Sunday, March 11, 2012

{This is My Story} testimony series: Amy

Meet Amy...
"I was born in Chicago, IL to two of the most loving and wonderful parents that you will ever meet.  Both of my parents had come to know Christ and made Him their Lord and Savior by the time I was born.  My mom did so a young age and my father had done it in his late teens.  Our home was always a loving, peaceful, encouraging environment.  I was an active part of our church while I was still in diapers.

I asked Jesus to forgive my sins at the age of 3.  By the grace of God, it really did "stick", and I continued to love and grow in God all the way up through adulthood.  During my awkward and socially intimidating junior high and high school years, I dove into my church youth group as my place of acceptance, my primary social outlet, and my source of deepest friendships.  I was so blessed to be a part of a truly amazing youth group that "glamorized" knowing God well, knowing the Bible, and living out your faith in an unmistakable way.  High school was time of exponential spiritual growth for me.  I had the opportunity to experience the joy of serving God on missions trips to Alaska, England, and El Salvador, and I learned how to share my faith with strangers.  I got to pray for people and saw God answer the prayers.  I became hungry for God's word, and loved reading my bible at night before I went to bed.  I had a pink leather bible, and it is full of highlighted verses (in all colors), circled ones, notes, and hearts around various promises that I really took to heart.  I loved the thrill of learning what the Bible had to say and memorizing it.  I even posted colorful sticky notes all over my room to help me remember the verses that mattered to me most at that time.  This is ALL due to God's work in my heart at that time.  He drew me to Himself to get to know him in a real and unmistakable way, which would serve me well as I would have to fall back on that real experience with the Lord in later years when my mind was causing me to doubt and question God.

I decided on a liberal arts Christian college called Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.  Part of the "liberal arts" gen-ed requirements for my Spanish and Education majors included classes on apologetics - the defense of the faith.  I also took another class entirely focused on theological issues and basically questions that are impossible to answer with certainty.  These classes caused me to have to re-evaluate what I believed and why I believed it.  Could I explain the reasons behind my understanding of God and how he worked?  In many cases I could not.  My mind would spin all day with questions about God and confusing, unsettling attempts to answer those questions didn't leave me very confident.  It was hard.  I remember praying at one point and saying something like "God, I don't feel like I know who you are anymore.  I thought I did, but now I'm not so sure". 

This "crisis of faith" came at the end of my college career, when it was already a scary and confusing time.  "Where will I get a job?  Will I be good in this field of work?  Where will I live?  What do I really want out of life?" were all questions that filled my mind at that time.

Fast-forward a few months.  I did get a teaching job (back in the Chicago burbs where I grew up), and got settled back in my hometown.  Still not completely back to the point with God that I was in high school, yet still committed to serving Him and seeking Him with all my heart, I began another rough season

The trigger for this season was a strong feeling of rejection in the guy arena.  There were several relationships I had been in over the years, and other relationships without the title - that ended in the guy finding someone better than me and abruptly cutting me off.  I know this happens to girls (and guys) all the time.  But for me, in this case, the rejection was enough to send me into a depressive state that lasted almost 2 years.  I developed what I would call today an eating disorder; not to the point where I got sick but I definitely saw food as an enemy - an enemy to my being pretty enough to be desired by a guy?  Maybe, but that thought wasn't really going through my mind during this time.  Perhaps it was just an enemy to me being in control of my situation.  I journaled A LOT, spent an inordinate amount of time at coffee houses thinking and trying to pray to God to rescue me out of this, but it hung on for about 2 years.  It literally felt like a dark cloud over my head or a sad and dreary haze my brain was stuck in that it couldn't get out of. 

One day, though, my faith began to return.  I hit a cracking point and told God that I had no better choice than to trust Him and His goodness.  That has been my mantra since then. 
If you cannot trust God, whom can you trust?

God slowly brought an amazing group of girlfriends around me, and we developed deep friendships that involved being honest about what we were going through, and praying for each other about everything.  God was active in our lives, and as He changed us, answered our prayers, and taught us things, we were living examples of His goodness to one another.  Those friends held me up and I was able to do the same for them. 

The more I learned to trust God in EVERY area of life, the more I began to pray for my future husband.  I was 23 years old, and I felt ready to be married.  I began writing extremely specific prayers for him in my journal, and praying that God would prepare the two of us to meet soon. 

A few months later, on a trip to Minnesota to visit my brothers at college, I met a friend of theirs.  He intrigued me.  I was careful not to move very quickly because I really wanted the next person I dated to be my husband. 

As he and I got to know each other, he began telling me about things that had been going on in his life over the last six months.  Much of what he said sounded very familiar.  I went back to my journals and read the entries I had written to pray for my future husband.  You could literally go through with a pen and check off the prayers I had prayed with the events that had transpired in his life.  God was graciously giving us the affirmation we needed to move forward with confidence in our relationship.

We have now been happily married for almost 7 years.  We have two beautiful daughters together, which has served to knit us even closer together as we see each other shine in our roles as parents.  I have come to a confident and profound assurance of my savior’s love, faithfulness, and providence for me, and I thank Him for showing Himself to be so real in my life over these years.  I just love Him, don’t you?

That is my story.  My testimony.  The one I used to think was boring because I did not have a dramatic "before and after" God comparison.  I now know, though, that my story is a testimony to God's faithfulness.  He will NEVER change even though the situations of our life do.  We go through many different seasons, and He is gracious to love and carry us through each and every one. 
Thank you, GOD, for your goodness.  Thank you so much for being so real in my life.  Please meet my friends in their times of need, and show yourself to be the faithful friend you've always been to me."  

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Amy!
Check out Amy's awesome blog here for some inspiring and fun posts!  

This is My Story Testimony Series
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