i have 30 days until i celebrate my 30th year of life. i thought i would share with you 30 people, events and situations that have shaped my life and who i want to be. it has been very challenging to come up with 30…i hope it inspires you as it has me. this part of the list is in no particular order.
day 24: grace evangelical church
i grew up going to church every sunday – we never missed, even when we were traveling (do you know how awkward it is as a kid to go into a sunday school class where you don’t know anyone?). and, i loved the church we were going to when i was in seventh grade. even as a little 12-year-old, the older kids in the youth group loved me and welcomed me, allowing me to hang out with them and taking me home from youth group events.
but, for reasons i didn’t understand at the time, we left that church at the end of seventh grade. the church we started attending was large. and the youth group was clique-ish. and i had a tough time finding a place to belong. several times i felt shunned. and rejected. those are tough emotions anytime, but especially as a teen.
before long, i didn’t want anything to do with church. or God. i faked being sick so i didn’t have to go to youth group. my parents never forced me to go (that i remember). but, it was a rough three years.
when we finally left that church at the end of my sophomore year (because i wasn’t doing well, among other things), we began attending grace evangelical church. from the moment we walked through the double doors of the church built into the hill, i felt loved. jennifer greeted me as though we’d known each other for years. i was immediately adopted into the small youth group. i found adults like jo and barb and bryan who loved me and poured into me.
it was at grace that jennifer taught me to pray, by “making” me pray out loud. it was at grace that i began to realize that a relationship with Christ was more than just understanding and knowing bible storied. it was at grace that i first found true love and acceptance outside of my family.
and, it was at grace three years later that i finally began to notice a skinny runner sitting in the back of the room.