Everyone comes from a different background and how we are raised determines a lot about who we become. Some lucky ones follow a simple route, but most of us have some bumps along the road. For me, my relationship with God began the moment I was born, I was a cradle Catholic, meaning regular attendance to church, baptism, Sunday school, confirmation, the whole works. Religion was easy and it was a part of my childhood and how I was raised.
I said what I was supposed to say, did what I was supposed to do, and I had loving parents who did all the right things to raise me. I had a relationship with God and while it may not have been a deep relationship, I knew He was there.
Throughout my years in school I did the right thing, made the good grades, and stayed out of trouble. I had planned out my life to a T, to go to college, marry the first guy I fell in love with, and live happily ever after. The spot I had for God in my life was something along the lines of “I’m doing this on my own, but if I need help, God will be there to make it happen for me.”
Toward the end of my senior year of high school I got into my first relationship and I thought it was perfection. Being a hopeless romantic, I thought that once I had the guy, everything would work out perfectly. I no longer needed God because I had gotten everything I wanted and my life was on track without any major effort into maintaining a relationship with God.
Then college came around and I stopped going to church altogether. I took the credit for having myself together on my own and not needing any intervention. Weekends were spent partying with friends and visiting the boyfriend. It’s not that I was against church, as both of my parents are regular attendees, it’s just that I didn’t place it as a priority. So when I didn’t have it as a priority, going to church became a thing of the past. I had my new life on my own where I was happy and church no longer seemed relevant.
It’s a hard blow when you think you had it all together and didn’t need any help and then things just stop working out the way you thought they would. When I got out of that relationship and entered the single pool again, I felt just that, ‘single’. I was dazed and confused and not sure where to head next.
I spent the year searching for more happiness and control in my life in places it wouldn’t be found and Sunday became just another day of the week, void of any real significance. The hardest part became realizing that I was flawed in my thought process for so long. I relied so heavily on this other person in my life as being the reason why I had my life together.
My thoughts for an entire year consisted of believing I didn’t really need God because I had done everything on my own and it was working so well, and now I felt I had messed up along the way. Something went wrong and it took me months to figure out that the thing I was missing was something I willingly gave up.
I hadn’t been to church in months, except for the occasional visit to home, in which I politely obliged to sit through the service with the family. It didn’t mean much to me, my pride still had the best of me. But along the way of getting into my second year of college, the fog cleared, and I felt the slightest tinge of magnetism toward church. Somewhere in the back of my mind I felt I needed to go. Even so, not wanting to admit fault for the beliefs I blindly followed for a year, I came up with excuses.
That excuse held up for a while, until a couple weeks later I got my own car, and spoiler alert, I still didn’t go. It wasn’t until weeks later when I finally made the move to ask my friend if she would go to church with me. But I didn’t just go to the Catholic church I’d been raised on where I’d mindlessly go through the motions, I went to a church that meant something to me, a church directed toward students like me, a church with a community of people like me, a church that welcomed me anytime and every time I show up; I went to Athens Church.
I won’t say that the first time I went back to church there was some jaw dropping, awe-inspiring moment. But I did have a moment, a moment where I felt right where I was supposed to be and that this was the next step in my life to follow through on.
This was something I shouldn’t just try out once and then never show up to again. And I finally realized that no one can do everything on their own, and that the plans I come up with in my head are definitely not God’s plans. No matter how much I want them to be, they just aren’t. I lost my faith for a year, thinking I had everything under control, and it wasn’t until my plan got some bumps in the road did I realize that I wasn’t even on the right road.
To be honest, I’m glad I found out now rather than years later, continuing on with a relationship where I didn’t consider God a priority. I’ve realized I don’t want to settle for a life where God is not a part, and the people I have in my life, should share this with me. I continue to strive to surround myself with people who help me grow closer to God, not leaving me stagnant.
I grew up believing in fairy tales, and while I don’t think Prince Charming is going to come magically sweep me off my feet, I’m still a hopeless romantic in believing that I’ll have my story one day, and God will be there too. By building a relationship with God, I’ll find the community of people I want to be with. Andy Stanley said it best, “Be the person you’re looking for is looking for.” I’ll find the one who puts God at the center of his life, but only after I do it first.