I have had a few people ask me where my faith came from and my religious background and I thought today I would share with you my story.
At the end of the day, no matter what our differences, we are all trying to find true joy. True joy is what changed me from a believer to a BELIEVER.
I was raised in a Catholic family, went to Catholic School K-12, never for one second in my life have I not believed in God. I thought we were pretty close but I didn't have the full peace that Jesus brings to you, I just didn't know it yet.
A few years ago when I moved to Birmingham I was trying to network to find a job in a new city and make new friends. When a friend of mine asked me to come to a Bible Study I thought, "Oh here we go, I guess I will go to network". I know, clearly God has His work cut out for Him when it comes to me. I never went to Bible studies before that, I thought they were for the "Bible beating nerds". You know the "holier than thou, I never have fun crazy times" crowd. *There I said it out loud, I wish you could feel me cringe as I type this. I know this is repulsive but I am just being honest.
So even though it was for the COMPLETE wrong reason I went. A lady name Mary Glenn Peeples was teaching this particular study for a group of 20/30 something young women. Mary Glenn changed my life. That night she was teaching on the book of John and read my now favorite passage. She talked about the joy and peace that comes from really knowing The Lord. As a stranger in a new town, changing careers, figuring it all out, her speaking of the peace Christ gives really captivated me. I am a worrier, I am stressed, I need some help!
That night Mary Glenn told us that it is all going to be okay. Everything is going to be just fine no matter how bad things seem. ALL we had to do was ask Jesus to come into our hearts and He would come. Just once, just ask and HE will be there. You don't have to ask every day, He heard you the first time, just believe or at least open your heart to the possibility of believing. "Wow, that is easy" I thought. So on the way home that night I asked Jesus to come into my heart (although truth be told I didn't know what to expect since I already believed in God).
What happened inside me after that I really can't explain. It wasn't a huge life changing moment, it was a gradual calm and joy that started to fill my heart. I heard God from within. It didn't happen that second, it took a while, but it was there. While I had always been a believer I had never been so close to God. I was surrounded by others who were vocal in their beliefs and that helped me along the way.
Here I am a few years later. Mary Glenn is no longer teaching that Bible study, but I continued going back until the end. This time because I could not wait to hear what she was going to teach us, not because I had other intentions. Now I have joined a new Bible study with different girls and it is so nice to be surround by other people going through the same spiritual journey you.
The love of Christ is in me. It brings me peace when I am distressed. It allows me to be me and not worry that I am not going to make it to Heaven. I say that because I have a VERY, VERY long way to go, I am only human. I talk to God constantly, sometimes I hear Him loud and clear, other times I just have to remember He is listening. Part of being of a Christian is spreading HIS word. I would like to think I do this through my actions, but this weekly series is allowing me to do it through words too. See, I am very shy about sharing my faith. It doesn't come naturally to me to just put it out there. For me to even start this Sunday series was uncomfortable, I know how it can come across to others.
It is my deepest hope that all of you know the same love, joy, and peace I have found. It does not roar every day but I know if I believe it will come again.
* I love and appreciate all comments on this blog but I especially look forward to the comments on Sunday. If you are still reading I just want to say an extra special thank you!
**I have had questions regarding my religion and at this point I do not believe in any one religion. I am a Christian and that is where it ends. I think religion can bring to many human elements and rules into my faith and I lose focus on what it is all about. Since I was raised Catholic I do have a special place in my heart for Catholicism but it is no longer how I define my belief.