Church has been something I have used to define who I am my whole life. As I was growing up, my dad was on staff or in leadership at every church I have ever attended. My family basically lived at church. I don’t remember at what age I accepted Jesus into my heart. But I do remember that I started to be more aware of who God was to me.
Along with being pastor’s kids, my siblings and I were homeschooled. We grew up being taught the Bible along with the subjects anyone else learns in public school. Not only did I feel like we lived at church, but church lived in our house, too.
When I was 12 years old, we started going to a church in Smithville. This is where I learned how to encounter God’s word and grew in my relationship with Him.
When I was 16, while attending a church camp, I was called into youth ministry. I was so excited to start living out that calling! I began to plan for my future and how I would go about being in youth ministry.
All my excitement and planning came to a halt when real life started happening. At the time, my youth pastor was one of the guys that I grew up with in youth group. He was interning to eventually be the full-time youth pastor.
Because we had been friends for a long time, our friendship continued outside of church. The leadership did not approve of our friendship and told us we could not see each other outside of church as long as he was the youth pastor. My world was crushed.
For five months we could not see or talk to each other outside of church. I really struggled being in church at that point in my life because of the hurt. The place I trusted the most had hurt me the most. The people that I had trusted and had guided and shaped me for six years hurt me.
But God was there. He prepared my heart before I even knew what was going to happen. Literally, the day before leadership told my parents their decision, God gave me a verse.
I was listening to KLove while I was getting ready for school and their verse of the day was Isaiah 43:19, which says “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
God knew that this would be my wilderness and desert. He gave me a promise to get me through it. I clung to that verse and the full chapter of Isaiah 43 for those five months. I studied them and went over them again and again.
Eventually, the five months came to an end with my youth pastor stepping down. God carried me through that time. I learned the value of patience and reliance on God. It was absolutely the most difficult time of my life, and if I am completely honest I am still working through the hurt it caused, but I am thankful for the lessons that I learned.
The most significant lesson I learned is that I had believed that the church defined who I was. As a result, it took the church hurting me for me to realize that I am not defined by going to church or even my dad being a pastor.
God alone defines me.
This part of my story is important and has shaped me, but it does not hold power over me. Now, three years later, I know who I am and how God defines me. I am chosen by God to be a world changer who is rooted in love
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