I grew up in a Christian home and considered myself a Christian from a young age. However, though I attended church on a regular basis and tried to make good choices, I never really had a personal relationship with God. In my early teenage years, I started attending conferences and summer camps, and I began to experience God on a personal level and started building my faith.
Then, when I was 15, my mom passed away from cancer and my whole world was shattered. I lost every little bit of faith I had built up at that point. I was devastated, hurt, confused, lost, and furious with God. That following year, everyone told me not to turn away from God because he was the only one who could get me through that heartache. But every time I tried to get close to Him, the walls I had put up kept me from connecting to Him.
Over the next few years, it looked like I was drawing closer to God and relying on him on the outside. In reality, I was moving farther and farther away from Him. I felt like I couldn’t trust God, and every new challenge I faced in life made me resent him more and more.
Last summer ago I was at my breaking point. I could not see a future that was positive and hopeful, and I just felt like I couldn’t carry on. Then, one Sunday in July, God dragged me through the doors of Eagle Brook’s Coon Rapids campus. It was only the second time I had attended the Coon Rapids campus, and it was the first time I had been to church at all in a few months. Needless to say, I didn’t have very high hopes for the service. But that Sunday was the first message in the Shatterproof series, and God showed up in a way he never had before. My life completely changed that day.
I have been to church pretty much every Sunday since then, I have a church family I know I can rely on, I am very involved in the church through volunteering, and I have a joy, peace, and hope that I have never felt before. I know God is real and he is good, and I have recommitted my life to him and couldn’t be happier! On Feb. 12, 2017, I took the next step in my journey of faith and got baptized. It was so incredible to be able to make a public declaration of my commitment to God. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for my future and I am beyond blessed to be able to call Eagle Brook my home!!
Throughout my middle school years, I was bullied and harassed—both at school and at home. I was mostly bullied for my weight and appearance, which made me feel so insecure and self-conscious. At school, I felt like I had no friends and that I was completely alone. People would shove me into the wall or intentionally bump into me and tell me to go kill myself. At home, my step-dad would call me fat and worthless. I started hating myself. I didn’t know what I had done to deserve all this. Things got worse and worse, and by the winter of my eighth-grade year, I reached a low point and made plans to end my life.
Around Christmas that year, my family was invited to attend Eagle Brook for the first time. We went, and during the middle of one of the songs I looked up at my mom and she had the biggest smile on her face. I hadn’t seen her that happy in a long time. At that moment, I realized that if I was going to take my own life, I would be taking something away from other people, too.
We started regularly attending Eagle Brook after that. I still thought church was lame, but I didn’t entirely hate it. As stupid as I felt, I started praying every night that things would get better. Eventually, they did. I started making more friends at school. The summer after eighth grade I invited one of my friends to Eagle Brook for the first time and she loved it. We found out about REV and started going almost every Wednesday. By the end of ninth grade, my mom and step-dad got a divorce. It was sad but, I knew everything was going to be okay because God was going to help us through it.
Last summer, I went on the Big City ’16 mission trip. On our last night there, during devotions, I felt God’s love for the first time. I don’t ever cry in front of people, but that night I cried in front of everyone. I felt an endless love that had completed the missing piece to my life. I accepted Jesus into my heart and made the decision to follow Him for the rest of my life. Later in the summer, I publicly declared my faith in Jesus through baptism. I am completely happy with my life and I want to continue God’s work. If it wasn’t for the people in my life or this church, I wouldn’t be here today.
If you’re interested in getting baptized next weekend, register here!