Growing up, I spent most of my Sundays in Church. My grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher, my mom taught Sunday school, and my dad led praise and worship. Church was what you did on Sunday and I eventually came to realize that a relationship with God was necessary too, so I had one. I don’t even truly remember what my motivations were throughout those early high school years- salvation, being “enough”, approval? Those were all possibilities, but I do know one thing- my relationship did not stem from a true, devoted, overwhelming love of Christ. Because of this, I did not allow this relationship with Christ to affect any parts of my life. I was lukewarm and did not look or act like a Christian.
I wanted approval from others. The desire was all-consuming and the only thing that I thought about. I wanted to “fit-in”, I wanted to belong somewhere and quite honestly, I didn’t. I spent most of high school with very few friends.
I wanted college to be different. I was determined to be well-liked and I wanted to be as much like the “cool” people that I had met as possible. So, I pretended. I tried to be as little like my true self as I could manage. I took extra care to speak without my accent, change the way I dressed, and to only talk about what other people liked. I wish I could say it didn’t work, but it did. For the first time in my life, I was always surrounded by people. This led me to become engulfed in the party scene very quickly. I no longer knew who I was, but I finally had the approval of others so I tried to ignore how ridiculously empty I felt.
As the school year progressed, I began to lose every friend that I had made in my short time at Radford. My only source of approval had been rapidly ripped away and once again, I was alone, but not just alone- people actively disliked me. I finally reached out to God in an act of desperation. I asked for the people I needed in my life, true friends and true community. I was asking God to bail me out of a situation that I had gotten myself into. At this point, I only viewed him as my savior and not the Lord of my life. God was still so good and he still provided. Thirty minutes later, I was approached by a girl on my way to dinner. She was a complete stranger and she asked me to eat with her. I knew immediately that God had provided, so I agreed.
She was very clearly filled with the joy of the Lord. I was in disbelief at how quickly God had provided, but for some reason I still was holding on to doubt. I did not truly believe God would fulfill me. I didn’t want my life to be changed, I wanted Jesus on my own terms (and God doesn’t work like that!). So, I decided to go to one last party. I wanted to keep one foot in heaven and one foot in the world. I thought it was possible to do both.
After that final party, I had my wake up call. I had messed up. I didn’t want to do anything on my own anymore. And thankfully, my Lord was there to pick up the pieces. I realized that the love that I had searched for in the world could never equate to the love that my savior has for me. He loved me while I was still a sinner, in open rebellion against him, not for who I was or even what I did. So, I decided to fully rededicate my life to the Lord. I released everything that I was holding on to. I allowed myself to just be his.
I was finally accepted. Not because of who I was, but because of the sacrifice of my savior.
I realized that I no longer needed anything else, the external was no longer important. I was loved by the creator of the universe and wrapped fully in his perfect grace.
From that moment on, he has shown me nothing but redemption. He led me to community through Chi Alpha (and the sweet friend that he had sent my way!). He taught me how to rely fully on him. He showed me that he defined who I was, not the world. Because of God, I was finally whole.
Once I experienced the reckless, sacrificial love that my savior has for me, I never had to search for love anywhere else.