Tonight my daughter messaged me, she shared a document with me that she wanted me to proof-read it. As I read it, my heart broke – for her, for me, and for all those who were hurt in the process. My heart broke for all those affected by divorce.
Below I’m going to post my daughter’s testimony, as she shared with me. Her name shall not be posted, though other information is listed in her testimony.
FULL TESTIMONY by “College daughter”
I have gone to church for as long as I can remember. However, in the first 7 years of my life we were not really a Christian household. I heard about Jesus, but I didn’t understand what it meant to live for Him.
When I was 7 my parents divorced. My mom ended up getting remarried and finding a new church. My dad would rarely step foot in a church again.
As I was growing up I heard several times the importance of making a decision to follow Jesus. I wanted to follow Jesus, but I wasn’t really sure how beyond a prayer for salvation, which I prayed several times.
As I grew into a teenager I did start to really strive to follow Jesus, but I was still really unsure. I kept questioning my own salvation, and I still was not sure how to live out my salvation.
Church leaders and youth leaders and everyone else would keep repeating that I needed a relationship with Jesus, but no one would tell me how to live that out.
I would hear basic things like “Have a daily devotional” and “Pray every day” but the Bible was difficult to understand, no one ever taught me how to read it. And I still didn’t really feel a connection with God.
I had moments that I felt close to God, like on mission trips and stuff, but it didn’t feel like a constant, growing relationship.
Despite that, there is no doubt He was working in my life even then. I visited Urban Hope as a sophomore in high school, which was a life changing experience. It was the first time I had really trusted God in a situation when I was afraid.
The next year, the beginning of my junior year of high school my mom and step-dad got divorced. This was really hard on me, partly because I never saw my step=sister again after the day we left, and also because our church did not take it well. It would have been better to realize that it was time for me to let go of the youth group that had become my family over the past 5 years, but I refused. The rest of the church had essentially shunned my whole family, but I could not bring myself to stop going to youth group. Each Wednesday I would search for a ride so I could go, up until my senior year of high school. Finally came a Wednesday that I had to admit that it was over. No one ever called for me from that church after that. It was like I had never went there.
Needless to say, senior year was a struggle. I didn’t really have any church connections, my mom and I went different places, but never really found our home. Plus I was afraid to go back to a church. I would be off to college soon anyway.
Speaking of college, at this point I had no idea what I was doing with my future. Also, my relationship with God was still distant. Even so It seemed God was telling me to go with Grace College. After that though, I was in kind of a strange place. I found it hard to pray, and reading the Bible was so overwhelming. I was so frustrated with myself that I only rarely seemed to experience with God. And I never seemed to have developed much of a relationship with Him.
The summer before I went to college a lot seemed to happen. First, God made it possible for me to go to Grace College.
Second, I felt a very strong need to go back to Urban Hope, and started considering if it would be possible for me to work in the inner city.
Third, I had a huge turning point in my faith, one night I was really frustrated with the stress of moving to college.
I started sobbing and praying, suddenly I could feel God’s presence.It could be considered a moment of rededication, since before that I had felt so distant from God for a long time.
Since then, it seems that each day, my relationship with God grows stronger, which I could not really say about my faith in high school.
Since I started college, the things that God has shown me, taught me, and the ways he has grown me, absolutely blow my mind.
Only God can orchestrate it so that I find my calling at a sporting event I hadn’t planned on going to, when the people behind me were discussing a major I didn’t know my school had (urban ministry)
Only God could push me to talk to an academic advisor or a major that seemed way outside of the status quo.
Only God could have planned it so that a weekend trip to Philadelphia to learn more about said major was only weeks away, and very affordable.
Only God could have used that weekend to convince me that urban ministry is exactly what I need to be doing.
Only God could have done these things because I would have been too scared.
And then it was God who pushed me to add the second major of youth ministry onto what I am studying, which so far has put me in classes with some amazing people. Which also caused me to consider my past experiences with youth ministry, and what I think it should be. I believe it should be a way to lead the next generation, to teach them what it means to follow Jesus. To teach them Biblical applications for their everyday lives, and help them through the battles of life.
Only God will know what my future holds, but as long as it is in His hands, I am excited for the future.
I admit – I have made my share of mistakes. I am aware of that. Reading this testimony has made me aware that I need to make some changes. I need to be sure that I am equipping the people around me. It has made me aware that I need to be that others see Christ in me. That I tell them how to know Christ, how to grow closer to Him, how to walk with Him.
I don’t want to be a person who is hypocritical. I don’t want to be mean spirited. I want others to see the light in me, to know I’m different…so I must be aware. I must be vigilant, I must keep my own relationship with Christ good. I must grow that relationship daily.
A relationship with Christ is like a marriage. In a marriage, you have two people who have committed themselves to each other. They have a personal relationship. There is sacrifice to make it work. Christianity is much the same way. You have a relationship with Christ. He made a sacrifice for me, while I was still a sinner. I am unworthy, but still…He died for me. I make mistakes, I sin – yet He still died willingly. And I have a personal relationship with Him. I spend time getting to know Him by prayer and spending time in His Word, the Bible.
My daughter’s testimony is heartbreaking. Two divorces, being shunned by her youth group and church, a bad relationship with her dad, never seeing her sister (from the day we left her step-dad)…many teens would have rebelled. They would have made bad decisions. Instead, my daughter internalized her relationship with Christ. She kept going, making an attempt, but never gave up. She didn’t use her past as an excuse – but rather is now using it as her testimony.
I will be the first to admit – I know this is Christ working in my daughter, because she is a quiet person. She is an introvert. And she hates the city. But her heart changed during the first visit to Urban Hope. And it’s like when she left there, she left a small piece of her heart -and I knew she would be going back. A year later she did. And then she found Grace College, a place that seemed so far out of our league (it’s her and I financing this beast called college…her dad contributes nothing, not even child support). Now, my daughter is not the same person she was two years ago. She has been transformed. She is no longer the quiet person she was. She no longer cowers at the thought of speaking. She now loves the big city and thrives in the city. #Transformation.
Why does the church treat divorced people treated like they have a terrible disease? Like they have a scarlet letter that they bear? People who were once your friends now avoid you. Why?! Are they so afraid of choosing sides that they simply abandon you?
This is something we should think about. If you claim Christ – examine yourself. We are called to examine ourselves. Be sure you exhibit the fruits of the spirit. Be sure you are exhibiting the conduct that Christ commands.
God can work wonders if we just give Him the chance.