about the world that shocked me and at times, I feel like I swallowed the red pill but hey, I’d rather live in an uncomfortable truth than a glorious lie. This is where I am now. Constantly learning, constantly growing, constantly making mistakes but forever committed to the purpose of contributing to God’s Kingdom on earth…now that I know what that means.  I have finally learned how to let Him guide me, vs. trying to guide myself. Of course, it’s still a struggle at times. There are still parts of me that want to be in control of things here and there but the chaos that comes with doing things my way always puts me back in my place. I now know why scriptures say we have to die daily to ourselves and boy, is it tough.

SO, as you can see, my journey closer to Christ has been a long, complicated one. The complicated part being self-inflicted. Had I pursued this relationship sooner, there’s no telling where I would be now. I was probably never meant to go to New York, California, pursue acting, or maybe I was, who knows? I’m not going to use the cliche, “sometimes God takes us through certain things in life in order to get us where he wants us to be” because I don’t believe that’s true. I believe that we take OURSELVES through certain things in life because we want what WE want over what HE wants. He gave us free will to choose. He just happens to be there when we’re ready to go where we’re REALLY supposed to be going and when we’re ready to get there how HE wants us to get there. I hope my story will inspire you to go on your personal journey to grow closer to Christ. I also pray that you’re way quicker to listen than I am.

What I hope you learned from reading this:

-Developing an intimate, personal relationship with God isn’t the hard part. The hard part is putting our own desires aside in order to be able to discern what His desires for our lives are. The hard part is getting quiet and listening and not feeling like you’re going to be missing out on life if you decide to dedicate your life to Jesus Christ and put Him first. To think that is the trick of the enemy. What Satan doesn’t want us to realize is: all we ever truly need is the instruction of God. All we truly need is to seek Him first. In order to achieve that, all we truly have to do is desire Him,  more than we desire our worldly things and ask that He shows us the way. What most of us don’t even realize is, it is God that we’re desiring.

What I learned on this journey:

-Looking back, I realize how forgiving and patient God really is. Before I truly knew Him, I would look at the world and wonder why He allowed so many bad things to happen. Now, I don’t see that at all. I use my own life as an example of how gracious and merciful God has truly been. He could have taken my life at any moment and I could have died, not knowing what a true relationship with Him is. That would have been the ultimate tragedy. I now look at life and say to myself, “wow, He has given me a multitude of chances to get this right and He didn’t even have to!” We’re so quick to focus on the bad and not realize just how much good He has really afforded each of us that are alive today.  If you are alive right now, you are here because He wants you here and He has something for you to do. You still have your chance to get it right!

-God truly does want to give us the desires of our heart, But when the desire for things of this world overshadows our desire for Him, that’s where we go wrong.

That’s all…as if that wasn’t enough. I hope my testimony has been enlightening, insightful, helpful, all that.