What was life like before you met Jesus?
I grew up in a Christian home, knowing the truth. Like many kids, I was naive, thought I could do this thing called life on my own, and like so many in the world, I just wanted to be popular and "keep up with the Joneses." I also struggled with being bigger than many of my friends when I was in elementary. Looking back, this probably catalyzed my desire to be popular. So, when being heavier than some of my friends was no longer the case in middle school and high school, all I wanted to be was popular. I always felt something, like a tug, because I knew the truth, but I just wanted to live and not worry. I knew deep down that I wasn't living like Jesus, and I sure wasn't making wise decisions. I tried the popularity route, but it never felt right. God continued to bless me through all of it, though, because I had friends, a great apartment in college, jobs, and all the materialistic things. But there was always something missing. Something tugging in my mind told me I knew the truth, and I wondered why I wasn't confessing my sins and turning back to Jesus. I pushed it off through high school (though I attended youth groups, had Christian friends, and went to Christian camp) and completely ignored it in college. There was always a gap, a tug, and something missing.
How did you meet Jesus?
Christ was always tugging on my heart and in the back of my mind, so my story isn't one where I have a special date. Instead, a few significant memories resonate and build upon one another. To start, when I reflect, I realize He used my brother as a tether. My brother, who is younger and wiser than me, never wavered from the truth and never gave up on knowing that I'd one day truly meet Jesus. He'd sporadically invite me to church, never pressured me to attend, and never was pushy or preachy about how he's better because he has Jesus. He was patient, kind, full of truth, grace and love. However, he stood steadfast, strong, and confident as a believer, and he's always ready to help someone like me, talk about Jesus when the time is right.
Next, when the world decided we should all stay in our homes in 2020, I couldn't take the tug any longer, and I took one more giant step. I spent hours reflecting on what mattered most to me during those days, but at the same time, I was nervous about all the unknowns happening around us. I also started to attend Veritas-Cedar Rapids regularly online and then in person once we were able. Once Veritas-Urbana became a reality, God quickly put me in the most supportive Connection Group, which holds a special place in these significant moments on my journey. When our group meets, I feel a connection with them that’s unique and safe. They’re always there to help me in the lowest of lows and highest of highs, providing guidance and support that’s biblically based. I can be the real me.
As the world was opening back up, my husband and I went on an adult getaway. While on this trip, I woke up one morning and told him I'm different from others on the trip. While I had fun with our friends, I listened to their conversations and realized I wasn't trying to keep up with them and I was looking at the trip (and life) from a different perspective. Whatever happened, it was going to be okay. I didn't need to go out all night, every night while on vacation. I was perfectly content finding the blessings and beauty in the simple things on vacation, exploring the landscape God created, and building my relationship with my husband.
March 23, 2023, jumps out in my mind, I was doing the Veritas Bible Reading planning for the day. Psalm 91 paints the perfect picture of the protection and peace only the Lord can provide. That's what my heart needed, the final piece to say He's the protector, look up, believe in what Jesus did for you, and send all your worries to Him. All of these significant moments were God's plan to tell me to slow down, start listening, and begin admitting that I needed to stop caring if I was popular or keeping up with the Joneses. Instead, I needed to find peace in Him. I needed to pay attention to the blessings He'd been providing all along—my husband, kids, family, a home, a career. Those are HUGE blessings sitting right in front of me and even more importantly, if I'd just have faith, I'd find peace. Romans 3: 22-24 makes the answer to where I'd find peace so obvious, "We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we can all be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we've done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins." We're reminded in Romans 4:16 that faith is the key and God's promise to us is a free gift because Jesus came to live the perfect life, die for our sins and rose again. It cost us nothing, it cost me nothing.
After being saved by Jesus, what is your life like now?
When I put my faith in Jesus, I realized that life is not a popularity contest, and I was never going to be satisfied if I kept trying to keep up with Joneses. I know I am different now, which is often the exact opposite of what the world wants me to do and be. Instead, I get to ask God to keep me in the moment, opening my eyes to the blessings and receiving the peace that only He can provide. You can also have this peace if you put your faith in Jesus and receive God’s gift of redemption, restoration, and eternal life! John 14:27 (NLT) tells us, "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid."