God is always faithful!
I was raised in a Christian home. I went to church most Sundays with my grandparents and loved it. To this day, I have so many fond memories of Sunday School, VBS, and the friends I made at church. However, I was never really able to grasp the importance of having a relationship with God. As I got older and moved into high school, my priorities shifted from going to church on Sundays to working and being involved in my extracurricular activities. During this time, I ventured further from the values I had been raised in and started to veer off the path God had for me.
By the time I went to college at The University of Iowa, God was the last thing on my mind. After lots of homesickness and a difficult break up with my high school boyfriend, I was relieved when Thanksgiving break came around. My grandparents invited me to go to church with them and I accepted. That day God changed my life forever. The pastor shared that "God is always faithful." In that very pew, I broke down in tears. It was so hard for me to believe that after wandering so far from His truth that my father in heaven was still pursuing me and still wanted a relationship with me. After returning to school, I reached out to a girl who had been pursuing me and asked to learn more about a campus ministry she had been telling me about. I got involved with a bible study, connected with a community of friends that told me more about God, and finally started to pursue a relationship with God.
Over time, I got more involved with the ministry and became a leader. I went on summer mission in Milwaukee and God grew my passion for Him in great ways. I got connected with a church that welcomed me in with open arms and was able to start getting to know people there as well. Things started to take a turn my junior year when I went through some very difficult mental health struggles. I had filled my plate so full and had gotten so involved in so many things that I started to shut down. My academics were suffering gravely and I started to distance myself from the friends I made in the campus ministry.
At this point, my relationship with God was rooted in that campus ministry and I hadn't made it my own yet. With that said, it was difficult to pursue that relationship with God, when I didn't really know what that looked like without the structure and accountability of a community. It was during this dark time that I started to invest more at my new church, The River. I started working as The Director of Children's Ministry, leading the Kids program. That gave me a direct line to support from the pastor and the worship leader at the time and more connections started to grow. I got involved in a small group, led a couple missions trip, and really started to get to know the other people at the church through events at the church.
Now, I can honestly say that The River has helped me to make my relationship with God my own. It is where I met my now husband and the greatest accountability partner. I have many mentors and have a group of friends who help point me towards Christ in some of the most difficult circumstances. I can see God through the interactions and growth at the church. From the sermon many years ago to finding my home church, the sermon message that brought me to my knees has remained true. In all of the ups and downs, I know God is always faithful.