Who is God? Where did he come from? What does he look like? How do I know he is real? Was Jesus real? But I can’t see him. Where are the facts? Like me, I’m sure these questions have flooded your mind at some point. I’m here to tell you I can’t answer these questions. I think we can do all of the research in the world and be smart enough to know that some things we will never find the answer to. There’s one thing I can tell you though and that’s my story.
I have nothing against any religion what so ever. I know that all churches and communities are different. I know that many have better experiences than I did. I think it is absolutely beautiful that people search for more at all and I have no disrespect towards anyone nor any faith. I have Buddhist friends, I have a Catholic boyfriend, stepmother and baby brother, I have Christian friends, atheist friends, friends who believe in science, friends who believe in nothing. Trust me when I say, I love them all the same. These are my experiences and not supposed to veer you from finding your truth. So please before you read this, do not take this as disrespectful. Just read my testimony and remember what you like from it.
Maybe you grew up in the church but during prayer instead of bowing your head and clasping your hands you would peek your eyes open, curious as to why you never found yourself in tears and connected like the people around you who claim to have “found God.” Maybe you constantly find yourself searching but don’t even know what you’re searching for. Maybe someone you love was taken from you and you’re positive there isn’t a God because God would’ve saved them. Maybe you are in a relationship where your partner just can’t fill your cup all of the way. Maybe you’re just over it. Maybe you’ve been assaulted, abused, homeless, on the run from life and you can’t wrap your head around the fact that there is really a God out there who loves you.
Well, I am here to tell you I was you. If you’ve read my other blogs you know that my faith has been tested.
I grew up in the church and was baptized Baptist. As a little girl, I loved God as much as I loved the Easter Bunny and Santa because I figured he was no different. My parents tried their best to keep me in a church as I grew up but I was constantly disappointed. I remember one time I loved the church we went to and the pastor that preached. Until he was having an affair with a young girl and died of a cocaine overdose. That was pretty much it for me, I was devastated and so so young. Then I joined a Presbyterian church at 13 and went away on a youth camp trip. I remember staring at my cabin ceiling while the girls and boys snuck away to do things they shouldn’t have been doing. They spent way more time doing that than preaching any kind of scripture. I tried again going to a Catholic church which was a beautiful place until I was told that I was not allowed to receive communion because I had not done all of my sacraments and was not a part of the Catholic church. I finally felt like I belonged nowhere. I remember tears falling down my face in church bathrooms because I would look at families who looked like they belonged there and I just wanted to belong too. God must be really picky about who he lets find him.
I couldn’t shake it. How was I supposed to believe when I didn’t belong? I didn’t even know what a relationship with God truly felt like. I found myself going months without church and feeling so empty. Prayers before meals or before bed weren’t enough. My best friend Brandon Warah played at a Christian church and he was such a positive person and loved to send me bible verses when I was down. I knew I felt good when he would send me those. I knew the miracle of childbirth, I knew there were good things that happened to me that I couldn’t explain, I knew what my soul felt, I just didn’t know how to connect with that. I mean how do you hold something intangible? After my mom found Jesus she would come home talking about church and bible study and she was so happy. That peaked my curiosity and planted the seed, especially when her life started changing. Then I went to my best friend’s church. It was great, everyone was nice and for the first time I was like “I don’t really connect with the messages but at least I’m surrounded by what seemed like good people who were happy to have me there.” Then we moved to LA. I had no idea my entire life was about to change.
When we first moved I was in a depression from August to November. I was out of my element. I didn’t have a church. I didn’t have friends. All I had was my boyfriend. There was nothing he could do to make me happy because he was adjusting too. One day, my friend Alicia and I got together and she invited me to a Church. I was skeptical but decided I knew I needed it. That following Sunday we went. As we walked up, there was no such thing as coming unnoticed. I was immediately greeted at the door and told they were happy to have me, the young man asked me about myself and I was guided to a seat with my friend. I’m sitting in my seat texting, the lights go off and I swear I thought we went to a concert instead of church. I was shocked and I didn’t know how I felt at first the worship team was on stage singing beautiful lyrics to songs I have never heard before with so much passion and by the second song everyone around me was singing with them, worshipping and unaware of what anyone thought of them. Their hands were up, some had tears streaming down their faces (including me) and there were smiles, everywhere. Then the lead pastor came on stage. He proceeded to give one of the most beautiful, heartfelt messages I’ve ever heard. He explained the scripture and for once I understood the passage and before I knew it, at the end of the service, I had raised my hand telling Jesus I was all in. In a place that passed no judgment but only love, I was finally home. Every day after this was brighter. I was coming home happier, praying more and building a relationship with God. I wish I could explain the feeling in my soul among these months. I wish I could explain what it felt like to let God in. People could argue with me all day that feelings and the mind is powerful and you can convince yourself there is a God when there isn’t. But when all of the questions you can’t answer dissipates and you step into the Unknown without fear, you just know. With every ounce of your soul, you know. The same way when you meet the love of your life and people don’t understand and don’t believe in it until it happens to them, you just know. You see the beauty and you see him everywhere in creation.
The next 11 months would be filled with the biggest blessings in my life. I didn’t hit the jackpot financially or anything. It was better. Suddenly, the deeper my faith the less I feared, the harder I worked, the more my relationship grew, the more I believed and the calmer I became. I was at peace. I learned to find solutions and overcome challenge instead of letting it stress me. I learned that God meets you in your toughest moments but that he also guides you to your greatest moments. It is still a work in progress but today I know I am doing well by how I handle the storm around me. Pastor Erwin said something I will always remember. I don’t want God to have to calm down the storm around me. I want him to see I can handle it that way I get closer to my purpose and am strong enough to receive his blessings. Nothing good happens in your comfort zone. Jesus was on trial day in and day out and he lived the greatest story we will ever know. I don’t want to die one day with untapped purpose, I want to have used it all. I could tell you about the multiple times’ money showed up unexpectedly in my life, or when God brought me to people who needed him and I had no idea what was unfolding. I could tell you about the people I’d meet and the crazy dream-like experiences I’d have but that would be minuscule compared to what God did in my heart. That is where everything changed. Inside. No amount of money, no success, no materialistic treasure will ever be in comparison to the priceless blessing of Jesus’s life in exchange for mine. I was baptized publically on the corner of Hollywood and La Brea on October 1, 2017, after raising my hand and walking straight out of church with all eyes on the others and I who declared Jesus was Lord. It was the most important day of my life.
My only wish is that my life will give other people life like I’ve found. That I could see others become whole.
One thing I have learned is that idolizing humans is never the answer. You will always be disappointed. Idolize no one. You can look up to someone who is seemingly where you want to be but I always say to look to Jesus for the answer of an example. Humans disappoint. We make mistakes, we are imperfect and we are flawed. I am not a perfect person. I am not a perfect Christian. I don’t do everything by the book. I am still learning and have things to answer to God for one day. But I know he still loves me. I know that day in and day out I try to be a better person and learn from my mistakes. All of our journeys are different and instead of passing judgment, we should be beacons of love and leave the judging to God.
This is my story. While there are so many beauties and mysteries not mentioned, I hope you find out for yourself one day.
*UPDATE* I came back and edited this to remove the name of the church I found in LA. I don’t agree with their ethics and the things I have found out. However, God is still great in my life! My relationship with him is greater than it’s ever been. What happened was after I was saved, I was blessed with discernment- the ability to judge well or in Christian contexts perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. My eyes were suddenly opened and I noticed a lot of wrongs there. Find a church that speaks to you and never stop the search. These days I am watching Pastor John Gray and diving into the Thrive women’s devotional bible! I actually read my devotional bible with my fiance.
Here’s a link for it here 🙂