The most impressionable church I went to when I was younger completely skewed the way I saw God. I was continually confused about what it meant to be a Christian and what God's role was in my life.
I went to church, I prayed, I cried a lot. I was a good kid, nice to others. Why didn't it feel right? Why did I feel like the least of them when I walked through the church doors? Why didn't I feel accepted by the kids who had formed their cliques in children's church? Why wasn't life getting any better?
Isn't that the big question? God, I'm doing what I'm supposed to; why aren't things getting better? I remember being so confused and just wanting someone to explain to me how to be a Christian.
My hope was in the wrong place.
As a young adult I spent most of my mental and emotional being on relationships. Family, friends, significant others. When things were going well in these relationships life was good, but if there were any hiccups, I was swarmed by desperation and heartache. I was consumed with negative thoughts about myself and would blame myself for any disagreements with people.
Social gatherings were my sanctuary where I could laugh and enjoy conversations with people. My insecurities were so deep and I remember fighting to keep them out of my head. I depended on relationships with people to keep me going; keep me busy; keep me from facing my insecurities. Nothing could break the mold.
My hope was in the wrong place.
After ending a few different relationships and being rejected from a job that I thought I had in the bag, my desperation turned into determination. There was a drive that aroused in me that I had never experienced before. I had finally landed my first teaching position, moved out of my parents house and into a roommate situation with a teaching buddy, and I began a new workout routine. It was as if a fire had been lit under me and I could not be stopped.
When I look back at this point in my life, I realize that the fire I felt was the Holy Spirit. After putting my hope in people, situations, and luck, I finally realized that everything I had been doing was just empty. I refocused my being where my roots were planted. I turned to The Lord in my desperation and He gave me determination.
He gave me hope.
I will never forget the rejection of that first teaching position that I had been reassured I would be chosen for. I, had, for far too long, put my hope in people alone.
Once I began to spend my time with different people I noticed my life begin to change as well. There are certainly wonderful, loving, helpful, and sacrificial people out there, however they cannot give us salvation.
I believe with my whole heart that God wants us to connect with one another. I believe that loving each other is the closest thing we have on earth to God's love. People are the most fascinating thing that God ever created and we were created "in His image" Genesis 1:27. My role as a Christian is to bring God glory. I am His disciple and I am to spread His word. Therefore, as we hope for better days or hope for the best, we must stay focused on what truly gives us hope. God sent His son to save our lives from sin and this fallen world.
If we stay focused on Him, surround ourselves with good people, and treat others as Jesus did, our hope will never fail.
I believe that we all go through mountains and valleys. I also believe that these mountains and valleys we endure are for a greater good. I firmly believe that we must praise Him regardless of our circumstances (Although this could be one of the hardest things in life!). I also believe that He will not give us something to deal with in our life that we truly cannot handle. One of the principles from my Bible study this year was "God will enable us to do what He commands." If He wants something to work towards His good, He will provide us with the tools to fulfill it.
With my story, I'd like for others to learn this lesson: Be careful how you portray your faith. In Matthew 10:40 Jesus explains to His disciples, "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."
From my experience, if you have hope in anything other than God then you don't have hope. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" John 14:6 and with this, we have hope.