Whenever I am asked to share my personal testimony, I find it difficult to narrow down exactly what to emphasize. God called me to live life with Him when I was a toddler and thus everything in my life is inter-connected with my walk with Him.
It is challenging to summarize a lifetime worth of experience within a few paragraphs, but throughout my life God has been a constant companion and close friend. As I learned to draw near to Him through Bible study, going to church, and prayer and worship, I found that He drew near to me as well. That He seeks out two-sided, beneficial relationships. And I have been blessed to have His guidance and companionship for as long as I can remember.
However, there came a time when I began to pull away from God. As a college student, I began to think differently about my approaches to various things, including God, spirituality, and church. Having suffered from negative church and ministry experiences in high school, I began to pull away from church and community to better understand my own identity.
During this season of my life, I began to branch out and make more decisions on my own, without prayerful consideration. While I do not believe I made too many negative choices during this time, I did begin to view myself as a modern “Independent Woman.” Everything we gain in life we get for ourselves. I began to rely more on myself than I relied on God. While this new perspective enabled me to make some positive decisions, like choosing to get into better physical shape and choosing to transfer to a college that better fit me as a person, it bled over into my walk with God as well. I began to wonder how much God really cared about the little things in my life. Does God really care whether or not I go on one date with so-and-so? Does God really care what major I choose, or do I have a choice?
To be honest, I still do not have complete answers for these questions. But I have learned that life becomes much easier when we include God in the decision-making process.
In 2012, the Lord led me to lay down my independence to restore our relationship to a more healthy place. He directed me to participate in a Discipleship Training School with an organization called Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, in Denver, Colorado. Within the first few weeks of living in the mission-organization’s community-based dorms, God specifically spoke to me,
“You are not ‘Miss Independent’ anymore.”
In truth, learning to depend more on God and more on others has been a painful process. Since summer 2012, I have been living with multiple roommates, rather than living in my own apartment. If I choose to not clean up after myself, it literally affects everyone around me. My main sources of income have come from odd jobs, as advertised in various communities or through fundraising, which involves trusting completely that the Lord provides.
But while I did need to lay down an aspect of my personality and perspective to re-connect with God, I have learned that He is quick to re-fill us when we empty ourselves. Giving up my self-reliance has given the Lord a chance to show me the benefits and joys of interdependence. Doing life independently also means doing life alone. And the God who is three-in-one never envisioned a life for man (or woman) that is alone.
And so, I am in a place of learning deeper reliance on God – the One who gave me this life and chose to walk with me from such a young age. I hope to continue to move forward with Him, one step at a time, trusting in His infallible judgement. I am learning that I do not have to walk alone, nor carry the weight of my future because He simply wants to live each day with me.
And the most amazing thing about Him is that He wants to walk just this way with you, too. He is able to walk with each of us in just as deep a relationship as the rest of the humans He created, and it is a privilege to be a part of the story He is creating.
Isaiah 30: 21 – “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”
PS – Here is a photo of me with my 2nd best friend in life – my guitar named Astrid. We were about to play for an Irish Pub in NC at the time.