Throughout my entire life, I have never been in cahoots with God himself. As a matter of fact, my parents never drove me to church every Sunday. The most exposure I ever received as a kid was through my paternal grandmother. She was a strict churchgoing Christian who went to an intimate church in Kansas City, KS. However, as a child, I never understood the definitive characteristics that shaped a church, who Jesus was or what the Bible is used for. I am not sure what my parents’ relationship looked like with God because that was an area of their lives they never shared with me. I am not mad at them. I appreciate them for not pressuring me into studying the Bible and for not dragging me to church three days a week to sit for hours like some of my friends were.
Let’s fast forward to my teen years. I was a wild teen. I was driven by a lot of pressure to fit in. I wanted to be a part of the “in crowd”. I was boy crazy, and I had friends who I probably had no business being around. I craved attention at school. As a result of wanting all eyes to be on me, I loved getting sent out of class because it made me look “tough” to my friends and it was always the conversation over lunch or in the hallway. I got into some fights, not many. I skipped class a lot in middle school and missed some classes to walk around neighborhoods with my friends. I was lost little lamb as a child. As a reflect on some of these moments and the mental space I was in, I ask myself, “how would have things been different had I gotten more exposure to who God is?”
I dislike admitting it, but early adulthood did not look much different for me. As a twenty-year-old, I was still lost. I wrestled around with my identity and still did not possess conviction to accept Jesus as my savior. I spent my early 20s fearful, reckless and insecure. Those were the themes of my life for a while up until I turned twenty-one. In 2017, I experienced breakthrough. I started experiencing an unsolicited shift in my life that I could feel was for the better. When it comes to Jesus and knowing His spirit, you know that you sometimes must be at rock bottom to experience a breakthrough that is miraculous and jolting. I started allowing myself to be changed by His spirit. God became my life instructor after that year.
Since I did not know Christ in 2017, I often felt insecure in my faith. Especially around other Christians. The ones who do not mind flaunting their biblical literacy. It was hard and it was a journey. At one point, my heart was tainted with insecurities. I could not stay consistent with going to church weekly even though I loved my church, I did not always understand the content that was being preached, and I felt like I could not relate to people who I felt had been cleansed of His spirit their whole life. I just was not there yet. So, what did I do? I went on a church hiatus from about May 2018 until August 2019. Peddling backwards and not forward, right?
Wrong. That drought season in my life was NECESSARY. Not only did I experience hardship, but I also experience the beauty of what it is like to not know Jesus but soon find out. I began tapping into what it means and looks like to uphold strong faith. I started submitting myself to my spiritual journey and growth. I also began shedding the idea that religion is what I should be after. I clung to the safety of being invited and openly embraced by Jesus’ spirit, and my spirit start to experience a shift.
Exploring my spirituality and Jesus has become vital to me since my time away from Him and the church. Even today, I would not say I know Jesus and everything about him, but I have since experienced being in His presence and embracing who His spirit has led me to be. I am grateful that I did not get any early exposure to Him as a child because my self-discovery experience would have not looked the same. I am not sure if it would have even been as impactful. I am happy I am a “late bloomer”.
He has crowned me with so much confidence and grace as a result of being open. If you are on a journey of exploring your spirituality and learning what it feels like to honor and discover a higher being, be proud of that despite what age you are. He took you through certain seasons to bring you right here and the space you are in right now means way more than anything you could have wish for yourself.
This is what I tell people: 2017 was drafting season to me: the year God recruited me. 2018 was my testimonial season. 2019 was my year to start living out what The Word says. 2020 is my year to mold myself into a pillar of the community and people around me.
I wish all of the same for you in this season.