I believe that from the moment I prayed that prayer, my salvation–my relationship with God–became my responsibility, even though I was only eight. I didn’t realize it then, but I had called out to my Creator and He hears when we call. I didn’t fully comprehend what I was asking, but there must have been enough faith behind my prayer to get His attention.In time I outgrew the ease of childhood and my world became more complex. I began to carry cares and worries that eventually wore me down. I spent more time worrying about things like what my peers thought of me, or whether or not my parent’s made enough money. People I thought I could trust let me down, and others expected qualities from me that they didn’t possess themselves. I lacked identity and purpose and lived aimlessly, caught in the awkward in-between of childhood and adolescence. Life wasn’t fun anymore and my emotions were all over the place. It wasn’t something I wanted to or felt like I could talk about with anyone so I kept it all inside while I just went through the motions of a church kid.
When I turned 14, I went to the Jr. High-High School service at my home church for the first time. This is another day I remember vividly. It was a Wednesday Night and I wore a purple Faded Glory blouse, light wash Baby Phat jeans, and a purple bow in my hair. I sat on the end seat of the sixth row on the right side of the room. To start off the service, everyone was invited to gather in front of the stage for praise and worship. There was something about the music that created this sweet atmosphere. As I lifted my hands, God began to lift a weight from my shoulders. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been to church in a while–I was there the Sunday before. I don’t know why, but He chose that moment to heal me.
That night I rededicated my life to God. I realized that I had been wasting my time. I should have been holding tighter to Him instead of letting all those things come between us. I should have been letting this uncomfortable phase make me stronger. I should have been seeking His wisdom and instructions on how to cope. I should have found someone to open up to instead of isolating myself emotionally.
My heavenly Father revealed to me that in spite of my immaturity, He was looking out for me. I had so many things to be grateful for: both of my parents, who were raising me in the Word of God and working hard to provide for me and my siblings; a place to live even though it wasn’t in the nicest of neighborhoods; friends and family who did care about me and loved the not-so-appealing parts of me. More importantly, He was still there, I could trust Him, and He was still good even when life didn’t seem to be.
I left depression and all my pity party decorations at that altar that night. I decided that they were not going to get the best of me. I decided that I would have joy, peace, and all the fruit of the Spirit. I decided I wanted to be pleasing to my God and a blessing to others.
I didn’t change instantly. No, not even over night. It took some months before I felt like I was moving forward. But I chose that day to take responsibility for my faith and to embrace what I was being taught in church. My circumstances didn’t change immediately either, but I moved the magnifying glass from my problems to God’s promise.
I know this part of my story is not unique. Some would say this was a natural, psychological phase that everyone goes through, but I give all praise to my Creator for not leaving me there. If only I had known what was ahead of me.
“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Proverbs 20:5
“These words I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you have pressure, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” John 6:44a