A pastor at my church has an illustration he likes to use of two types of conversion stories. In the first, a man is walking down a path and suddenly falls into a deep hole. His friend rescues him from the hole and he is saved. In the second illustration, a man is walking down the path with his friend. They come up on a hole and his friend tells him to look out and the man walks around the hole. In both stories a man was rescued – neither example is better than the other. The pastor uses this story to illustrate that all conversion stories are valid, regardless of the drama involved in the story. He additionally uses it to illustrate that, while the first example makes for a better story, the second story is a more preferable experience. I agree. I often wish my life story were of the second type. However, I find that my story doesn’t really fall under either conversion type described by these illustrations.
I would like to offer a third story type. In this example, a woman is walking down the path with her friend. The path is long and hard with many obstacles that her friend helps her avoid. But she still gets hurt. A lot. Then the girl falls and breaks her leg. Only then does she look back at the path she’s been walking with her friend. She realizes how hard and treacherous the path has been. Then she looks at her friend and says, “this path has been hard, it must be so hard because you do not love me – if you loved me, you would have given me a different path, I do not want to walk with you anymore.” And so she turns her back on her friend and, because of her broken leg, immediately falls into a deep hole.
Her friend stays at the top of the hole, reaching her hand down she says, “I am here, give me your hand and I will help you out.”
The girl refuses though, “If you had given me a different path, I would never have ended up here in the first place. How can I trust you now?”
Her friend stays though, she brings food and protects the girl from the bears and foxes and the weather. Through it all, she stays and does all she can to show her love but still, the girl will not take hold of her friend’s hand.
Eventually the girl starts talking to her friend again – she starts to see that her friend is still there, she never left, and she loves her. But she feels guilty and doesn’t know if she can trust her friend. The two begin to talk and the girl begins to confess that she would like help but doesn’t know how to receive it. So her friend gets a ladder and comes down into the hole to sit with her. She urges the girl to climb the ladder with her – the girl tries a little but finds her leg is still broken and the ladder is scary. Finally, after lots of waiting and talking, when the girl finally realizes how much her friend loves her, her friend says, “Enough!” and she carries the girl up the ladder, out of the hole.
The girl’s leg, still broken from the fall, begins to heal. With her friend’s help, the girl learns to walk again and they continue to walk the path again, together. It is still a hard path but it is so much better to walk with a friend.
My conversion story is one of waking away from my faith before coming back to Jesus. It is long and complicated and filled with lots of twists and turns. I hope this blog will be a place where I can tell you my story. Through my telling, I hope you can see all of the ways Jesus was always with me, though I did not always believe that to be true. Jesus’s light and love has weaved its way through my entire life. It is because of Jesus I am here. It because of Jesus my story is what it is. And it is because of Jesus I will share it.
People say that the love of God is like the love of a parent. But, as a parent, I know that the love of God is far better than even the love of the best parent here on Earth. God’s love is greater, and wider, and deeper, and higher than any other love imaginable or knowable (Ephesians 3:18-19) and much more patient and kind and forgiving than any person could ever possibly be (1 Corinthians 13). I am loved by God. That I know to be true and that is what I want to define my life. I want to learn to love other people the way that I am loved. I will stumble and I will fail but I will always be loved and I will strive to get back up and try again.
Beyond that, other facts are:
- My parents divorced when I was seven.
- Both parents were abusive.
- Homeless shelters are sad places but some of my happiest memories was in one when I was a child.
- I lived in so many places I can’t remember them all.
- The day after Thanksgiving when I was 11 I moved into my first official foster home. It was only suppose to be for 6 months. I aged out of the system.
- My first attempt at college was an epic failure and so I joined the Marine Corps.
- Being a Marine is hard. Being a woman in the Marine Corps is even harder.
- I once married the life of the party in Vegas. It’s a story I imagine I’ll write more about one day.
- When I finished my enlistment I learned how to be a civilian again by working at Starbucks.
- I went back to school but dropped out again because I was pregnant.
- My baby girl was born in October 2008. Her father and I never married. We split up when she was 1.
- I finished my Associate’s Degree in 2010.
- I worked as an administrative assistant at a non-profit trying to cure Multiple Sclerosis.
- In 2012 I began a Bachelor’s degree program and studied neuroscience.
- On September 15, 2013 I publicly acknowledged Jesus as my savior and was baptized.
- I dated a guy that was bad for me. Really bad for me. God used that relationship to shake up my life and draw me even closer to Him.
- I started a PhD program in 2017.
- I am scared to be the only Christian you know. I know I will fail to emulate Jesus and love you the way He does. I am a sinner. Sorry. If you want to know what a Christian should look like, look to Jesus. He’s the only one that ever did it perfectly.