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Before I start, I would like to give you a little introduction to our faith and what we believe. Our branch of Christianity strongly believes in the Trinity between God (the Father),
Jesus (the Son), and the Holy Spirit. There is baptism through both the water and the Holy Spirit; many of my friends and I were baptized in the Holy Spirit before we were baptized in the water. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a personal baptism where our eyes are “opened” so we can truly experience God. Baptism in the water is more of a public confirmation to the church and everyone else that you are openly committing your life to Christ and choosing to follow Him for the rest of your life…
My “Spiritual Experience” began when my parents first brought me to church for my dedication 18 years ago. It wasn’t until about four years ago in 2008 that I actually began to take it seriously. As a little girl, I grew up in the church, made friends at church, knew all my bible stories, learned how to pray to God, memorized verses, and even sang for the congregation. I grew up fully exposed to the customs and practices of our church and went along with it, but I was mostly just going through the motions. I didn’t feel personally (emotionally and mentally) involved and I guess I can give some consideration to the fact that I was probably still too young to understand. When I was 14, I began to think more seriously about my faith and if I’m really, in fact, doing my part. I desired to become more involved and to feel more connected with God than just the distant motions I was doing until now. Many of my friends were in the same boat, so we all decided to make this change/decision in our lives together. April and May of 2008 changed majority of our lives because between these two months, hundreds of us were baptized with the Holy Spirit and our attitudes and outlook on our lives were changed forever.
As I stated in the intro, we are connected through several different churches so when I say hundreds of us received the Holy Spirit, I am not referring only to my church; it was a collection of the youth from all the churches in southeast Michigan. We often look at these two months as a time I like to call: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit because this is not something that happens often (in this capacity). May 7, 2008 was the night I was baptized and ever since, I have become so much more aware and conscious of everything around me. I was able to sing and speak in tongues and for the first time felt a true connection to God. It was also an encouragement to see all my friends receive it and on September 7, 2008 we all made a public decision to give our lives to Christ by getting baptized in the water (there were roughly 30 of us at my church; it was one of the biggest baptisms in our church’s history).
Little did I know these events would be the beginning of my spiritual journey. I’ve heard from several people that everything would get so much harder because “going through the motions” was no longer an option. From now on everything we did and said was supposed to reflect Christ in our lives and this required a real effort to try to become holy for God. This meant: repenting from our sins, making a conscious attempt to stop sinning (which is extremely hard) and fleeing from temptations. This is when Satan attacks us the most because his whole purpose is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). He hates to see people give their lives to God, so his attacks become brutal when we are born again in Christ, and if we are not alert and properly prepared we fall badly in our spiritual walk.
The extent to which we fall depends on each person and their strengths; as for me, I did not fall too badly. At first I felt strong and alive and ready to take on the world, but I was not properly preparing myself to endure trials and trust in God at all times. This caused me to stumble, occasionally at first, then more often than not and I began to focus on the desires of my flesh rather than the desires of the Spirit living within me. I began compromising with things such as the music I listened to and the movies I watched and I even walked right into my “rebellious stage” with my parents. By the time I was 17, I reached a point of depression and loneliness which I believed I would never get out of; the happy, vibrant, confident girl I was three years prior got lost in the lies Satan threw at me which I allowed myself to believe. Lies such as “I’m not good enough” or “I have no value in God’s eyes” or “nothing I do will ever be worthy of the love God has for me so why bother trying.” These questions (along with several others) rang in my mind like a broken record player and I started to feel trapped and lost with no one to turn to. I lost my confidence in myself and my self-esteem plummeted; even my friends noticed a change in my
behavior. Looking back now I see that God was with
me, in fact, the whole time and all I can say is that I’m grateful that He cared about me so much to protect my heart. He never let me get into drugs, drinking, partying or falling in and out of love; he kept all of that away from me; it was simply something I never desired. Loneliness was my biggest enemy (sometimes I struggle with it even now). The feeling that no one was/is there for me, that I cannot count on anyone, broke my heart (especially when people really did let me down) and forced me to believe the lie that I am very much underappreciated. I stopped reading my bible, turned to non-Christian music as comfort, questioned why God didn’t let me meet someone who would be there for me while everyone else (my brother and now sister too) around me seemed to be getting into long term relationships and finding a companion. To this day I’ve still never had a boyfriend, but I’ve always wanted one. Finding a great guy and falling in love has been one of my only dreams since I was a little girl. Not being able to accomplish this dream made me feel like a failure and I kept questioning God, asking Him why things just never seemed to work out for me. I know this all seems silly, but when all you want to do is love those around you and they don’t receive it, nothing really hurts more; it’s hard to explain. My friends would always tell me that I didn’t need a guy in my life, that I have God and it’s all I need and I would agree with this, but in all honesty I was not convinced. God isn’t a physical being who could hug me when I need it most or speak to me directly like a physical human does (these were the excuses I kept coming up with; at the time I did not know how accessible God can be if we just reach out to Him in faith).
In May of 2011, I went to Chicago for a Romanian youth convention where my life took an unexpected turn and led me to meet one of the most amazing guy I know today. I will not give his name for several purposes, but I will tell you a little bit about him. Over the course of the following summer we got to know each other very well. I really began falling for him and believed he was the right guy for me. He was everything I prayed for (and more) in a guy, however, due to complications we never exactly dated, but we did remain really good friends; I actually consider him to be one of my best friends. He has taught me so much over the past year and has really showed me what it means to be “all out for Jesus.” He’s changed my life for the better and I do not regret anything that has happened because with each day that passes I find myself learning something new with every situation we faced. He’s not perfect, he’s not a saint, he’s merely a human, but he loves the Lord with all of his heart and is not afraid to show it. God is his number one priority and I admire that about him. Through him, God changed my life. He used him to show me how mighty He is and through this man, reminded me that God must come first or nothing else we desire in life will come true. Matthew 6:33 states that we must first seek the kingdom of God and only then will we receive our hearts desires (paraphrased).
I now know what it means to truly be born again. It’s a concept which I find hard to explain and can only show you by being an example. Our purpose is to live as Jesus did, in love and peace, and until recently my objectives were directed towards the wrong goals. I find that each new day I learn more about my God and myself and the fullness of experiencing God never ends. There’s always room for improvement and expansion in the Spirit and this is one of the things I absolutely love about my faith. There is no such thing as fully understanding and comprehending God’s love and devotion for us. Each new day stands as a testimony to His grace and mercy. The only reason majority of us don’t see it is because we do not know what we are looking for and don’t know how to reach for His hand, which is always stretched out and ready to catch us.