I’ve never really thought of myself as a person with a testimony. I don’t have a dramatic conversion story or anything you could call a born-again moment to talk about. I can’t tell you the date I “was saved.” Honestly, most days I don’t feel like a “real” Christian.
But the more I look back, the more I see God working in my life. Even when I’ve shut out or ignored or just plain forgotten about him, he’s been right there waiting for me, chasing me with his grace.
I’ve called myself a Christian all my life but didn’t engage with God much until recently. Though my family didn’t go to church together, we almost always had Christian radio on, and I went to Christian schools. I’m certain I approached Bible readings for school more as a worksheet to be filled out (goody-two-shoes that I am) than as a glimpse into God’s heart, but I had a good foundation. To borrow Shauna Niequist’s words, “We all grow up with half a pie, and part of being an adult person of faith is finding the rest of your pie.”
When my then-fiancé, Geoffrey, moved from San Antonio to Austin in 2012, we decided to start looking for a church. When we stumbled upon Riverbend, the empty half of my pie plate got a little smaller. My personal faith journey began.
Riverbend was unlike any church I’d experienced.The services freshest on my mind were from my Catholic high school, where I had felt stifled and restricted. Riverbend, on the other hand, was welcoming and contemporary, filled with grace and hope. I still remember walking out of Riverbend for the first time feeling eager to return. I still have the bulletin from that Sunday.
We kept coming to church literally every Sunday we were in town. We got married at Riverbend by our wonderful pastor, a delightful and insightful man who inspires me weekly and even consented to making a Lord of the Rings joke with our wedding rings at the altar. We joined a community group of like-minded couples and became two of its leaders.
Though my faith had grown a little, it ebbed and flowed. Most weeks I was just going through the motions. In a particularly weary season, I thought of switching churches, thinking something had changed at Riverbend. But it wasn’t my church that was failing. It was me. I was failing to connect with God.
During the summer of 2016, two things happened. First, I went to a new evening worship service. It was the kind of thing that normally makes introverts like me extremely uncomfortable — chairs organized in a circle, forced to sit next to and make eye contact with people you’ve never met, and even hand-raising. GASP. But as I settled into my seat, I didn’t feel the urge to fiddle with my phone or bolt for the door. It was small and intimate and the faith in that room was strong. I felt the exhilarating presence of God in a way I hadn’t felt often, if at all, in my life. I can’t say I ever truly understood the concept of worship until that night.
Second, my couples’ group created a separate small group for a few of the wives that wanted to go deeper. We gathered to keep up with what was happening in each other’s lives and to learn how to be better Christians together. We read a book called Wild and Free, and the life-breathing words we read and conversations we had over the course of twelve weeks literally changed my mindset on faith and life. We talked about our fears, our struggles, our hopes, our doubts, death, change, and the artificial boxes we construct and try to shove our lives into — despite the fact that we know we already measure up, because God created us and called us good.
The combination of meeting God for the first time and learning to live wild and free led me itching to read the Bible. Not because I felt like I should or guilty that I hadn’t, which had inspired my previous feeble and short-lived attempts at Bible-in-a-year plans. Not because a pastor or teacher was telling me to. Just because I wanted to.
I’m a writer by trade, and putting my thoughts and desires into words on a page helps me process them. This blog is my way of sharing what I’m learning as I really get to know God.
I’m by no means a perfect Christian, and I certainly never will be. But I’m slowly being transformed into a wild and free daughter of the king and learning what it means to follow Christ in this messy but wonderful world.
And I hope you’ll join me.