Chapter One: The Background
Updated: Jul 17, 2019
Well hello there, for those of you that do not know, my name is Rachel. I have thought about beginning this project in various ways, but eventually came to the simple conclusion: I have to start somewhere and it might as well be now. Let me begin by this disclaimer: I am a Christian and it will influence my writings; however, I will never hide from the difficult, taboo, or vulnerable topics in life. This project was born in order to create a culture of honesty, transparency, and openness in a seemingly divisive world. My goal, and the one that God has placed on my heart, is to shed light on dark places, speak honestly in areas clouded with lies, and bless people in troubled places. Not to say that I am in a perfect place and just want to sit on my pedestal and sprinkle my "magic Jesus dust" on those less fortunate. *Cue Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid* ANYWAYS ~ It is important that this blog remains a place of vulnerability and transparency in my life, as well as facilitating those values in others people's lives. Having said all that, I would like to tell you a little about myself and why I am writing this.
Where to begin, oh goodness. I guess I will start with my testimony. Buckle up. Starting from the beginning, I was raised in a Christian home, rather a home that discussed God and actively attended church. During my childhood, my parents searched for a church home to plant our family and find a community. In a small town, this was impossible, as we were constantly the new people and, well, we were outsiders. Visiting churches and being the "new kid" forced me into social situations where discomfort was inevitable (explaining much of my humor and avoidance of surface level social interactions). By the age of 8, I was jaded and resentful toward just about every adult I had come in contact with and would come in contact with. Basically, I was burnt out. After 8 more years of attending church and trying to fit in, I came to the conclusion that it was a waste of time. When I was 16 years old, I told my parents that they can continue forcing me to attend church, but I will only further rebel and it will not be my conscious decision. And yes, I know, that was quite bold to tell my parents. However, you will quickly learn that I am often bold, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, I have learned to bridle my tongue in many ways. Alrighty, back to the story, by age 16, I basically believed that anyone claiming to be a Christian was just simply someone writing "I AM A GIANT JUDGMENTAL HYPOCRITE" on their forehead. I was completely convinced that people claiming to be Christians were using a belief system to justify their faults, behavior, and lies. It turns out, I was not exposed to Jesus, but rather had come in contact with religious abuse and legalism. For 5 years, I wrestled with whether I even believe in God, mainly because I could not fathom how so many people claiming to believe in Him were some of the meanest, cruelest, and exclusive groups of people I have ever met. I could not understand how a loving God would allow me and many others to walk through these types of circumstances. Surely He was just a reason that those people were able to wiggle out of taking responsibility for their actions. During this time, starting in high school, I developed severe depression and anxiety. With unhealthy relationships, unstable environments, and reckless behavior, I began digging a hole so deep that I could barely see light when I finally looked up. It felt like I was treading every single day. My feet could touch the ground and I had the ability to walk, but I was never making progress.
Beginning in the Summer of 2017, my life came to a screeching halt and everything around seemed to fall apart at once. Every single problem, relationship, and trauma finally came to a peak and I realized that I could no longer keep it at bay. Being a Psychology major, I realized that I would be foolish to not seek professional help. Through someone I knew, I began seeing a Christian counselor, not being a Christian myself...I realized that this could possibly be difficult. My perspective of God was molded and perpetuated by His "people." I feared this would be one more opportunity for shame and judgment. My second therapy session was basically me explaining, to my Christian therapist, how much I think Christians suck. Once again, BOLD. I ranted about how God isn't for me because I am unable to fit into a box and I cannot just be told what to think. I have and always will be an independent thinker, so the image portrayed to me, and the one I accepted, was that the narrative of being a Christian involved people that cannot think for themselves, yet judge and condemn others. After my rant, my therapist just simply asked me if I believe in God, and I answered with "well I guess so." She asked if I believed in a God that created me and everyone else with an intricate and grand plan from the beginning. I was startled and caught off guard that, for one, she engaged back with me, and, two, that she did not seem to judge me. Her next response was simple and straightforward, and it sliced right through the narrative I had been buying for years. She said "The God I serve is a loving, almighty, and all-knowing God, yet He gave His children free will. Who do you think gave you that independent spirit? And who gave you the ability to think? Why would He give it to you and not want you to use it?"
I think about this exchange often. It was the moment that God began to chip away at my stone. Gears started moving and revelations began to take place. For lack of time, I am a college student after all, I will speed up the story. After 2 months of counseling, I started to attend church for the first time in 5 years. A month later, I had a therapy session about letting go of my life and surrendering the idea that I can fix it all. Half way through the therapy session, when my therapist was talking about her relationship with God, something clicked. Suddenly, my entire life flashed before me and I realized that I was missing something. I walked to my car and started the engine. The song Wonder by Hillsong came on the Christian station I had been listening to, and I realized that I had not experienced that. I threw my hands up and said "OK God...I am done. You do whatever you want. Come into my life and do whatever you want because I am done trying to figure it out." After that, I started to see again. He chipped away at my heart with persistence and in supernatural ways. For the first time in my life, I knew what it was to love and be loved. I was redeemed, saved, delivered, loved, and crafted by Him. This is not to say that everything difficult in my life disappeared..that is another post, and don't worry, I will share all about that. For now, I just want to talk about what Jesus did for me....and YOU. He paid, in FULL, for my salvation. Not that I can work hard enough, control my life, and eventually reach perfection. I have much more to say about grace and what Jesus has done, but I will just direct you to this link: https://youtu.be/MOIxxHtPpnw
This is the summary of my story. I hope this, in one way or another, helps you. I will post again soon ~ because like every millennial, I know that my opinion is wanted and of the utmost importance (hopefully you will realize that is sarcasm, but if not, maybe this parenthetical phrase will let you know). Have a blessed day!