Before I gave my life to Jesus, I was your average standard American cultured college student. Even more liberal in my beliefs then, as college tends to do that a young impressionable person, most things were acceptable. Even though I didn’t really grow up in church or follow God, He was a part of our life growing up. “A part” as in He was mentioned, but no one’s actions ever told me He was really there and working in our lives. For example, something not ideal would happen and it would be “God never gives you more than you can handle”. Or something good has happened and “God showed you some favor today”. But it was never more than that in our home. We had a church we attended, and I had gone to summer camps in junior high school but the impact wore off as the months went on because the same people I attended with we just didn’t have those behaviors outside of church. So needless to say, God and church were something I had just attended but never really took responsibility for any of actions, or second guessed them for that matter.
As the years went on and I was finishing up at Indiana University, I met a man that I was actually interested in. And I say actually because men were a game; something to be had, won over, and then let go. I had a boyfriend on and off for 6 years and was actually moving in with him, his sister, her fiancé, and their 9 month old child. We both cheated multiple times, had horrible fights, and manipulated each other. This was really all I had ever seen, so this behavior was normal to me, but something deep down started to stir, and I knew I had to get away from the life I was living. I was a couple weeks away from breaking up with him for good, when I met Ryan while I was out. I didn’t go out much, but a friend begged me to go see a band her friend played in. The night progresses and he was so different, but with what was going on in my heart I never thought I would see him again, but mostly I didn’t think I deserved a man like that, I wasn’t good enough and quite frankly in my mind that type of relationship didn’t exist.
Fast forward a month, a whole bunch of bad fights, a final break up with my boyfriend, and owing money for my part of the lease later, I was living back home and Ryan and I are now dating. It seemed so soon but it was so different, and I knew I loved him but I was never going to say anything because he was leaving in October for officer candidate school, and again, I wasn’t worthy of this relationship. Once I had made my mind up I loved him but wasn’t going to say anything, he told me he loved me.
It all started to change. We went to church together. We talked about our beliefs together. Though I wasn’t a Christian, and wasn’t sure in general about God in my life, I was open to it. Ryan was raised in a Christian household, and had been a Christian all his life, but a few years back he stepped away from the faith for a while, and right around the time he met me, God was calling him back. And together we started living it more, even praying together a bit here and there, and then talking about how we have been seeing God in our lives.
Summer turned into fall and Ryan left for officer candidate school. We were engaged before he left, and in that moment of saying yes I also knew I was saying yes to something much bigger than myself, but I didn’t know what that meant exactly. I still had the baggage of owing the ex-boyfriend and sister money-$1000.00 to be exact, and that was really hard for a college student to come up with. So I worked very, very hard, and was poorer than the average college student. I was just struggling doing it all on my own. One day after church Ryan’s mom bought me a daily devotional. “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. I read it every day, and started praying, really talking to God because I now had a lot to say and a lot of questions. I found a new strength through His word and these devotionals, but I also found relationship.
When I had all the money together, I was very upset I had to give it away to people who I thought didn’t deserve it with the way I had been constantly treated since the breakup. I was walking up the stairs to do laundry at a friend’s house, and with a full laundry basket on my hip, I was asking God, “ugh! Why do I have to give them this money when they’ve been so horrible”? And for the first clear time, I heard God speak, and He said “because they are my children, too”. I was blown away to say the least, and it’s really hard to even put into words what I felt the first time He spoke to me. But it all became real. He was THERE. He was LISTENING, and He was ANSWERING, but mainly He was REAL and ALIVE in my life. I didn’t complain again, I paid the money, and then Jesus has led me to a freedom I didn’t know was possible.
Ryan came home in December, we married, and two days later packed up and moved to Virginia for his basic school training, and we’ve been on the move in the Marine Corps ever since. It has been four years now, and it would take pages upon pages to describe how my life has changed since I said yes to Jesus. The biggest area Jesus has changed my life is through the freedom He gives you when you know Him. Yes, I still sin of course, but because I know Jesus I have the freedom to change my behaviors because I stand firm to love and honor him, or be as worry free as I can because He has shown himself every single day He takes care of me and provides, or the freedom to not dwell on what the future holds because He is already there. I’m always so thankful that I said Yes to God’s plan, even through our hard times, because it has been the most beautiful ride and I know there is so much more to come!