My journey story started a long time ago. I was brought up in a Catholic, Christian home, which I loved very much! I loved going to church, PSR, learning prayers etc. My parents were very diligent about attending mass every Sunday and following the Catholic traditions of Christmas, Lent, and Easter. They were great examples of what it meant to volunteer and give their time to help out at church, so growing up they modeled a Christian life for me and my brother. That was the life we led, but I didn’t understand what a relationship with Christ was or how to have one.
As a child, I always had this underlying sense of fear hanging over me. I lived in this constant state of the boogie-man getting me; my family even lovingly made up a song about me being scared all the time. In addition to being fearful for a good portion of my childhood, I always had a sense of not being smart enough. School was not easy for me and I had to put in a lot of extra effort to achieve what others could. I want to preface this by saying these thoughts of mine were not brought on by anyone other than Satan, the deceiver, but at the time I didn’t understand that. My parents showered me with nothing but love, but for some reason, I couldn’t seem to love myself.
“Perfect love cast out all fears.” 1 John 4:18
Underneath the huge smile that was always on my face, was a frightened girl who never felt smart enough. The fears started to fade into adolescence, but the confidence in my school work began to worsen. The older I got the harder the curriculum became. I didn’t want to put forth the effort, I was bitter and angry that I had to work harder. I was always capable, but the deceiver filled my head with thoughts of not being smart enough, so I bought into the lie. Rather than choosing to accept the fact that I had to work a little harder, I chose to put my efforts into my physical appearance. I identified my self-worth around my looks because that’s where my confidence was. Again, the deceiver had one up on me. I could just hear him saying, “Check mate!” Choosing God and working hard on my studies should’ve been the easy choice, however, I chose myself. To be quite honest, I had no idea what having a relationship with God was. I loved God with all my heart, I wanted to please Him, but I wasn’t familiar with His words or reading the Bible for that matter. In my heart I longed to have a deep relationship with God the Father, but I didn’t know where to start.
The beginning of my transformation and relationship started for me when I attended Missouri Baptist University where I learned more about the Bible and God’s word, but I still was nowhere near where God needed me to be. The big change came when my husband, Jason, and I joined Faith Lutheran Church, where I began to take part in more in-depth bible studies and we became very involved. The sermons at church really seemed to speak to me as well. We have been members there now for over eleven years and I’m still a work in progress.
I still occasionally hear Satan whispering to me, telling me I’m not smart enough. But now I know how to protect my mind by putting on the armor of God’s word. My Father, God, has taught me how to love myself because He first loved me. I know this to be true because the things I can do now are from Him. On my own, I can’t be what I need to be, but with Him, I am so very fulfilled. I want to scream at the top of my lungs how amazing He is! I want everyone I know to experience the true love of Christ because it saves us. I could only get there through the understanding of His word and acknowledging that I was in need of a Savior to save me from myself. This isn’t something that happens overnight, though. Until my Father calls me home, I will be a work in progress. For these reasons I cling to the words that Paul speaks of in this verse:
Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us in advance to do.