Growing up I was raised in a household with Christian values but we weren’t deeply ingrained in the Christian faith. We weren’t the going to church every Sunday, prayer meeting on Wednesday and vigil family. However, my parents really made us know that a personal relationship with God was key and He was important in our lives. They also really talked to us about false teachings and how the bible was (and is still being used to this day) to put people in bondage and not liberate them. This theme stuck with me and going to a Christian secondary school I started to see God as someone who was very rule-based and strict. Do not get me wrong I knew He was there but I just thought his standard on how I should live my life was unattainable and I could never pray like I should, obey him like I should and live my life like I should. In my secondary school, there were a lot of rules and I was consistently told I should not do stuff because God wouldn’t like that (without telling me the reason why). This once again reinforced the idea in my head that I could never be what he wanted me to be and I shouldn’t bother trying. I never got that I could have a very personal relationship with God which was not based on my perfection.
It took being in university and being faced with who I really was and hating that person to feel the love of God. It took two years of trying at this relationship thing and a lot of failures (still ongoing, to be honest) to see God for what he really was. He is a loving God who is not concerned with religion but with a relationship. He legitimately wants to know us and be there for us. He also wants to change us and have us live a beautiful life. Essentially my mind was blown. However, one thing I struggle with and I believe a lot of new believers struggle with is comparisons. Without God, in my life, I compare myself a lot with people and have been used to measuring my progress in life based on other people. Initially when I started this walk with God comparing really held me back from completely knowing him because when I would interact with people who had been in a relationship with him longer I would feel intimidated rather than challenged. I never saw that I could do better and once again the defeatist attitude swept back in. I couldn’t stick to the church I gave my life to Christ in and resumed being passive about my faith in Christ. I was once again drifting from God. It took positive influences in my life and a decision to change churches to kind of get back on track.
The one thing that changed everything for me was that after experiencing God’s love and seeing his redeeming power in my life how could I go back to darkness. It was (and is still) hard admitting that I have failed and made mistakes but nothing is worth risking that feeling of peace in my heart, even my hurt pride. The thing I would say to any new Christian is that your journey is tailored to you. God knew you before you were born so he has taken into considerations all your shortcomings and knows all your deficiencies and loves you still. The bible although filled with the most inspirational stories and amazing things that have ever happened in the world is also filled with broken men and women who God has used despite their brokenness. The Christian faith journey is one of the most exhilarating and challenging things ever but it is also one of the most fulfilling things I have ever experienced. It forces you to acknowledge that nothing good or bad that happens in our life is controlled by us but by our God who fills us with his peace and joy in all situations.