I love hearing people’s stories! I recently met a bouncy energy filled girl with THEE biggest smile ever! Her name is Madeline and her story is amazing!
I was raised going to catholic church every sunday, going to religious ed classes weekly, praying before dinner, and thanking god at the end of every day. I was baptized, made my first communion and my confirmation, but if somebody would have asked me who Jesus Christ was my answer would have been something along the lines of “A guy who died on a cross” I would not have known who this man was on a personal level.
I was taught by my parents that i was supposed to be kind to others and be a good person, and if i did that i was on my way to heaven. I grew up with the mentality that going to church was enough to get there, even though I didn’t get anything out of it and even though i dreaded stepping foot in the doors, it was just something I was “supposed to do.”
When I was 14 years old my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. This violently shook my families lives, as my mom had surgery, started chemo and radiation treatments I started to actually try and listen to the messages at church, I would pray and plead with God to cure my mom, But nothing worked. As my mom’s health decreased, my faith in god went with it, I remember sitting in my moms hospital room, watching her die before my very eyes and saying “If I feel God here that will make this okay.” And as she took her last breath i waited, I waited to feel this amazing peace over me, I waited for a sign from the lord telling me she was okay and I got nothing.
God took my mom and my very best friend, how could i believe in a man who was supposed to be so great, but did such terrible things… that was it, it was all over for me… Or so I thought. I went through my sophomore year of high school still going to the church my family attended, only when my dad forced me to go. And when he made me I would sit there holding whatever book I was reading at the time up behind the hymn book. Needless to say I was still getting nothing out of the messages.
As high school progressed I was finding myself further and further away from anything that had to do with God. I blatantly would tell my friends I didn’t believe in a god who would take my mom away. I bashed and made fun of people who lived for god, because i didn’t know what that even meant. I remember getting in so many arguments with Christian people because I was just to ignorant. I was blind to something so great in front of me.
When I was a junior my brother Matthew started attending church with one of my best guy friends, and soon enough Matthew would come home talking about all his friends from church, reading his bible and posting “Jesus stuff” all over his facebook. I remember looking at him and telling him how much he had changed and how weird it was, I was mean to him, because I didn’t understand. I didn’t even stick up for Him when my friends would say things about his changing behavior.
During this same year one of my really good friends Kendal died of leukemia. Again I was so mad at the lord and even though i hadn’t been faithful to him i was questioning his decisions to take away all the people i loved. As high school progressed the emptier i felt, I had been dealing with anxiety and mild depression since my moms death and none of the medicine really worked. I didn’t know where to turn. I started going out to parties with my friends, and trying to fill myself with materialistic things that left me even more empty in the end.
Now don’t get me wrong i was still a “really good girl”, and I thought i was living for the right things… but i was always searching for more.
Around august I was up north when i received a text from a friend who I hadn’t talked to in a really long time. She told me she had a feeling she needed to hang out with me and it had been on her mind for the past 2 weeks. When I got home from vacation we planned a night and she came over to the house where I was house sitting at. We sat on the couch for hours and just talked, Out of no where I told her how empty i was inside, i told her how i had been trying to fill it up with so many different things and nothing worked. Then I said I thought i needed to find a relationship with god. I professed how broken i was and how much i needed something to come into my life and completely change it around. Jill told me she would help me, she would teach me things and that god wanted to have a relationship with me! Falling asleep that night i remember thinking that she might be saying that now, but will it actually happen?
The next day jill told me to pray. I was driving home from my friends, watching the sunset and i started talking to God. In the midst of my words i found tears uncontrollably falling down my face. But I wasn’t sad, i was filled with happiness and I knew that this was the beginning of something.
The next night i went home and asked my dad where i could get a good bible like he bought my brother, he told me what store to buy one from and then walked away. 5 minutes later he walked downstairs carrying a box with a brand new bible in it. He told me he knew i would need it and he was just waiting until i was ready to learn more about God and my faith.
For the next two weeks jill would sit with me and we would dive into scripture, something I had never been taught to do. I learned that God had so many things he wanted to tell me, but most importantly was God wanted me! He wanted a relationship with me so badly that he sent his son, Jesus, to die for ME, just so all of my horrible sins would be taken away. I was completely mind blown. I could feel god working in me, things were changing inside. I started looking at the big picture of life, and tried to see god in everything i did.
I remember the first time I attended Ore Creek church, i was again blown away by how much i was enjoying it, it wasn’t boring and i was completely focused throughout the whole service. Through a series of events I came to the conclusion that my mom had to of had something to do with this too, and that her and God were orchestrating this beautiful thing together so it worked so perfectly into my life.
I started going to a young adults bible study, where we would laugh and talk and have so much fun, and then we would go into the bible and tear each verse apart so we could see what god was trying to tell us. I had never seen anything like it, i was surrounded by such wonderful, intelligent, godly people, I only hoped that someday i could get to their level.
One tuesday I went to a young adults group called momentum at cornerstone church. My whole body was filled with goose bumps, from the very first worship song, to the end when all of our heads were bowed and we were praying, and the pastor asked if there was anyone in the room who wanted to put all their trust in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, and start living for god. and immediately my arm shot up. Jill was on one side of me and another friend on the other, they grabbed me and started sobbing. I didn’t understand why they were crying… this is a good thing not a bad thing, right? I was so happy i couldn’t control it. My smile was as big as it ever had been and there was not a worry or bad thought in my whole body. After the service i went into the office with the pastor, we held hands and prayed and i officially welcomed jesus into my heart, and i started living for god.
That peace i had been wanting to feel in my body when my mom died was now ever present. I had never been as happy as i was now. It was like i was high on my love for jesus, i couldn’t get enough. All I would want to do was read my bible and find out more about this amazing god, listen to christian music and hang out with other God loving people. My family noticed the change in my behavior and attitude and they were so happy for me, most of my friends felt the same way.
I never thought that anything could effect the joy i was feeling, but then i learned that the disapproval from people who mean so much to you, can really tear you down and test your faith. Some of my friends told me I was being a hypocrite, that i wasn’t the same person anymore, and that it was hard to be my friend. this confused me because i saw my change as the best thing that had ever happened to me, how did they not see that? i knew why they called me a hypocrite, because i had always shunned religion… No one could see that you can change from the person you were, and become new through jesus. These things people told me really tore me down, I cried and cried, but the sadder i became, the closer God was to me. Through it, God and my relationship had become stronger. I learned that in reality i don’t need anything or anyone because i will always have him. To be my friend, to love me, and to support me, he taught me i don’t have to feel sad that people don’t accept the way I Live. God taught me to stop being mad at these people, but to pray for them and love them even more, because they are blind to the way I am now, just like i once was.
After I was saved I learned that for years people had been praying for me to find my faith and the lord, I was awestruck that it actually happened. Then I realized that many of my Christian friends had tried over the years to help me, and that god had always been trying to reel me in. I started getting into really deep discussions with so many different christians talking about god, it was so cool. There were people out there who didn’t have to party or swear or hook up with guys to be happy, they were happy and full enough because of god. I could now say that I was on my way to becoming one of them.
This fall I started attending western michigan university… as you can imagine It’s hard to stay on the right track here. But I got involved with a student ministry on campus called Cru formally known as campus crusade. I’ve met some amazing people and formed friendships that are souley based on god. I also attended a retreat at a bible camp where I was again overwhelmed by the love God has for us. Since going to college my relationship with god has become so much more intense and stronger, He’s teaching me so much each day and I believe he is working through me to give me the ability to go out and change peoples hearts. I have even had the privilege to witness to students on campus, which was a crazy and nerve racking experience, but i remembered that Jesus died on the cross for me, is spreading his word really that scary? He’s helping me teach some of my friends about Jesus, and i’ve even had the privlelege to watch two of my new friends place their faith in christ. I am surrounded by strong christian people when i’m at school and at home, I know god put them in my life to help me become closer to him.
The sadness and confusion i had about my moms death have gone away. I still miss her everyday but i know that God allowed her to die so that he can work in and through me to help other people. My anxieties and depression disappeared because with god there is not sadness and there is nothing to be anxious about, he has it all under control.
I am not here to tell you my life story, because it’s not my life, it gods. I’m standing here today as living proof of how jesus’s love and grace can change a person completely around. My life went from being empty to full, I was broken but I am now put back together, I went from not having any sort of purpose, to knowing exactly what i’m supposed to do, and that is to spread jesus word and love to people who don’t know it. To share with my friends and the world, that Jesus died to take away every terrible thing you have ever done just because he loves you so!! God wants to tell everyone that you can change, even if you think you’re to far gone, god wants you, he wants to have a personal relationship with you,all you have to do is put your trust in Christ and what he did for you on the cross, and in that alone. I started living for the things god intended us to all live for. I’m not perfect, I struggle and I sin. But I am a child of god and I can’t wait to spend eternity worshiping him.