Growing up, church was something I enjoyed. It was a routine in my life that I looked forward to and I didn’t realize that until I stopped going. Until I was around the age of 10, I attended church often. My views on being a Christian were very religion and not relationship but I never knew there was a difference. I knew God loved me whether I went to church but I never knew the extent of what I was missing. I came from a broken home where my parents were never together. I had a father who was an alcoholic, and a mother who was suffering from mental illness. I was removed from my father’s family for years, so I stopped going to church when I went to visit on weekends and my mother stopped attending as well but I had no clue I could have had an escape in coming to God by not being in a physical church.
When I turned 16, I finally reunited with my Dad and his family after years. I saw my Dad another time during that period and all I could do was praise God for bringing my Dad back into my life. January of 2018 I was so excited to be visiting my Dad again, but my plans to see him one weekend were taken because he passed away.
During that time, I began to want God more than anything, attending church every Sunday after his passing in hopes I could distract myself from all the pain I was experiencing. I stopped attending church a few months after because I was allowing the world to consume me in horrible ways, but I didn’t fight the numbness I started to feel. I graduated high school that June and looking back I barely remember those last months of school. I was damaged by the world and I began to resent my family and God for ripping my Dad away from me which wasn't their fault.
I took a gap year between high school and college where I just survived my days and never put too much effort into anything. During that year I did whatever I could to distract myself, in hopes I wouldn’t be alone for too long because it constantly led me to negative thoughts. I stayed with so many friends and constantly made sure I could keep myself busy so I wouldn’t have to suffer inside my head.
I was accepted into Radford University and I really hadn’t thought about God until I attended Quest and having my Q.A. (which is now my life group leader) mention about a campus ministry she was involved in. After I left, I continuously had the thought of finding a church again when I came to Radford but other than that God was just someone to look up to, not build a relationship with.
I remember one night before I left for school, sitting outside and crying my eyes out because I felt like the world was caving in. I started talking to God and it caught me by surprise, but I continued my conversation until I felt at ease and was immediately reminded of how much happier Radford will make me, even if I was so devastated to leave the friends from my hometown that I made over the years.
I left for Radford and two girls in my dorm hall wanted to try Chi Alpha so that night we went.
The sermon really hit me and at the end of the night, they always ask to see if anyone wants to accept Jesus into their hearts or if anyone wanted to rededicate their life to Christ. I hesitated and then raised my hand and I was amazed by the whole room clapping and praising God because I wanted to rededicate with God. A few people laid their hands on me and prayed which no one had ever done for me before in person and I realized that I never knew how much I needed it.
I was so hungry to get to grow with God that I dived in headfirst and never wanted to look back. I immediately got plugged into a life group and attended Fall Retreat where I got baptized for the first time. I just kept happily growing with God and did whatever I could do to make sure I fought for God in everything I did. However, when winter break started, I knew God kept telling me that I shouldn’t be afraid to come to him wholeheartedly but I kept ignoring him because I allowed myself to get into my head and sit there because I had no one to go to physically, knowing I could pull myself out at any giving time as long as I gave it to God.
I attended SALT and every service I kept getting wrecked by God and like a splinter he kept revealing heartaches I’ve faced and asked me why I wouldn’t give them to him. Finally, during a service, I completely broke down and surrendered everything inside of me to him. All the past traumas and negativity I told God to take because I couldn’t do it anymore. That service changed my mindset completely. God wanted me to become genuine with him before the end of 2019 whether I wanted to or not and I am still grateful for that. After that moment I stood up and every chain that was holding me down vanished, and I felt like I could finally breathe. After that conference I felt comfortable abiding in him whether it be praying out loud for others or reading his word, I had no fear over it.
God broke chains that night for me when I never thought possible.
Spring semester started, and I was finding myself making closer bonds with the Chi Alpha community and revealing to others what Holy Spirit wanted me to tell them with ease. When I went to Arkansas on a mission trip partnered with the University of Central Arkansas’ Chi Alpha, I grew a sense of boldness that I was still holding back from. Just evangelizing with their Chi Alpha and going up to strangers and reminding them that God loves them really allowed me to walk their campus happily, even if I didn’t know when I’d see my own next.
God has really softened my heart and shown me my genuine self doesn’t have to be revolved around earthly people or material items. I realized again how easy it is to let go of everything when I have no one to physically go to, but I was reminded that God doesn’t stop, and I need to talk to him whenever I can and always give him everything.
I’m so thankful I have all those chains broken and I can surround myself in God’s presence 24/7 without fear. I know there will be moments where everything feels like it’s about to cave in but because of Chi Alpha bringing me closer to God, building a relationship with God, and bringing me a godly community, I know now that for the rest of my life I will never have to suffer through anything alone.