Twelve year ago my life changed. Little did I know that a summer trip my precious grandparents took me on would forever change the trajectory of my life. It was the summer after I graduated high school, and it’s fair to say that I was desperately struggling with depression. You could see it through my fits of anger and crying. I know others have had rougher lives, but my life felt pretty meaningless and I thought that was “just the way it would be.” But to my surprise, that summer trip led me to a time of getting to know my second cousins and my great Aunt and Uncle who showed me that life didn’t have to be full of anger, chaos, and depression, but rather a life filled with joy, compassion, and community! The answer to my depression and seemingly meaningless life was JESUS!
I grew up thinking that being a Christian meant going to church on Sundays, full of smiles, laughter, and a false sense of happiness, only to lead back to a reality of dysfunction, arguments, and ultimately confusion as to where God was when I needed him the rest of the week. That summer of 2010 showed me what it truly looked like to be a Christian. It wasn’t just Sunday mornings at church, then back to living a depressed life every other day. But rather, it was involving God in every aspect of life. I remember thinking, “Why are my cousins so happy during the week?” It didn’t take long to figure out that it was because they sought the Lord each day. They showed me the importance of praying throughout the day, not only in private but also as a family. They showed me that when things were tough, you go to the Lord and seek his guidance through reading his word and praying. They showed me that when you get angry, you don’t just have an outburst, but instead calmly talk through why you are angry. You don’t have to be ruled by your emotions (as I so often was!) But, in God, there is comfort and guidance. They showed me the importance of godly community. Church isn’t just on Sundays but also through the week encouraging each other in community groups. I got involved with a a life group and it was amazing. For the first time I saw that being a Christian meant LIVING for Christ. That means having God in each decision, and showing him glory for all he has done and is doing in your life. God was meant to be the fullness of your life, not just to be a part of it. That summer I was given a glimpse of what my life could be if I would accept the freedom and forgiveness God provides if I surrender my life to Christ. And praise be to God that is what I did…eventually.
See that summer gave me a whole new perspective on living for God. And as I look back now I see that God used that summer to prepare me for the life change that was to come. That summer gave me a desire to know God more and to see if he really could give me a life full of joy like he did for my cousins. I’m here to tell you, 12 years later, God did give me a life full of joy and blessings beyond what I ever dreamed my life could be. I was able to take a trip with my husband this past month to visit the very cousins and great Aunt and Uncle who set the tone for the rest of my life. It was a great honor to share with them how they changed my life so many years ago. I was filled with tears as I shared with them how their love for Christ impacted me. I hope this is an encouragement to you. If you are depressed, there is hope in Jesus. If you are trying to share Christ with others, there is power in your sharing. And if you put your trust in Jesus, your life will forever be changed!