My Life With God: Growing Up
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child...
1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)
In the next few posts, I am going to tell you about the journey I have been on with God. From salvation until now, I have come a long way. There have been many twists and turns; ups and downs, and I know they have made me, in part, who I am today. In my last post, I told you how I became a Christian. It was simple and straight-forward, as it usually is with a young child. I grew up in the church and had all the advantages of learning from the Bible, but it wasn't until much later in my life that I would know what it meant to live in relationship with the Lord.
I was a shy child who wasn't comfortable with who I was. I was very sensitive, and although I don't remember much about my first year in Peoria, I have been told I cried every day at school. I was born in Boston, and when I was two, we moved to Dallas while my dad attended Dallas Theological Seminary. My mom told me I asked Jesus into my heart numerous times while we lived in Dallas, but I don't remember any of them. I only remember the one I wrote about in my last post after we moved to Peoria.
Being a pastor's kid was hard for me. I don't think I realized it was hard because it was all I knew. But being a PK (pastor's kid) meant older people knew me and talked to me, and I didn't want them to. Adults scared me, especially old people. Apparently, I was a happy child at home, but I don't remember that either. I mostly remember being shy and afraid of people.
I am thankful for my Bible background. I still remember Bible verses I memorized in the King James Version, and many of the Bible stories I heard over and over. I am grateful to have grown up in a Christian home and learned from an early age about God. I didn't question what I was taught until much later, and I've been fortunate not to have dealt with many of the temptations that others have faced. In hindsight, I would say God protected me from so much.
My neighborhood from fifth grade on was filled with unsaved children. As I grew older, I made a few friends, and some of them were neighbor kids. I was introduced to smoking, marijuana, and drinking before I entered high school, but was never tempted. I was sexually abused on vacation by a boy in Ohio the summer before high school but didn't tell anyone for a long time. I honestly don't know what others thought of me except they did not want me to do the bad things that they did. I said a cuss word one time and got rebuked by my friends who made it clear that it was not okay with them if I cussed even though they made it a habit to cuss. I regret that I had no idea how to witness to anyone, but am happy that in God's grace, He protected me.
In high school, I began to rebel inwardly. I didn't want to go to church, but still being shy, I kept it all inside. I resented that I wasn't more popular in my youth group. I mean everyone knew who I was, but I wasn't included because of my shyness. Or that's how I felt. I began to realize that although Christians talked a lot about having a relationship with God, I didn't have one. I didn't even understand how it was possible to know God in that way; I only knew about Him in my head. And that wasn't good enough.
I had a temporary reprieve from my inward rebellion when I went to Jackson Hole, WY after my junior year of high school. After a long, lonely bus ride, I began to open up a little and have fun. At a campfire one night, I rededicated my life to the Lord and made a decision to go to Moody Bible Institute. I knew my parents would be happy if I went to Moody because they had told me they wanted me to since that's where they went. But up to that point, I couldn't see myself going there.
I remember going back to school my senior year hoping I was a changed person because of what had happened in Jackson Hole. I wanted to be able to tell someone I was a Christian, but quickly realized talking about Jesus was too hard. The only difference was now I was aware that I wasn't telling anyone. I was still shy and hated that I was such a chicken. Church was still difficult, but when a boy from church asked me to his Homecoming, everything changed. I don't know if he was popular, but at least he was in the popular group at church. When our date went south, everyone was talking about it. For the first time, kids who didn't usually speak to me started talking to me. It was exhilarating! I felt accepted and popular. People were on my side. That year, things started coming together, and then I left for college.
All over again, I felt shy and afraid. Moody felt like school, and church all rolled into one, and not a place to grow closer to God. Kids talked about quiet times and prayer, and all kinds of doctrinal issues, but I only knew one girl who seemed to walk the walk. That is probably really unfair, but that's the way I felt. Everyone else just talked the talk like I did. I still couldn't imagine what experiencing God would be like, and for my three years at Moody, I never did find out. But I did start dating my now husband and made one lasting friendship. I took one hard professor and learned something about myself. I could do well if I tried. Dr. Mayer taught 1 & 2 Corinthians, and that was one of my best academic memories of Moody.
Up to this point, I had a ton of Bible knowledge, but I still didn't know God personally. He was still protecting me though. In my third year at Moody, I got engaged. I had one prayer, and that was "Please don't return Lord until I get married and have children." That prayer was answered, but not without challenges. In my next post, I will continue sharing the journey of my life with God. It would prove to be the most difficult time of my life.