I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age three, but I feel like I’m finally learning the fullness of what that means 25 years later. I grew up in a Christian home with loving, faithful parents, but still put this unspoken pressure on myself to “perform.” My parents once told me that I would make a good Catholic after they heard all the strict, legalistic standards I was placing on myself (to which I could never measure up). Now, thanks be to God, I realize that I don’t need to measure up — that’s the whole point of the Gospel! I can rest in God’s kindness and grace while experiencing joy in obedience to his law; these are not mutually exclusive concepts, as I once believed.
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5
Getting more involved in community through Bible studies, AM2PM, and small groups have definitely shaped my journey to these realizations. Hearing that other people have genuine struggles, as I do, has helped me to feel less alone in difficult times, and I really appreciate the ways we have come alongside each other as members of a church family. Walking through life together with an attitude of service has made a world of difference in building authentic relationships and my spiritual growth.
This year, I am reading through the entire Bible for the first time, and God has been so faithful in revealing himself to me during this endeavor. I can regularly sense the Spirit’s conviction and reminders of my purpose when my emotions are starting to rise in an unhelpful/negative way. Although people could objectively consider this a very dark period in my life based on my circumstances, I have experienced the overwhelming peace and light of Christ in and through it. This current trial has drawn me closer to him in ways I never could’ve imagined, and I will continue to praise him for his goodness in bringing hope from suffering.