As I grew up, I knew about Christianity and that there were people who really loved Jesus. I went to Catholic school when I was young, but I always felt that religion was a facade. I always said to myself, “I’m going to live a long life. Then, when I get old, I’ll be wise enough or scared of death enough that I’ll become ‘religious.’ ” I did whatever I thought would make me happy. I was desperate for happiness. I’d been struggling with depression since around my freshman year of high school, and nothing was helping take away what I was feeling.
My senior year of high school, I met some people who ended up being awesome friends. The more time I spent with them, the more intrigued I became with the joy that never seemed to stop radiating from them. I now know it was the joy of God shining through them. I was realizing that they really truly loved God, and I didn’t. I wrongly believed that God was malicious and angry, hating me for my sins. So I didn’t understand how they could love Him.
So, exercising the insatiable curiosity God gave me, I asked them to explain God and their faith to me. I met with a good friend one night and she talked about God’s playfulness and beauty, seen all throughout nature. As I was driving home afterwards, lightning struck.
Actual lightning, one of my favorite parts of nature, was flashing through the sky; I knew it was God calling me to come home. I turned to Him and said, “Yes, Lord.”
This was May 11, 2017.
I had signed up back in February to attend Beach Retreat with The Door in June. By the time camp rolled around, I couldn’t even wait. As a clueless new Christian, I was absolutely stoked to be able to learn more about this new life that had been given to me.
I’d never experienced anything like Beach Retreat before. After a few days of fun in the sun, praising, and learning about God and His Word, we came to the second to last day of camp. Just after the worship had ended, we all circled up and Drayton said that, if we wanted to, we could be baptized in the ocean the next morning. I had been thinking about getting baptized, and when I heard that I could, my hand flew to my mouth and I immediately started crying in excitement. God had answered a prayer I hadn’t even yet prayed.
My friends and I woke up early the next morning to watch the sunrise before my baptism. The memory of it is almost even more beautiful than experiencing it, because now I remember everything that came next. We went back inside until we were supposed to convene on the beach. I was fashionably late to my own baptism, but it was really neat to walk up the boardwalk and see everyone gathered there to celebrate what God had done in my life. The water was cold but it didn’t matter. I had just proclaimed to some of the coolest people I’ve met the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.
Looking back, it completely blows my mind to see how much God has worked in my life in such a short amount of time. I am so in awe of Him as I write this. I am a completely different person: so full of His joy, excited about life, no longer afraid of what the future holds for me because I know that He is the one that controls it. I have learned so much about my God and come to love and fear Him, begging Him to teach me more – to increase my trust and faith in Him, even though I fall.
He has brought me the most amazing community of believers here at the University of Texas. My church in Austin is incredible and deeply rooted in the truth of the Word. He is tossing opportunities to share the Gospel with people left and right. I cannot wait for what He will continue to do in my life. All glory to Him!