Happy Tuesday sweet friends. I took a bit of a hiatus this summer from the blog. I didn’t really mean to. However, it was much needed. I’ll explain more in a post later this week, but for now – I want to share with you my friend Jenny’s testimony. I am grateful for her grace and patience – she wrote this back in MAY! God has blessed me an amazing woman to call my friend and I’m excited to be able to share her testimony with you today.
When I told Emily I would be willing to share my story, I warned her that it isn’t anything spectacular, though! I hesitated to even share it because I did not have a big story to share. I think sometimes, myself included, seek out Earth-shattering, life-changing events as reference points for when we grow or change. A death in the family, a graduation, getting married, having a child, etc. These are all BIG stories that change us, and yes, these did change me. However, for me, my testimony of faith has been found in the most mundane, routine moments of my life, and that is probably why I’ve never thought to share my story before.
I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church on Sunday, and I went to a youth group Wednesday evenings. Some of my fondest memories are learning to read during a church service, when my dad would attempt to challenge me with hard words out of the readings for the day. “Leviti….Levitic….Leviticus,” I’d whisper out in victory before he’d point to the next word. We said prayers before meals and prayers before bed at night. I am so thankful for my parents and the Christian upbringing they gave my sister and I.
I can also confidently say that I’ve always believed in God and put my trust in Jesus. Sure, I had questions about it growing up. I couldn’t wrap my head around what the Crucifixion and Resurrection meant for me. I couldn’t wrap my head around a lot of things, but I figured I’d get answers along the way.
Here, though, is where I reference back to these mundane moments in my life. See, while I claimed I was a “Christian,” and I believed in Jesus, a lot of my day-to-day life choices and actions did not demonstrate that.
This really came to light when I left home to go to college. Growing up, my parents had pretty strict rules. I had a curfew that I had to abide by (even though I broke it sometimes…sorry, Mom)! There were consequences for our actions if we broke one of their “rules.” However, for the most part, I was a good kid. I had a good group of friends. We didn’t drink or smoke. I got A’s in school. I was president of the student council, I participated in choir, and I played sports. I’m pretty sure the most rebellious thing I ever did was tee-pee a friends house. I attribute this mostly to my parents and my upbringing.
Then I went to the University of Iowa as an 18 year old, and suddenly, I did not have a curfew. I was a good student and a good person…compared to everyone else. Sure, I played a game of flip cup every now and then, but I was still a good person…compared to what some other people were doing there. I figured I could break a rule and then ask for forgiveness and go on with my life. I’d break the rule again, ask for forgiveness, and I’d move on. It was a never ending cycle! I figured I was doing okay, though, because I was comparing myself to everyone else. Surely, I thought, God wouldn’t send me to Hell if I broke just a few of His commandments over and over and asked for forgiveness each time. However, one day, after listening to a Homily in church, I realized that God is a just and fair God. If I break a rule, there has to be a consequence. That is only fair.
It was then I realized the role Jesus had in all this. It was like I was standing in a courtroom, being given a fine for $100,000 for something I did, and Jesus walks in and says, “I am going to pay this on behalf of Jen.” The Crucifixion and Resurrection suddenly made a lot more sense to me. I started wrapping my head around it all. This realization was only exemplified after I had my first child and I realized that I would do anything…ANYTHING…out of the love I had for my son. I discovered that it must be similar to the love God and Jesus had for me…to be willing to do that for me. To this day, it breaks me every time I think about it.
After I began to understand the Gospel message, I began to actively try to act out what it means to be a Christian in the most mundane moments of my life. I tried to stop being envious over what my friends had. I tried to show love to my neighbor, despite who they were or their different beliefs they had. The more I focused on the small, mundane moments of my life…going on a walk…getting coffee with a friend…going to the grocery store…the more I understood what it means to walk a Christian walk. My life dramatically changed when I made that realization and started acting in line with that thinking.
Yes, BIG events have changed me. The death of grandparents…my wedding…getting my first teaching job…having my children..having a very sick child….dealing with extreme postpartum depression…leaving my job to stay home…going back to teaching…all of these events have dramatically changed me. Some of them have tested my faith…all of them have resulted in my faith growing stronger.
But where my testimony really lies is in the most mundane, day-to-day moments. How I handle a conflict between my two toddlers. How I greet the cashier at the grocery store. How I ask for forgiveness from my husband. How I step into my classroom each day. The decisions I make in regards to what to cook for dinner each night. ALL of this can and should be done out of God’s love. I’ve discovered that in these mundane moments, I have an incredible opportunity to reflect on God’s love and show that to other people.
It has also been in these everyday moments that I have seen God’s love more than ever. It is a friend showing up with dinner after a child is born. It is my three year old giving me a hug for no reason at all. It is my husband unloading the dishwasher when I didn’t ask him to. It is a phone call from a friend I’ve missed. It is Emily Brown herself offering to watch my kids, without hesitation, when I was in desperate need of daycare help. These small moments really demonstrate to me that God is everywhere, all the time–not just in the BIG moments of my life.
Yes, I still mess up in my walk…frequently. The difference now, though, is that I know it isn’t a cycle of messing up and asking for forgiveness. Now, I ask for forgiveness with the whole-hearted truth of not wanting to mess up again…how could I when I know the price Jesus was willing to pay for my sin? And I guess that’s my testimony…that in the small everyday moments of my life, Jesus presents Himself, and I am given opportunities to show that love to others.