Everyone has a story.

A beginning.

This is mine.

{written 2007}

I grew up going to church, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School. I enjoyed all of these things and believed I had a relationship with Christ because of them. Through high-school, while other friends were partying and drinking, I prided myself that I didn't do any of those things. Again, I believed that I was living a Godly life and had that relationship that everyone always spoke of inside the church. I had no idea how truly wrong I was. In 2004, the bubble I had placed myself in began to develop some holes. The first was when a good friend of mine had to be sent away to a school in New York due to a drinking and drug problem that his parents believed he had. It was the first big blow to my otherwise picturesque world. The next life changing event was leaving the home I had always known to go to school at Appalachian State University. Up until that point, I had believed that I was mature and that I wouldn't be one of those kids that went crazy once they were away from home. I was wrong. In more ways then I could have ever imagined.

My freshmen year roommate {and two other years of school} was my best friend from high-school. She was truly an angel that God sent to me; she never left my side and loved me despite all the ways I messed up that first semester. Much of my first semester is a blur due to excessive drinking on the weekends. But the funny thing about that is that I was still trying to do campus ministries and believing I was living a Godly life. There was no reason for my drinking that was obvious to me; I was just doing it to do it. Then on December 11, 2004, my life changed forever and my bubble was burst. One of my best friends passed away in his sleep. Seventeen years old, healthy, and no outward signs of why. All of a sudden everything I thought I had known had vanished. What I knew of God didn't matter. I was physically hurting from my heartbreak and all I wanted was to feel NOTHING. No amount of people telling me that they'd pray for me or telling me that he was in a better place helped. At all. All I knew is that I wanted to be in the place that he was. And on December 30th, I consumed more alcohol then I ever had and ever would again. And as I laid there in my stupor, I prayed {yes, prayed} that God would take me from this place. Obviously, He did not. And in the coming weeks, months and years, He gently reminded me of who He is and whose I am. The pain was still there, but God's love was real to me for the first time. Up until then, all I had was a head knowledge and I now finally started grasping the abundance of His grace and mercy.

Since the night of December 30, 2004, I have never treated my body in such a way. God's mercies, grace and love are revealed to me each and everyday. Over the last five years, my faith and trust have grown in ways I cannot articulate. I know I am not where I should be, but I am not where I once was. I have never meant more than the prayer I prayed that night, but praise God for the prayers that He doesn't answer. But I believe that He has me here for a reason. And my desires to reach the unreached has grown exponentially. I would love the opportunity to share how God's love and grace overcomes even the darkest moments and times.
When I wrote this, it was the first time I had written my testimony completely out. There are things I could add, but I won't. And there is nothing that I would change about the events that brought me to where I am today. I sometimes wish that I wouldn't have made things so difficult on myself, but God uses trials and hardships as a way to learn and to grow. I am blessed beyond belief, but I did not get here alone.

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Andrea said...

beautiful love story....God's love story! Thank you for sharing (on paper, we already have talked about this in person)!!!!! LOVE you!

Rachel said...

MJ, thank you for sharing your story. I am from Charlotte NC so there's an immediate connection for me when I read your blog. Of course our greatest connection is that we are sinners saved by His grace. I am proud of you for sharing this and for your life change that can only come through Christ. He is SO good to us. I hope you are not ashamed of this part of your life as it has been a huge encouragement to me =)Oh and alot of my friends went to AppState. I wouldn't be surprised if we know the same ppl.

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