This month we take a departure from our normal Marriage Monday fare to get to know each other and think back to our First Love. How did you get acquainted with Jesus? As soon as I got the e-mail from e-Mom about this month's topic, I wished she was present so I could kiss her. I actually wrote out my testimony for a friend's blog on Friday, so I was already prepared! This meant I would not be up late Sunday night writing a blog post. Yippee! As I recall, I did some silent pumping of the air and may have let a yelp loose. Happy day. Thank you e-Mom!
So today you get to hear how I became a Christian. My conversion story is not dramatic. I never rebelled against my parents, wasn't promiscuous, didn't get into the drug and alcohol scene. I've always followed the rules. Throughout my teen years, my sister and cousin continually teased me about being square (uh oh, my terminology just dated me). I used to think I was boring, but as I've gotten older I realize the path God chose for me has been a huge blessing. I don’t have garbage to overcome. I haven’t endured years of therapy. I’m not living with the consequences of sin choices.
I was a shy little girl, a shy, overweight little girl. My sister, just two years younger, was the opposite of me in every way. I have black hair and brown eyes. She is blond and blue-eyed. I was bashful and quiet, she outgoing, the life of the party. My sister is the kind of person that captures a room upon entering. You can’t help but notice her and want to be around her fun personality.
My parents didn't treat us any differently and I always felt loved, but I compared myself to her all the time, coming up short in my own mind. People laughed with her, engaged her in conversation, wanted to be around her. She garnered their attention, while I, being more subdued, was easily overlooked. My inaccurate assessment of our family dynamic caused me to feel less valuable. She was cute and witty and fun. I was fat, timid and boring.
Our family attended a local Presbyterian church. Junior high (ugh—another dated word!) kids were required to attend confirmation classes. This setting provided my first awareness of a personal God.
“God has a special plan for you,” the pastor said, “Jesus wants to come into your life and make you new. You can’t imagine what He has in store for you.”
I remember thinking, “What? God has a specific plan for ME? I’m not destined to a life of living in my little sister’s shadow? Could I be special?!” How I wanted it to be true.
I said the prayer we were taught to pray, asking Jesus to become part of our lives, but after I did, I didn't feel any different. There was no indication at all I’d been heard. I assumed my prayer didn't “take” and for several months kept asking Christ to become part of my life.
And then I started reading the Bible. I read things like, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” and “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The words sunk deep into my young soul, making me want more. They stirred my spirit which longed to know my purpose. The more I read, the more I believed I might be special. The Word slowly transformed me and showed me Truth about myself. The changes were not dramatic, but significant nonetheless.
In the last thirty-five years, my spirit has been continually refreshed and challenged by His Word. It’s gotten me through many sleepless nights. It assures me of who I am and Who I belong to. The Bible makes sense, more than anything else out there. Its prescription for life works. A friend told me recently I am living the blessings of my good choices. I don’t know if that is true or why God chose to spare me from the grief many people suffer because of their past. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but then He reminds me, “To whom much is given, much is required” and I determine the best way to thank Him is to love His people well. So I make it my life ambition to point people to God.
I still can’t believe He looked down, saw this shy, little fat girl and said, “I want her.” Incredible. I am changed for the better and eternally grateful.
Do you feel like I did--overlooked, unimportant, not valued? God offers great hope for you, my friend. Reach out to Him, read His Word and see how He can make you shine.
And if you're interested in reading other conversion stories, visit e-Mom at Chrysalis. May you celebrate your First Love this Valentine's Day.