I grew up going to Sunday school every week and remember kneeling beside my bed each night saying my nightly prayers before my mom tucked me in and read me a bedtime story. I remember praying with my mom one night when I was about five, asking Jesus into my heart. I could recite Bible verses and knew all the words to the weekly praise songs we sang in church. I loved my weekly Awana class and I felt safe and secure knowing that I was loved and cared for and that God protected me and loved me more than anything.
My carefree childhood came crashing down all around me when my dad came home on June 28, 2006 and told my mom, brother and me that he was leaving our family. I was ten years old at the time and I remember feeling completely and utterly devastated. I remember feeling angry with God, like he’d abandoned me too. I did not understand why a loving God would allow such a thing to happen to me at such a young age. I resented my father for over four years. I held bitterness and hatred in my heart for him and even turned my back on God for allowing me to go through such chaos. I did not understand how my mom could forgive him for what he did to her or be nice to him when he came to pick up my brother for visitation.
During that time, I was not as loving or forgiving toward my dad or God. I went through the motions of going to church with my mom, but always felt like there was something missing in my life and the emptiness in my heart could not be filled. I was sad all the time, but I never cried; or showed any emotion at all for that matter. I basically turned off my emotions and hardened my heart so that no one else would ever be able to break it again.
It was not until about three years ago when I was sitting in church listening to Pastor Tom preach a sermon on forgiveness that I felt like God was speaking directly to me. The pastor talked about forgiving others as God forgives us. I remember tears welling up in my eyes as I sat there thinking about all of the wasted time I’d spent holding onto anger and bitterness. I went home that night and asked Jesus to forgive me for my bitterness toward him. Then I asked him to help me to forgive my father. I remember praying to God for help in forgiving my dad as I had shut him out of my life for so long that I did not know how to let him back in.
For the past four years, I have become more involved in church and even started attending high school youth group. I am learning so much about God and feel like I am growing in my faith a little more each day. One of my favorite verses of the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” because it reminds me of God’s faithfulness. I know that I have much more to learn about my faith and myself but I have realized that without God, I am nothing. Once I began to focus on all of the blessings in my life, I realized that God has been with me throughout every step of the way
I am excited to begin the next chapter of my life and plan to rest on God’s promises in order to see me through the trials and frustrations that I will have to endure, as I become an adult and a stronger Christian. I cannot wait to attend Biola University and Minor in Biblical Studies so that I can learn more about my faith and the Bible.