Hey, guys! Welcome back to the blog. If you’re new and haven’t read my first post, I suggest taking a peek at that before reading this.
Today, I’m going to be talking about something I’ve shared over and over again, and that is my testimony. Now for those who don’t know what I mean by that, let me explain. As a Christian, my personal story about how I came to know Jesus is called my testimony. (Fun fact: the Latin root for testimony is testis, meaning “witness.”) This story is basically my “eye-witness report” on Jesus based on how He has worked in my life.
So, let’s get into it. (I’m also prefacing with this: even if you aren’t a believer, I still think it’s worth reading.)
I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church every Sunday, Sunday school after every service, my parents volunteered, and every summer I would attend countless Bible camps. I was also baptized at some point between the second and fifth grade at a Lutheran church. It was all great, but when you’re ten or younger (or at least in my experience), I can’t say I actually understood what the whole “Jesus” thing was about. All I knew was that I was loved by a kind and giving God. To be fair though, that’s not a bad start for a kid in elementary school.
Fast-forward to fifth grade. My friend at the time had invited me to a church camp for Lutherans, and honestly I was just going because it was a week away, and what kid doesn’t love summer camp away from their parents and siblings?
Yes, that was me in the fifth grade. When thinking about how I wanted to tell my story, I dug up this picture from that camp, and *actually* laughed out loud. To this day, this still sums up my personality. lol. I was (am? same thing?) such a weirdo.
I mention this camp because it was the first pivotal moment for me with God. I very vividly remember asking my counselor at the time, “How can I possibly love God more than my parents?” I look back on that and laugh a little because it was so pure (and just plain funny – I was really stressed, guys).
I remember the last night at Camp Lutherwood, we did a candlelit worship night, and I couldn’t tell you anything, except for the fact that me and my friend were bawling. Full-on Crocodile tears.
Now, in middle school I guess you could say I was a fairly normal teenager who didn’t looooove going to church. I’d fight it a lot, and just found it boring. Growing up, we switched churches a few times and to me, it all just felt, well, eh.
Right around eighth grade, my mom decided my sister and I were going to conform to Catholicism with her. Of course we had say in it, but I kind of just went along with it because I had no reason not to. There’s a lot of backstory to this that doesn’t really matter much to my testimony, but we went through the confirmation classes, and began attending the Catholic church here where I grew up.
I attended this church regularly for over two years, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school where the actual story begins. I remember sitting at the lunch table with my friends when one day two college-age girls come up to us. They introduce themselves, and ask to sit with us. We make small talk, and then lunch was over. Never did I think that in that moment, God was planting a seed.
Those two girls became my Young Life leaders, and if you aren’t familiar with Young Life, it’s an organization dedicated to inviting kids to get to know Jesus, and show them what a relationship with Him is like. (In case you were wondering, it’s pretty rad.) But anyway, they became my Young Life leaders, and then one dropped, so I had one leader. She was really only ministering to me for a while there because we could never convince my other friends to hang out with us, but I genuinely grew to love her like a sister. She was there for me during the good and the bad in my life, and demonstrated to me who Christ was through how she lived out her life.
I quickly realized that I didn’t feel at home in the Catholic church, and in attending Young Life events, and hearing leaders’ testimonies and talks, I felt that what I was learning about Him didn’t not line up with the God I was getting to know, but it didn’t feel authentic and free to me. (In no way am I attacking Catholics – this is simply how my relationship with God progressed.)
My Young Life leader then started taking me to her church, a non-denominational, Christian church (where I still attend today), and I wouldn’t say I was instantly hooked, but I kept going until I fell in love with it. (Going from reading Hymns to singing along to a live band for worship takes some getting used to.)
It was right around that time I also attended Young Life camp for the first time. It was the summer after my junior year, and I was the only girl my Young Life leader took of me and my friends. That week away truly changed my life. I can’t recall a definitive moment I “gave my life to Christ,” but I can confidently say it was that summer. The following summer my leader and I took my two best friends with us, and it was even better being able to experience camp with them.
I’m omitting names from this post, but there were definitely a couple other people who heavily influenced my walk with Christ my junior, and especially senior, year in high school. These people all made my feel seen, loved, and worthy, things I’ve always struggled with.
Even when I had made the decision to follow Jesus and live my life for Him, I don’t think the whole “relationship” aspect of it all clicked for me until my senior year. I had had some really long, meaningful life conversations with someone who was (and still is) like a mentor to me and it made me think a lot about how I wanted to live out my life. They asked me hard questions no one had ever really asked me before. I don’t know if they even realize the impact those conversations had on me, but it was pivotal.
I’ve stayed involved with Young Life since, and started leading middle school girls my sophomore year of college (shoutout to you lovely ladies – I love you so, so much). Having the community Young Life provides is pretty great, and there have been times those people have been there for me in seasons I’ve felt lost, and hopeless. I also now live with three of my favorite people on the planet, who also happen to be leaders! yay!
It’s kind of crazy how God plants seeds in your life you may not even realize are meaningful in the moment. For me, mine was my sophomore year of high school when a sweet, God-loving, Oregon State college student came to my lunch table and introduced herself to me and my friends. That turned into a friendship, and my curiosity for what life pursuing Jesus was like. And now I lead girls. And I love them more than they know.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Having faith sometimes is hard. Trusting that God’s got it all figured out is hard. I don’t wake up every day on fire for God because sometimes life isn’t easy, and I lack clarity. He never gives up on me though, and so even when things don’t seem like they’re working out the way I want them to, I remind myself to worry less and trust more.
This whole “relationship with Christ” thing is both the hardest and easiest decision I’ve ever had to make. I mess up a lot and fail constantly, but at the end of the day, I have a loving Father who loves me, and has given me eternal life.
So, there it is. That’s my testimony. There’s a lot more I could include in this post (like the countless lessons I’ve learned), and while I would love to make this a mini novel, I have to cut it off at some point. I hope you enjoyed it regardless, and I encourage you to leave comments below telling me your thoughts. More-so, I would love if you wanted to further talk about my testimony (or yours), so reach out to me through any social media platform I have linked to my site, or through email.
I love y’all, and thanks for reading!
Yours truly, Clare