Where was I when I was 19? I turned 19 while I was an exchange student to Brazil. I was in a long-distance relationship with a non-Christian man, which ended up causing me a lot of heartache. I had so many questions about God and had come to the conclusion that Christianity is not the truth. I had begun to study Islam and pray in earnest every night for God to show me the truth, because obviously (I thought) Christianity was not it.
Islam seemed so similar to Christianity, but left out a lot of the things I had questions about. How could Christ be "the son of God"? Couldn't he have just been a prophet? Why do so many Christians pray to Jesus and not God the father? Isn't God the father the jealous God? These were just a few of all the questions I had.
|19 year old me with some fresh coconuts in Brazil. This is the tannest I have ever been.|
I was so adamant that I wouldn't live in America that when I returned home after my year in Brazil I went against my mother's will, and I moved to Istanbul Turkey to go to college. I enrolled in as a full-time student at a fantastic college and started the process of rebuilding my life abroad.
And all along, the praying never stopped. I looked like a girl who had it all together, who was living her dreams, but I felt so lost inside. I begged and begged God to help me find the truth.
|19 year old me outside of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Turkey|
One day, as I sat in my bedroom in Istanbul, I suddenly felt this intense change in my heart. To this day I wish I could describe what happened to me, but I all of a sudden felt "filled" with God. I started crying because I knew this was the moment. After years of prayers for answers, God was finally going to answer me! I felt this sudden compulsion to read the Bible. Wait... The Bible?
At this point I was 21, and I had been living in a Muslim country for nearly 2 years. I didn't have a Bible anymore, so I went online and found an online one. I started reading the book of Romans, a book I had studied when I was a Christian teen. It felt like all of a sudden I was looking at everything in a new light! All of a sudden, things that used to be gray, were color. As a non-Christian, this was a radical moment in my life. All of a sudden everything in my head and my heart "clicked" together. All I can think now is that this had to have been the holy spirit working within me, because I sure wasn't looking for Christianity then. In fact, I had an entire list of reasons why I thought Christianity was NOT true.
This momentous moment in my bedroom in Turkey changed everything. That same day I knelt next to my bed and begged God for his forgiveness. I accepted Christ as my savior again, and the act that had seemed so routine before all of a sudden took on an incredibly personal aspect. I had asked God for the truth, and when I was ready, he had shown me what that was.
Since then, I have not faltered in my faith. I still had a lot of questions and I started looking for answers in the Bible, and praying about those questions. It seemed that when I reaccepted Christianity, I started finding answers again.
I realized I needed to live near Christians and get involved in a Christian community again. I realized my future husband would have to be a Christian. So in short order I made the huge decision to do what I had promised myself I would never do: I transferred my credits to a school back home and moved back to America. I still had reservations about living in America again, but I knew I needed to go where I could fellowship with other Christians.
I was baptised last year in front of my church and cried like a baby the entire time. When the pastor asked me why I was crying, I responded "I am just so happy to be here". I am so happy God took me back! No matter the horrid things I said and did, no matter that I turned my back on my savior, he accepted me back! How great is our God?!
When I think about what 19 year old me would think of my current life, I can't help but laugh. 19 year old me would be appalled that I am married, that I am a very conservative Christian, that I am living in America, that I am planning to become a stay-at-home mother, and that I don't travel much anymore (mostly because I am working to get out of my school debt).
But what about what I think now of 19 year old me? Personally, I feel a little bad for her. She does not know what she is missing and doesn't even realize how incredibly lost she is. She has an incredibly bright future, but she will have to go through a lot to become the person she needs to be for that future. If only 19 year old me were mature enough to appreciate who I am now and why. Because who I am now is just so much greater because I found Christ again.
|19 year old me touring a cave church in central Turkey. I was not a Christian then.|
Since then my life has again changed completely. It look me several years to come to an understanding of what this new Christianity meant, and how it should be reflected in my life. I have changed everything from my goals, my thoughts of my future, my style of dress, my behavior towards others, and my plans for the future. The thing is, I know I have finally been shown by God what is true.