Thursday, 8 September 2011

Confessions of a 20-Something – I have a “testimony”

Photo Credit: Stuart Bury:

Today I am taking part in a blog series hosted by Ally Spotts, called Confessions of a 20-something Christian. I loved reading the various blogs and everyone's confessions today and thought I'd share mine. This is my journey, it's unique to me but perhaps you can relate. Also it's long...sorry.

 I remember going to revival meetings and Sunday evening services and sometimes Wednesday evening services. The kind of services where people got healed and saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Depending on what the cool church kids where into that night I'd either be right up ons all that or sitting in the back laughing over “Angel's prostate fall” in the hymnal. I know, high brow humour. 

Anyway, a big part of those services, particularly if there was a guest speaker, was the testimony time. Many times we'd have a guest speaker, some evangelist who had a touring ministry. Typically this evangelist/speaker would give his testimony and then an alter call. It was the testimony that was always so exciting to me as a kid. The evangelist would be some former Hell's Angel, who had killed three people, shot another five, was addicted to crack cocaine, and a boozer, with tattoo's and holes where earring used to be. Then by the glory of God they got turned around and they gave up all that junk and started preaching the word of God. Their stories were so amazing!

 I used to think it would be so cool to have a story like that...without having to actually do all that.

When I was in grade ten I was part of a little missionary group. It was about twenty students plus youth leaders who got together to go on a week long trip to the U S of A to do skits and share the gospel at various church youth groups and such. One of our tasks before going was to write out and memorize our testimony and then share it with our home church. I remember being at the front of the church sharing, saying that I thought that I was lucky because I didn't have a “testimony” like we were all used to hearing. I was a good girl, with good grades, who hung out with other good girls and boys. Peer pressure wasn't a problem because all my friends where christians. Sex wasn't a problem because usually you have to be asked out on a date before that happens. Drugs or booze? Shocking! I was perfect, (if you don't count fighting with your sisters...which I didn't.)

Fast-forward 10ish years later...

Remember Blast From The Past? Remember that little malt shop that some lady builds over the family's fallout shelter. As the years pass you see that little malt shop go from cute little perfect place to a hippy bar/diner, to scary biker bar, and finally just an empty building graffitied and rundown.

Well let's just say I had a few phases myself. A unchristian boyfriend in my senior year of high school, a drink here and there first year university, and so on and so on. (I'm not going to go into detail because I've done some things I'm ashamed of. If you ask me I won't lie, but I'm not going to broadcast all my failures because that's not the point.)

I still went to church every Sunday and said all the right things. People still thought I was living a charmed life. I'm sure there were cracks in the mask I was wearing but people are really good at ignoring them when you tell them you're fine and besides, people are really mostly only concerned with themselves. No judgement, that's just humanity.

During that time I bought into all the lies. “It's cool” “Everyone our age does this” “It's normal” “You're fine” At least those are the things I told myself when I went out to party. I wasn't even trying to be rebellious. I had a happy childhood, good parents and I was a likeable kid. Who knows why I got into that kind of lifestyle. Probably mostly the product of the people I hung around with. I was influenced more than I was influencing. Maybe a lack of good friends with good influences that actually related to me and my interests. Likely both in some ways.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) says,

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Thank God my parents prayed for me and taught me about Jesus. Thank God that even hungover and tired, something inside me pushed me to church every Sunday. Thank God that I moved to Toronto, to PARTAY and came home a woman fiercely devoted to her God.

Dear God, I have a testimony...

I'm happy to report that I haven't killed anyone, or even shot at anyone (paintball not included), I've never been addicted to hard drugs or even 'mild' drugs. Black outs were kept to a minimum and my virginity remains intact. However, I had to become completely empty and hopeless and admittedly more than a little depressed (just like that bar in Blast...) When I got there God was waiting.

It's hard to write about these grandma reads this.

I never really wanted a “testimony” but I've got one.

Thank God for grace.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Lesson 6: Enjoy the journey

This has been one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn and relearn and relearn my whole life. I've always been the kind of person who wants the destination. I was totally the kid asking “Are we there yet?” and trying to figure out how many Sesame Streets till we got there. For reals now, if you're going on a trip you are wanting to go SOMEWHERE! Unless you go on one of those movie road trips, but even then they montage most of the boring stuff anyway.

BUT I know it my head that the real life lessons come during the journey. The heart transforms on the journey. Relationships develop during the journey. Your life changes on the journey.

Because I've been a highly destination focused person for most of my twenty-something years I know I've missed out on some really beautiful moments in my journey. Guess how I spent most of two months in Africa on a missions trip? Thinking about what I would tell everyone when I got home. For serious guys, half way across the world and my head was in a cold church in Canada. I can't tell you the names of the kids I worked with. How sad is that?

We do that in relationships a lot too. We meet someone and suddenly they are our best friends and we hang out with no one but them. (Camp friendships anyone?) Or in dating relationships, we're the worst! Meet a guy, shake his hand, and in the morning make him breakfast. When you really take the time to get to know someone you can take a really exciting journey. Maybe it has a specific well defined definition (eg. Marriage) or maybe it will run it's course. Just think of all the things you can learn from another person before any of that happens!

Family is a great journey because typically you are stuck with them for at least the first 17-18 years of your life. You get to learn from parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins your whole life. That's pretty exciting to me! (Plus I have totally cool parents and grandparents.)

Everyday and every moment is another little bit of your journey. Don't rush it. You're gonna die eventually. Until then, what can you learn? What can you see? Who can you get to know? And relax, you'll get there when you get there.

The Apple Orchard <<I just read this and though YES! EXACTLY!!! 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Lesson 5: Take time for the important moments

I'm a simple gal. (no, not “simple” I didn't ride the short bus to school) I'm a gal who enjoys the simple pleasures in life. I prefer looking for the little things in each day, savouring them and enjoying them for the simple pleasures they are. I've had a lot of time this summer during the day in which to learn to enjoy simple things because I've purposefully not gotten a full time job or booked myself up with activities.

So I've decided to list my 5 current favourite simple pleasures.

  1. YouTube – You might think that this is just what lazy people do on their computers when they have nothing better to do. Fair enough. I happen to love youtube and the crazy videos that people put on it. My perpetual fave...
    1. Schmoyoho – anything they do is gold to me.
    2. The Muppets – again, gold, every little bit of it.
    3. The Lonely Island – not for children or the ultra sensitive.
    4. Little House On The Prairie – I've got episode one to start you off, you're welcome.
    5. WatchListenTell – amazing indy music played outside in London for the hipster in us all.
  2. Early to bed Early to rise – A friend the other day mentioned that she started going to bed early and getting up early when she spent a week at the cabin. I discovered this early in the summer as well. There is so much day when you get up early. The cool warmth of the early sun with a cup of coffee and a book out on the porch. My heart opens up just thinking about those summer days.
  3. Baking/gardening – Something about putting on an apron and getting a little floury/being barefoot in the muddy earth. It's gritty, it's real, and there is nothing like cooking up fresh garden veggies or pulling a hot banana loaf from the oven. Maybe I should have been born a Hutterite...or in the days of Little House On The Prairie.
  4. Conversations – Like real conversations. I love scheduling a lunch or coffee when I've got all the time in the world for that one person I'm meeting. No rushing off to the next thing. I can really listen to them and connect to their heart. I imagine a little magic going between us and it gives life to each person. Well at least I feel like I've gotten life energy from them and hopefully I've given them some too.
  5. Time for God – For reals. It can be hard to develop a habit of just talking to God and letting him talk to you. Remember number 2? I'd often sit outside first thing the AM and read my bible and then journal and talk to God for awhile after that. My faith has been challenged and my relationship with God is closer than it's ever been in my whole life. For serious. And out of that comes better relationships with my parents, sisters, friends. What could be better?
So there you go, my 5 favourite things. You might right me off as a weirdo hippy dippy hipster freak...I'm okay with that. I hope I at least encouraged you to laugh, listen, feel in each moment because that's really all we have in this life. Just a series of moments you either remember or you don't. I want to remember my moments and taking the time to live them makes them more memorable.

Until our next moment together,