What is a testimony? By Webster’s definition it is “an open acknowledgment” or “a public profession of religious experience.” My testimony is “MY STORY” that I am openly acknowledging and professing to you, which shares of my life and how Christ came to be my personal Lord and Savior. My testimony truly starts on day one.
I was born into, and grew up in a Christian family. I went to church every Sunday, my family was involved within the church, I went to Awana, Sunday School, and later, youth group, and even went to a Christian school from my Kindergarten to Sophomore year and finished up my schooling through a private Christian online school program. In ways, you could say I was apart of the entire “Christian family packaged deal.” However, being a Christian, or Christ follow, isn’t about your religious acts or how much you know, it’s about a personal relationship. So, here’s my story.
When I was eighteen months old, my parents divorced. My mom and I went to live with my grandparents for the next four years and I visited my dad occasionally. My grandpa became a huge father figure in my life. He and I were best friends and I always looked up to him. He was the worship leader at our church and I admired what he did every Sunday and hoped that I would one day be like him. When I was five, both of my parents remarried and that fall I started up my Kindergarten year at a Christian school.
Throughout my short little life, I had learned a lot about Jesus and I knew just how important it was to follow him with my life. So, around the age of four or five I dedicated my life to him, the best a kid that age could, although I have no vivid memory of this event. However, even from a young age of five years old, I began to struggle with my faith and understanding of what it really meant to live for Jesus. I was petrified that I wouldn’t be saved if I did one wrong thing. This lead to desperate, terrified prayers every night where I would beg God to save me and help me to follow Him so I could go to Heaven. I ended up struggling with this for years.
When I entered my sixth-grade year, my parents decided it was time to find a new church. I was greatly struggling with understanding the adult teaching, because our previous church at the time had a much more intricate style of teaching and as a family, we just weren’t growing. We moved to the church we are at now, which is where I finally started understanding just how this grace thing worked.
Unlike my previous church, which had kids go to adult service starting in fifth grade, our new church didn’t move kids up until seventh, so I was back into Sunday School for another year. It was there that I met the most amazing children’s pastor who taught me in a way that I finally could understand what it meant when Jesus died for my sins. Once we decide to live our lives for Jesus and own up to our sins, He cleanses us from our sins and shows us as “clean” to God when we do mess up. However, this doesn’t mean we continue to live in ours sins, but the reality is that we will mess up, because we are human and by nature, we have a sin problem. Jesus’ grace isn’t a one-time deal. He has an overflowing amount of grace that He will continue to lavish on us. There is nothing we can do to stop Him from showing us grace. How amazing is that?
Within this year, I began to truly take hold of my relationship with God and own my faith. On our winter retreat that year, I decided I was going to get baptized. This didn’t happen until a year later, on April 24th, 2013, because I was afraid of getting in front of so many people (*sigh*).
A few months before I got baptized, I entered the most difficult season of my life. My grandpa was diagnosed with a fast growing, terminal brain cancer, lymphoma. The news was devastating. My role model, my best friend, my grandpa… he was going to die. There was no way around it. There was no cure. I would be spending the next couple months trying to grasp on to every moment I could get with him, because he would soon be gone. I struggled, along with my family, watching his body slowly deteriorate and die. About a week before he breathed his last breath, I went to spend time with him for the very last time. I knew it would most likely be the last time I saw him so I knew I had to say goodbye. This was the hardest day of my life. The man who had become such a strong father figure to me, who was my role model, and my best friend… this was it. I tried my best to thank him for everything and to tell him how much I loved him. I couldn’t get much out through all the tears, but I believe he understood. On March 9th, 2013, just two months and two days after his diagnosis, he went home to be with Jesus. I decided that I would finally pick up the guitar and learn to play, then join worship team at my school the following year in honor of him.
These next few months, as you could imagine, were very difficult for me. Although I never really struggled with being angry at God, I did struggle with understanding why He would take my grandpa away from me. The pain and heartache of losing my grandpa, turned into an inner struggle of pain, sadness, and wondering what my purpose was, if there was one. “Why was I here? Why did I need to be?” The next year was very difficult for me as I continued to struggle with it. The only thing I truly held onto was my relationship with Jesus, because although I felt quite hopeless, I knew that there was hope in Him. So, I persevered.
Within the next year, I started to become more involved in my youth group after being forced to join the worship team by my parents. I didn’t want to join, because I thought I wouldn’t be good enough, but instead the team pushed me and encouraged me to grow in my musicianship, confidence, relationship with God, and I made awesome relationships with the amazing people on my team and started to truly understand what worship means.
Over the past few years, I have learned so much about what it means to serve the Lord with my life and truly live a worship filled lifestyle. However, my relationship with God has been far from perfect. Over the past few years, I have struggled a ton with being honest, especially with my parents. I am the type of person who loves to please everyone and hates confrontation. Put the two together and bingo, lying becomes quite easy, but awful. Because of that, I put up a barrier between me and God, which damaged the relationship we have. Desperately trying to serve God while trying to keep the peace with sin, doesn’t work well. You cannot serve two masters. It took until just a couple months ago to finally turn from my sin problem and start working on repairing relationships between me and my parents, and between me and God.
Over the past several years, I have dealt with heart ache, loss, inner struggles and trials, loss of friends, sin problems, rebuilding, growing, and maturing. So much has happened, but God has continued to prove Himself faithful and merciful to me, despite how much I have failed Him. He has never failed me and never will. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
As I continue to grow and try to figure this life out and how I need to be serving God with it, I will again state that my relationship with God is far from perfect. In fact, it will never be perfect. I will continue to sin and fall short of perfection no matter how hard I try to do what’s right, but God will never stop pursuing me, loving me, and pouring His never-ending grace on me. Let’s be real, life is hard. There truly is no easy path to life. I would not be here if it weren’t for Jesus and the relationship I have with Him. He truly is my source of life, my strength, my peace, my perfect Father, and the only one who will NEVER fail me.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
Jesus died, defeated death, and took away the rightful penalty of your sins, for you so that He could be in a relationship with you and spend forever with you. Will you accept His loving gift of salvation and His abounding grace?
Love you all! God bless!!