My brother and his wife are by far the most influential people in my life when it comes to my faith.
My brother and I lived in a household with a single mother who gave us more than we could ever deserve or pay her back for. While she was the best mother that anyone could ever ask for, and still is, Thomas and I could have very well turned out to be children who turned from God and who chose to follow a path of sin without repentance.
I know I did for a long time.
I grew up going to church and having a strong core group of friends who were believers. I was blessed to hold leadership positions in Sunday schools, youth groups, and groups designed to help the well being of others through Christ. I went to church every Wednesday and Sunday, not only because I loved the Lord and it was right, but also because I wanted to.
I went to college fully believing that my faith would stay the same because I was comfortable and because I “knew God.” I thought I was invincible to anything that would come in my path and I thought that because I had “prepped,” in a sense, that The Lord would guide me where I wanted to go.
I spent the first few weeks looking for churches with my roommate, enjoying the message but not truly connecting, and sort of floating on the surface level idea that I was a good Christian.
What is a good Christian and how do you define it?
Thomas would define it as, “somebody who recognizes they are a sinner in need of a savior, and they strive to live out His commands.”
Annie, his wife, would say, “a good, complete ‘Christian’ doesn’t exist because the world is imperfect and we as humans fall short every single day, but a ‘good’ Christian has a deep, growing relationship with the Father, is in daily need of Christ’s saving grace, and is filled with the Holy Spirit and has a life that bears good fruits.”
(Once Thomas heard Annie’s answer he told me not to post his because she blew him out of the water and, honestly #goals).
Alright, I just threw a lot of things at you and maybe you are feeling convicted, because I know I am, but try to bear with me.
Fast forward to the end of freshman year. I bet you are expecting me to say that I found God in college, I turned into a better person because of the church I plugged into, and I was on a golden path. Well, I wasn’t. I was a wreck.
I gave into sin, I directly disobeyed The Bible even though I knew in my heart what I was doing was wrong. I acted out because I was so spiritually lost. I was beginning to slip in school, lose my motivation, hang with a crowd that didn’t share the same beliefs as I did, and, honestly, I didn’t really want to be alive.
I was in a dark place as a person who identified as a “strong Christian” not even nine months prior to those moments, which ultimately made me resent the Lord.
I wasn’t ready to completely give up though, because there was a small shred of hope still left in me from all the scripture that I read and all of the advice I personally had given to those struggling with their faith.
With all of this in mind and with me trying to stay positive, God threw in one event, one singular two hour event, that would alter the way I acted, thought, and functioned for the rest of my time here on earth, and let me tell you, I had enough; enough of this Christianity, enough failing, enough pain.
I didn’t feel worthy of this God that let His only son die for my sins, die for the sins of the people that hurt me, that allowed these things to happen, so I branded myself with that title- unworthy.
I was unworthy.
Why did God allow me- anyone- to suffer like this and to feel like everything that was once familiar and beautiful has come crashing down and has molded itself into something that was distorted and unrecognizable?
When I tell you that I was ready to give up for good, I am not kidding around or saying it for the pity and attention of the masses; I was done.
I was done until I heard a sermon discussing Romans 5:8 and this sermon, this God, His son- They saved my life.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In this darkness, this intense, brooding, overwhelming feeling of loneliness, of despair, of self hate, of this resentment of God, of His son, of Christianity as a whole – God loved me still. Nothing that I could ever do or ever will do will allow me to fall short of the glory of God, and trust me, that is so hard to believe at times, but it’s also what Christianity is – having faith.
It’s not a pretty journey to walk with the Lord, to get to wherever it is He is leading you to. It’s not a beautiful, simple thing, this journey to feel worthy and to feel loved. It’s not easy because we are broken and sinful people. We aren’t called to be perfect, simply called to walk in love.
You never have to work for His love or work to be worthy of Him because He died for you. You never have to wonder if He is with you, because He is. His silence isn’t to hurt you, but to teach you. His plans for you are far greater than anything you could ever plan for yourself.
I grappled for a long time about why I was following the path that I was, the path of sin and utter disappointment, but at the end of the day, it was to be where I am today- knowing God and walking in a love greater than anything I will ever know. I have a small reminder over the place on my arm that was hard to look at prior to the tattoo that everyday, no matter what, He is faithful in the darkness.
Jennifer La Bianca’s Photo