Growing up in a Methodist family, I have always been surrounded by the love and comfort of our amazing God. I grew up in a small church that half of my town attended. My whole family fostered my relationship with Jesus and throughout my life I felt totally full of the love of God. Throughout my trials and tribulations in the short time I’ve been on this Earth, I have known to lean on God in prayer and worship, and as promised it has all been for a greater good.
My first real experience with this was in the 6th grade. My older sister, Ainsley, left for college as I entered middle school. She came back a few short months later, very sick and with no diagnosis. After days of appointments and an emergency trip to the hospital, I experienced my first (from what I remember) moments of doubt. “How could this be happening to my sister?” She is one of the best people I know; she gave constant love, support, and encouragement and never asked anything in return. “Why us, God?” I remember the night that the doctor told my mom that her kidneys were beginning to fail, which could lead to death. I didn’t know what was going on at the time, but I knew it was bad because of my mother’s reaction. I slept at my dad’s house that night and when I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed, I completely gave it up to God. I remember sitting on the floor, crying, praying like I had never prayed before to heal my sister. The lyrics “I’ll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned,” come to mind when I remember this night. I prayed like it was the absolute last thing I would do. This was the day I truly learned to lean on God, to give it all to him in times of fear, heartache, and doubt, to place it at the foot of the cross and rest easy knowing that my God is the most powerful, incredible healer. Within days, my sister’s health began to improve. I knew this was due to God’s grace, his guidance of every person who helped my sister, and his unfailing love.
Fast forward six years, and I’m entering my first year of college. After years of continued spiritual growth, support from family, and an incredible church family, I felt beyond prepared for this transition. I had no idea how hard it would truly be. Between the pressure of school, being away from my support system, and the many social pressures that accompany college, it is safe to say I strayed from God a few times. I sought comfort from other people, I longed to conform to the “normal” college life, I felt lost with no church here to call home. But, as always, my God never left me. I received a random text from a family friend, now living in Charlottesville, to “try this new church” with her. I thought “what do I have to lose?” and jumped out of bed, quickly got ready, and was on my way to The Point. I will never forget this service. I sat down and listened to the story of a man who sacrificed his life in the name of God. I was totally enveloped by God’s word in this moment, I still have the notecard reading, “The cross before me, the world behind me” hanging above my desk. I felt changed after that service; I couldn’t stop talking about it. Not long after, I brought my roommate and four or five close friends to church with me. I had never felt hooked to the word like I did after that sermon, and it continues to stick with me now. I know that God brought me and my friends to this church to renew our faith, and provide me with the support I desperately needed to get through the pressures of school. Every person I met at The Point quickly became family, especially Lannie and Suzanne White, who after finding out I was spending $30 on Uber rides to and from church every Sunday, went out of their way to pick me up for church each week for the remainder of the semester. I felt loved; the kind of loved that can only be found in our amazing God.
From that first Sunday, I felt called to baptism. I had been christened as an infant, but I felt called to proclaim this spiritual rebirth. With encouragement from close friends and family, and my “Church parents” Lannie and Suz, I reached out to the the amazing people in my new found church home, and was quickly on my way to baptism. To me, this represents a personal declaration of faith and commitment to my God. I sometimes felt unworthy of this kind of commitment, until I realized that God already loved me so, so much, and I am worthy of his love. I am ready to commit, for myself, my life to the service of God, to rest on his grace, to love unconditionally, to forgive with open arms, to serve in his name, to know I am loved without fear of abandonment. Although I have been on this amazing journey for all of my life, I can’t wait to proclaim this love and commitment to God. His love, forgiveness, and grace is the most rewarding gift I have ever received, and I feel so full of them that I want to pour it out onto others and show them how great it is to be a beloved child of God.