I graduated from college about two and a half years ago and moved to Laurens right out of college. Laurens is such a small town and does not have many people my age living there. I found myself not only dealing with the huge life changes that the real world brings but I was also dealing with extreme loneliness. I found myself becoming very discouraged not only by not having many friends my age but also by not having a Christian community. I started attending the Methodist church in Clinton (since I had grown up Methodist) and found a community but no one that I could relate to. They were all married with children and all in a different stage of life than I was. Finally, a friend from college who was living in Greenville at the time called and asked me to come with her to the young 20s small group at Fellowship. She had never been but had started attending fellowship a couple of weeks earlier. I decided I needed something so I went with her. This community was better than I could have imagined. They are there for me in ways that I have never had a community before. I can count on them for anything. I have been so blessed by God with this community. They have taught me so much about myself and my faith.
This has been a pretty rough year for me personally. My dad went through a period of time where he was experiencing brain bleeds over the summer. He had to undergo major brain surgery which was super scary and a real test of faith. By the end of all of the bleeds, he had to undergo three surgeries to evacuate the bleeds. When he was finally released from the hospital he started to have major stomach pain. When they rushed him back to the emergency room they did a full-body scan and a biopsy. The scans and biopsy revealed he had stage four liver cancer that had spread to his colon and other areas. I was devastated. He was told he would not survive this but they could give him four-five years with chemo hopefully shrinking the cancer. I went through a period (which I still am in at times) where I was constantly asking "why me?". I then attended a mission trip a few weeks later where we talked a lot about "why me?" and turning it into a "why not me? Why can't God use me in the hardships of life to show how he can pull you through it?". It really hit home for me. I was also able to see people who were struggling with periods in their lives that were not comparable to my hardships. It really put my pain into perspective and I started to use my pain to show the love and grace that only the holy spirit in me can bring.