Q&A: My faith and some insight to this crazy chic

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To go back to the wonderful post in which I was blessed with ample writing material, I was asked these lovely questions:

  • Megan said: When and how did you accept Christ as your Savior?
  • Fah said: If I remember right you went to a church based (can't think of the word I want) school and then switched to a regular public school in middle or high school. What affect if any did that have on you and your faith?
  • Amy said: You seem like a very faith driven person. Have you always been involved in church, church activities etc or is that something you've found and been brought to since marriage? What would you suggest to someone who is looking to get back into the 'church scene'?

I think that I can address all of the above questions pretty well in my testimony and then take it a little bit further. Now, before I turn a lot of you off by thinking I'm going to get all churchy up in here, please know that this will essentially be the story of me. My faith is inseparable from my growth as a person, so you'll get both.

My Mom grew up Lutheran, while my Dad's family was the quintessential Christmas/Easter church going type. Somehow though, I was raised in a non-denominational Christian home. I can clearly remember my Mom crying as I asked her how I would go about accept Jesus into my heart. She was just getting me out of my bath, enveloping me in a towel, repeatedly saying "Mommy loves you, loves you, loves you. Loves you, loves you, loves you," as she rocked me back and forth to dry per our ritual. Just as I now say to Isaac. While I can't proclaim to remember the rationale of my 5 year old self, I can bet $5 it happened then and there because I did, and still do, relate Jesus to love.

A child's faith is extremely pure, as the world is pretty simple. Cause and effect. Right and wrong. Good deed, bad deed. My parent's divorce shaped my prayer life and my sense of self worth for awhile. Oh how many times I prayed for their arguing to stop. I would kneel over the bright orange and brown 70's flowered ottoman, my hand's clenched, certain that if I just prayed a little harder . . . As the divorce was finalized, my Mom had my brother and me see a counselor, for I was certain it was my fault.

For some time after the divorce and my Mom's remarriage, most of my memories of church and faith are of trying new churches with my Mom and Stepdad. I do recall forcing my Dad to drive me to church on Sunday mornings of his visitation weekends, only to have him return and pick me up after the service. I continued on with the youth group at the church my parent's had attended as a family, although neither of them would ever return. I was adamant to attend, because my friend's were there, since the private school I attended was based in the same church.

Northside Christian School, I believe, may prove to be one of the most shaping decisions of my life. My Mom worked three jobs in order for my brother and I to attend, and that we did from Kindergarten to 8th grade. I never felt as though the education was lacking or for that matter better than my friends that attended public school. However, we were without a doubt sheltered. The things that we heard from the neighborhood kids would usually shock us, sometimes purposely so. Our faith was not questioned though, it was not ridiculed. In fact, it was encouraged to question it yourself, in an environment where answers could be provided and ultimately growth accomplished.

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There was chapel on Friday, but honestly, I can't remember now if there was a "Religion" class. How odd is that? I truly can't remember, although I do know that Bible verses were memorized and world history definitely elaborated world religions.

Upon 7th grade there was the option to do missions, either in Minnesota or Mexico. Funds were raised through Delicious Drama {play and dessert}, candy bars sales and the like. I was able to go 4 times, 7th through 10th grade.

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9th grade?

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I used to be quite fluent in Spanish . . . that's another story for a different day.

When the jump finally did have to be made from small private school to large high school . . . I jumped, full out. I wanted to play soccer with my friends at the public high school and I was ready, so I thought, for some worldliness. There was still youth group and Youth Alive conferences in the fall and spring, in addition to the long summer camp.

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I largely remained unscathed in high school. I was able to tilt my head and laugh questioningly at the off jokes. It literally took a month for me to realize the boy sitting next to me in my first class , first quarter freshman year was making fun of me by nipping out everytime he asked me: "Are you cold?" I avoided the "bad kids," stuck close to those with the good grades and continued to push myself academically and athletically. There were boyfriends and make-out sessions with doors wide open, as we both listened for the first footfall which would obviously result in a mad scramble to appear studious. But honestly, I was a good kid. Our high school was large enough that our "group" of friends could have been considered: The popular, non partying, good grades, jockish group. I made it to Homecoming Court {can I write this without sounding stuck up, even 8 years later?}

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And then, I decided to go to school 3 hours away from home, including leaving my boyfriend behind to do the long distance thing. I wanted to know what it felt like to be unsheltered. Make mistakes. Almost intentionally hurt myself. It didn't happen right away. I still abstained from alcohol until the end of my freshman year. I was the permanent designated driver. I carted friends and teammates all about town. I never turned down an invitation to go out, I just turned down too many drinks to count. I think it was fear of the unknown. I had never given into peer pressure before, so why would I then. I went to church once, but I didn't know the people I recognized from school . . . and I never went back. By the end of my freshman year I'd already begun to alienate myself from almost everything that had previously identified me. My faith was present, but more in the "I'm a good person" type, not a faith of action or in word. The clincher - I broke up with my boyfriend, for virtually no good reason.

It's a decision that I still regret to this day. Not because he was my first love, that we spoke about marriage or that he was genuinely a good guy, but because if we had just lasted another year I would have saved myself the worst pain of my life. He remained as my only checking point. He was the only one who could keep me reined in, a reminder of who I was, who I was straying away from. Just another year . . . and we would have known we were not intended for each other, but I would have been another year more mature. Oh this decision that broke the camel's back.

And so the end of my freshman year, sophomore year and half way through my junior year were lost.

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I never did anything terrible in terms of the world. Nothing that my college friend's thought was terrible, or for that matter even bad, but the end of my sophomore year? I still clearly remember sitting on the floor in front of my mirror and sobbing. I could not recognize myself. There was no resemblance of the person I knew reflecting back. Nothing. My image was shattered, values scattered. If my sole intention was to hurt myself, I'd more than accomplished it, as I'd also strained my relationship with my Mom.

I was still reeling when I updated my profile on the dating site with my email address. I was still thoroughly confused with myself when Tony first contacted me. I was still making poor decisions up until the day we went on our first date. But God healed me, through Tony. God allowed the man that was to be my husband to take my pain, swallow it whole and tell me to my face that not only did God forgive and love me, but that he did too.

Take a second and re-read that if you will. I'm almost crying to the point that I was that day in hearing those words. What a man my husband is. What an absolute man of God.

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I can't say it was that second that I began to live my faith instead of desecrate it, but the change was put in motion. Tony showed me again, who I was, who I could be as a faithful woman. One who's joy is to be a delight of the Lord's.

I walked down the aisle to Tony, accompanied by a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace. It may have gone unnoticed by our guests, but it was the absolute perfect selection to Tony and I. We are together, only by God's amazing grace.

I don't feel hypocritical now and I think that that is my only answer to Amy's question regarding joining a church again. People are not perfect, that is why we need Jesus. Christian's do not think they are perfect and they should be soundly aware of their humanity. Go, be yourself, with an open mind, hopefully you will find like minded people who will see you through your reconciliation.


Beth Ann said...

Wow, Leah, once again you have such an amazing way of putting thoughts into words.

Julie S. said...

Amazing story!

Mrs. Lukie said...

Beautifully written! What a lovely testimony :)

Jeannie said...

Leah, you have a great gift of words. You testimony is simply...

Patience said...

You are such a great writer, thank you for sharing your story.

AmberDenae said...

Leah, this brought tears to my eyes. I have so much in common with you, it's crazy. This was beautifully written as well as challenging and inspiring. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such precious details with us. You're a blessing and such a light to so many!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful testimony, Leah.

Lindsey said...

Amazing post!!!! You are a very talented writer and I really enjoyed reading your story!

Jamie said...

I did not expect to read anything like this today, but it was exactly what I needed.

Was it any specific arrangement of Amazing Grace? I'm working on our ceremony music right now and while I never thought of Amazing Grace, I am now. :)

Meredith said...

Oh man, if only you knew how much I relate to so much of your story! Thank you for sharing it.

Also, I totally agree with your last paragraph. On Sunday, our pastor talked a lot about how Advent is a great reminder that we don't have to wait to feel like we're "perfect" to come to Jesus. Rather, he has already come for us, and will continue to come for us as we call, into the midst of even the darkest circumstances. Anyway...thanks for sharing this!

Katie said...

How beautiful Leah! Very sweet of you to put your story out there for us. It was, as always a great read!

Sarah Louise said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony Leah. It brought tears to my eyes.

Q, La, and Gooner said...

You have a wonderful testimony, thanks for sharing.

Shani said...

Thank You. Thank You for sharing your testimony. Your story is similar to mine in many ways. Thanks for your honesty!

AJ said...

So, I've known you for a while now. I love how amazing it is to learn new things about people you know and love. Thanks for sharing, Leah! :) You are soooo a rebel for making out in HS in your room when you were supposed to be studying. I didn't even really want to have a boyfriend, let alone bring one home and make out with him! My parents might've started asking questions! ;) Those were the days.

Melissa said...

Wow, amazing post; brought me to tears. Thanks for sharing! God Bless you! =)

Megan said...

Tears, tears, tears... rolling down my face! Amazing.

J said...

An amazing post, thank you for sharing!!!

Meagan said...

I Love this..

Our God is such a forgiving and loving God. We are very lucky! =)

Unknown said...

Leah, I'm speechless. Just speechless. This is perfectly written and I'm so thankful you shared it with us.

I see so many similiarities between you and me. Between the divorce, mission trips [your pictures brought back soooo many memories!], mistakes made in college and even meeting your future husband right in the middle of chaos! To this day I still don't understand why God brought Jim to me when He did. I was still a flirting, bar employee mess when we met! But it humbles me, that's for sure.

Thank you so much again for sharing this! You are such a gift :)

Anonymous said...


Thank you!

Mrs. McB said...

Thank you for sharing that!!

Courtney said...

Not sure what to even say, girl. Except that I can relate in so many ways, and I'm so thankful for you. This was a beautiful story of growth, written by a beautiful woman. God had blessed you through your experiences and has used you to be such an inspiration and encouragement to others. Don't ever forget how many lives you've touched because of your story.Stay strong, sweetheart! *hugs*

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Leah. It is so comforting to hear about the grace of God in others around us.


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