I wish I could unpack all of the facets of my story that brought me to where I am today. I would love to take you by the hand and walk through each moment, day by day, second by second, as I’ve grown professionally, personally, and spiritually, but we simply don’t have the time. Maybe I’ll become a New York Times bestselling author in my 60’s and you can read all of it then. For now, here’s the tip of the iceberg.
I grew up in a small town in the southwest and was raised by two loving parents. They were both raised as Lutherans and, you guessed it, so was I. I went through all of the sacraments a Lutheran 7th grader goes through but by the time I got into high school, I was down to going to church maybe one Sunday a month.
I started rumbling with doubt and anger, both pointed toward God and organized religion. And, in 2007, I started to identify as an atheist. During that year, I lost my grandfather and two months after he passed, my parents told me and my brother that, after 17 years of marriage, they were getting a divorce. That’s a lot for a sixteen-year-old to handle.
After much thought, the only word to describe my feelings at that time is “demoralized”. My brother and I left the house we grew up in and moved into my grandmother’s house with my dad. I slept on a twin size bed nestled in my grandfather’s office and I spent many nights crying in there, hoping no one would hear me. I distinctly remember coming to this realization that the only person that would never hurt me was me. That was the truth I clung to; I became my covering.
In 2008 I graduated high school and was ready to move away from the place I had grown to hate. I was looking forward to nobody knowing me or my past struggles and I was looking forward to all the things I wanted to accomplish! I moved to San Diego, graduated from cosmetology school and then made my way to Los Angeles to do hair in Beverly Hills. I was ambitious, to say the least.
Through all of my sadness, I wanted nothing more than to find someone who could bring back my happiness. I had friends who brought me joy, but I wanted to be somebody’s everything.
So I dated a lot.
And I got broken up with a lot.
Like, a lot.
Like, every time.
This circadian rhythm of sorts was not only exhausting but it allowed me to sink even deeper into my sadness. After many failed relationships (can I even call them that…?) and a spent bank account, I made the decision to move back to Arizona to live with my dad and start over once again.
My time spent in Arizona brings some of my fondest memories to mind. I loved being around my dad, I loved my co-workers to the point where they were my best friends! I even convinced one of my girlfriends from California to move to Arizona because I was drinking the juice, y’all! (She did move to Arizona and we lived together, hi, Jordyn!)
Though I was happy in Arizona, states away in Idaho, I had grown close to a friend I had met on Myspace (I know) when I was 14. Josh was the first love of my life. He is all of the best adjectives and more. We had both dated other people and things never really worked out, but it finally seemed like things were starting to fall into place.
After a year of weekend trips to see each other, I packed up my things and moved to Idaho to be with him. What I imagined was going to be an amazing time together, ended up being extremely difficult, full of ups and downs we had to navigate through. We both fell into depression and he moved to Texas to be closer to his family and I stayed in Idaho and started heavily drinking. Keep in mind: I didn’t drink. Ever. This was new for me. I felt like I had no friends, I had nothing to look forward to besides getting on my couch and drinking until I fell asleep. Then I would wake up the next day and go to work and rinse and repeat.
Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to move away. After living alone for a year, I decided I would also make the move to Texas. I had a couple of friends living there already and thought “Why not?”
We all know that God was up to something.
Through all of these years, I never once stepped foot in a church. Not one time. I was terrified of what people would think of me and I was still wrestling with this wrathful God who wanted nothing more than to smite me.
I stopped drinking, started making friends and Josh and I were on the upswing, ensuring that nothing but love and compassion were the foundation of our relationship.
One Sunday, I was invited to church with Josh’s mom and, as I was sitting in church, I felt love. The love that I had been seeking to feel through all of my sadness was in this room. The sermon seemed to be pinpointed right at me as Mike Dsane delivered a message about God’s judgment; the only thing I had known Him for. It wasn’t the same message I had heard growing up, this message was filled with wisdom.
“How mad would you be if, on that day, the unrepentant, rebellious sinner who had no regard for God or his mercy gets the same destiny as the person who was faithful to be repentant and submitted to the call of Christ? If those destinies were equal, if the end of the story was equal for both of them, then you would be frustrated, I would be frustrated, and God would be an evil, heinous, untrustworthy judge.
But we have a just Judge who is right to punish sin. We have a just Judge who is right to say, "In my glory and in my holiness, I am asking you to be holy as I am holy. I'm asking you to be submitted to my way and to my will and to be repentant. I'm asking you to conform your heart to my standard and my call." Those who refuse and those who will not repent, they will be judged.” -Mike Dsane
When I got home that day, I asked my mom to get me a Bible as a Christmas gift that year. I sought out community and would google “Dallas women’s ministry”, only to be placed in the community of We Are Unveiled several months later. I actually started doing Bible studies with Josh’s family members and it was in these first few months that I really felt my heart change. Everything in my life felt new.
Since then, I’ve experienced hardships, fought depression, and even felt heartbreak, but I have felt all of that with God. I didn’t have loneliness. There were times when He would answer my prayers on command to prove His love for me. I’ve also experienced the best days of my life. I’ve seen my relationship with Josh flourish in ways I never thought possible. I’ve experienced laughter-induced stomach aches shared with people I admire. I’ve started to shake off the labels that stick to me in exchange for one that shatters them all: HIS.
I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself “How is my story going to help someone?” and, to sum it up, my story shows that God is for everyone.
I spend a lot of time with people that don’t go to church and I also spend a lot of time with anointed individuals. Both, I love.
I take anti-depressants and fight anxiety.
I cuss! (Sorry, Mom)
I don’t know a lot about the Bible and I don’t have more than 5 Bible verses memorized.
I go to church every Sunday and I raise my hands in worship.
There isn’t a formula for the perfect Christian.
There is freedom in that.
"He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." Daniel 2:22 (ESV)
How has God changed your life? How has he changed how you see yourself?
We want to hear your story (even if it's still in process) of victory in Christ!