If I am being honest, I was hesitant to not only write this article but to post it as well. There is just simply a stigma around talking about religion outside of a church setting. I wanted to write for a magazine by women, for women. I wanted to empower and inspire others in ways I think only written words can accomplish sometimes, but I would be a hypocrite to ignore the stories that I truly want to tell. True female empowerment is supporting women of all different walks of life, and to ignore sharing my own in order to preserve an ‘image’ I thought I needed to would be a mistake. So, I am going to share my faith journey with those reading this not because I am straying from my goals, but because I would be failing as a woman to ignore a part of me for the sake of other people’s comfort. No woman should ever have to feel like they need to hide pieces of themselves to accommodate for others. So here I am.
I am a Christian woman, but I wasn’t always as connected to my faith as I am currently. I have always been a Christian, however, when I was younger it looked different. My parents were both raised in this faith in ways that were much more intense whether it be Christian schools, youth groups, and Sunday school. So, when it came to raising their three children including me, they wanted to give us a chance to form our own relationships with God in a way that didn’t feel forced. We still went to church often, and we were taught the basics of our faith since before I can remember, but for a while growing up, we were very busy. All three of us kids played multiple sports and I even played for multiple teams in the same sport, so, you can imagine the hustle and bustle of everyday life for my family at the time. That led to tournaments extending into Sundays, and church being sort of an afterthought. This didn’t happen on purpose, however, it became the norm for many sports families. We made it a priority to get to church on holidays, but for many years that was all we did. I was dedicated as a baby, then I could make the choice of baptism when I was older and ready to make that commitment.
As I grew into my teens, I fell more into my faith. There were significant changes within my familial unit to which I clung to God in response. I had to believe that there was a God that not only knew my name, but that also loved me for all I am and all that I am not. I felt comfort in the realization that I would never be alone. My dad and I made it a priority to get to church every Sunday later on. My cousin is studying as a Pastor at home in Nebraska, and he played a big role in helping me with this. When I turned 18, I made the decision to be baptized by that same cousin. It was a public declaration of my commitment to Jesus, and it was one of the absolute best days of my life. Then, I came to college and found a church that inspires me and ignites that fire for Christ in a powerful way. I found people that I can surround myself with that help me with this journey as I help them with theirs. With that, I have many non-religious friends that don’t patronize me or belittle my faith, but that respect and love me the same way that I respect and love them.
It strengthens me now to believe that my faith and the faith of others shake this earth and rattles the gates of hell. I have to believe that loving thy neighbor is God’s will, and my ability to forgive through God changes lives. I have to believe my life has a purpose greater than I could possibly understand. This God that would send his only son down die on a cross for us as an unfathomable sacrifice can’t be ignored. I don’t expect the whole world to understand this, but as the holy week goes on, I felt that I needed to convey how I came to know Jesus. It takes a reckless, amazing, and terribly forgiving kind of love to change a life. I know this because His love has forever changed mine. I hope everybody has a Happy Easter and Resurrection Sunday, in any way you wish to celebrate this year.