I was reborn on April 21, 1999, in my bedroom at my house with no one around and tears running down my cheeks as I gazed out the window and said, “Lord Jesus, I need You for myself”.
And, on Thursday, April 21, 2005, I turned six.
As Laura wrote in my birthday card, I’m ready to start spiritual first grade – no naptime, no half days, no authority but my Teacher.
But I didn’t get here overnight. In fact, this moment has been more than six years in the making, so I’d like to share just where I’ve been.
Pre-rebirth: I was raised in a Christian home (with two of the most amazing, Godly people as parents) and there was never a time when I didn’t know (or believe) that Christ died to save me. I went to church; I knew all of the Sunday school answers; I could quote, like, half of the Bible due to Awanas, but I still didn’t get it. In the summer of 1997, after years of struggling with cancer, my grandfather died. For the year and a half that followed, I was extremely depressed, attempting to fill my life with selective friends, being angry and closed off toward my parents, and lying to everyone during the day while I cried myself to sleep just about every night. I was a mess and I was struggling to keep my head above water.
And then Columbine happened.
When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, just miles from where I was going to school at the time, I had, for the first time ever, nothing to say. I remember staring blankly at the television screen and then walking away to my bedroom where I sat all night.
For me, the pain was all too real: my fears about death and my memories of my grandfather’s death resurfaced and I found myself with nothing to cling to.
The next night, I sat in my bedroom again, looking out the window, and I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.
And, for the first time, my faith became my own.
Year One (The “Learning to Live” Stage): God worked with me on decreasing my reliance upon my friends and increasing my reliance upon Him. I cut a lot of ties and opened myself up to new possibilities, but I had to regain the trust of those that I went to school with. God is faithful, however, and He blessed me with two amazing best friends.
Year Two (The “Learning to Walk” Stage): During year two, God really worked with me on healing. I had a lot of pain that I still hid from my grandfather’s death and it often kept me from enjoying life and the peace that Christ brings. Not all of Year Two was healing, though. I fell hard for one of my best friends, and I began to feel that my faith required little work. Like a child learning to walk, I felt confident in my ability, not realizing that I could still fall.
Year Three (The “No” Stage): This is when God broke me. My best friend (that I had fallen hard for) and I fell apart, and when I say we fell apart, it was like a cat playing with a ball of yarn: fast, shredded, and all over the place. Once more, I was a mess, having turned more toward my friend than I had toward God. Because God is a God of love, He granted me a peace in the aftermath that no one (myself included) could understand. Once I turned my focus back to Christ, He showed me how to find freedom from my past (something that I really struggled with). I began performing my music at church coffeehouses and felt my first pull toward active ministry.
Year Four (The “Independent” Stage): I struggled a lot this year, particularly because it was my Senior year of high school. My plans for college were drastically altered when my school of choice decided to change the program that I was going to go there for. Suddenly, what had always been a given was a big toss up. For the first time, I considered not going to college. On the one hand, I wanted to sit out a year and try active ministry; on the other, I wanted to get away from home. But God had a greater plan.
Year Five (The “Daddy’s Little Girl” Stage): I was placed at the college I was for a reason. Despite the change in plans, He knew, and still does know, what is best for me. I began studying journalism, instead of music, and saLt (a youth-oriented webzine) was my active ministry of choice. I took a year off from music, especially in regard to writing and playing piano and guitar. I learned how to hold fast to my “Abba”, that God was sovereign, and what it truly meant to worship.
Year Six (The “Band-aids and Iodine” Stage): There has been so much healing over the past year. Old wounds that were never fully healed were reopened and, for the first time, cleaned out and bandaged up so that they could finally heal and heal correctly. I found the freedom to worship and return to music ministry, was challenged and changed by a study of the Fruit of the Spirit, and found continuous joy in the new family that has been placed around me. I have been learning to surrender and to forfeit my life, my desires and my time for God’s.
And while it has been a painful year, it has been one that I wouldn’t trade because, in the end, I am a changed child of God.
But what strikes me the most about the past year is this:
We must be willing.
Being willing is the battle.
If we are not willing to be changed, to be different at the end of the day, what is the point?
If we are not willing, we will be broken, we will be disciplined, and we will be brought back.
Jesus’ blood never fails me and it never fails His children.
But His blood is a blood that sanctifies, that purifies, that changes lives.
We are not called to remain the same – we are called to be conformed to His likeness.
Every day brings a new lesson.
Yesterday, I dealt with a resurfacing of pride and the need to find rest; today, I dealt with fear and waiting for the future; tomorrow, I will deal with my need for perfection and my busyness.
Today, I started first grade. I am full-time under the tutelage of my Teacher.
He has a lot yet to teach me and I am eager to learn.