I grew up in a single parent home; my mom having left my dad, little brother and I when we were five and three. My dad very much valued my brother and I being exposed to church and being in a religious school, and from little on I remember faithfully attending our Lutheran church and school. Whether or not my ears ever heard the true gospel in those places I do not know. I do know that my heart did not. I grew up believing that if I was baptized, went to church regularly, went to “good” schools, and was a “good” person, I was in good stature with God. Even though we didn’t have money, I was very spoiled and felt entitled to the things I received. Our way of communicating was through screaming and hitting (occasionally by Dad). I loved myself and rarely loved anyone else.
Most of the way through high school I was a very poor student and craved intimate attention from my guy friends. I was a quality contributor to my dance line and went on mission trips every year, continuing my thought that I was good enough (even just barely) to be in God’s graces. Then, early in my junior year my dad unexpectedly passed away from a stroke, and my life crumbled, though I wouldn’t have let on to that. I was depressed, rebellious, anxious, promiscuous, and now living with my estranged mother. Thankfully, I started going to a youth group where the leader was different from any Lutheran I had met. He was funny, but serious about grace. It was through his youth group that my stony, dead heart finally heard Truth and felt the warmth of Grace.
Though still loving my sin, I wanted to know Jesus more. The beginning of college at Bethel was awesome. I have never experienced such joy! I loved my believing friends and reading my Bible. My joy was soon squashed, though, when I became one of those young, restless, and reformed stereotypes in my junior year. I loved God’s justice to a fault, and forgot (completely) about God’s joy as a Father and His loving mercy. Only recently do I feel like the wounds of those errors are starting to mend.
I wish I could say that since I was given a new heart, ridding it of sin has been easy, but that would not be truthful! I very much still struggle with self-absorption, entitlement, materialism, unrighteous anger, fear of death, lack of trust, anxiety, depression, pride, and more. But, though those sins are still very real, I know and am comforted that because of Christ I need not be (because I am not) a slave to them (Romans 6:1-14), and that He has promised to complete this good work that He has started in me (Philippians 1:6)! What mercy!