This has been in my drafts since April and I feel like it is finally time to share this with you.
The whole purpose of this blog was me Finding God’s Grace in the struggles. Well, I’ve been struggling some over the past couple of months and I think I might have just found that Grace I keep going on about. The enemy may have tried at taking me but he will never have the victory he may try to declare over my life.
I can remember the experiences I had at church as a child. I was, and still am, a worshiper; it’s always been a part of me and I believe that, along with God’s purpose, is why I am still here today. I remember standing with my best friend at the time when we were eight years old, dancing and singing before the Lord with smiling faces. We didn’t fully understand how happy we were making our Father but the joy we had was so pure that I believe that He was oh-so proud of his daughters.
From the age of seven to about thirteen I went to church fatherless. There once was a time when my father, a true man of God who has a deep passion for what God called him to do, left the church. He stepped away from the place where his parents taught him to serve the church and men/women of God in his life. There once was a time when my mother, now the children’s minister, wasn’t going to church due to the fact that her husband wasn’t and was too tired to get up in the morning. There once was a time when I would get up every Sunday and ride with my grandparents to and from church, stopping for an Icee and a Twix after evening service and going home to my parents who had once experienced the same joy I was experiencing. This hurt me, deeper than I knew at the time. I can remember standing in my parents room, crying and begging them to come back to church. Not having the average southern family aspect of going to church every Sunday was something that struck me from a young age, but I didn’t realize that for my work to be done, I needed this pain…(But we’ll get to that later.)
There once was a time where my best friends in the church left. One by one, them and their families stopped coming to services and therefore taking my cherished friends with them. People moved, they found something more “current”, something that made them feel “good”, they left something so great behind. Sometimes I felt like screaming to them, “NO! STOP! You’re making a mistake. Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go!”, but I was only a child, and age means everything in an adult’s mind.
I was very involved in my church as I grew up, I worked in many different ministry’s that would affect what God would call me to be in His Kingdom. I worked in Children’s, Music, and Youth ministry’s around my church and settled my heart deeply into the Kingdom. I followed the doctrine, I followed the standard, and I lived happily and purely. Life seemed too good to be true when my parents began coming back into church and digging themselves into their calling and ministry’s. I remember crying the first time I saw my dad raise his hands in worship and I remember when heard my mother speak in tongues as she wrapped her arms around me and my sister. I was ecstatic…Then I got into high school.
Freshman year I dug myself into on campus ministry’s and challenged myself in the Kingdom. I became part of my state’s worship choir and a drama team for the Louisiana district’s Kids Kamp. I would attend NAYC, a youth congress for the UPCI youth in OKC, with my youth group. I met people who loved God and our organization just like I do, these people are my life time friends who I love and cherish and will be by my side though the thick and thin that would be coming very soon. I met mentors, people who would shape me and my ministry’s, women and men of God who I look up to dearly.
Sophomore year went by with a few bumps and bruises. I became lenient with my relationship with God and often left it to the side as I began to make more friends that would ultimately lead me down roads of destruction and chaos. In this year, I lost my best friends in the church and was outcasted by my youth group. This led to a year of hurt and pain and confusion that I was endlessly trying to dig myself out of. And how I dug was with the things of the world, to fill those empty wholes I felt from slowly pulling myself away from the church. I kept getting closer and closer to what the enemy wanted for me and farther away from what God wanted for me. I kept putting off my relationship with God till “camp season” the time in summer where all the church camps were put on, leaving a whole nine months of doing whatever I wanted on the weekdays and living deeply for God on Sunday’s to keep up the “platform” image.
After a summer of camps and travel, I decided that I was going to live for God with everything that I had in my body. I was going to live with the standards and doctrines I had grown up in…Until junior year hit…
There once was a time where I wanted to drink alcohol, as some would say, I was “flirting with the world”. There once was a time where I didn’t have Godly friends pushing me to be a better Christian, they were actually pushing me in the opposite direction. I dressed like everyone wanted me to dress, I spoke how everyone wanted me to speak. I even took a step to becoming the Christian that everyone wanted to see out of me. I was turning into a robot for the world, like a vending machine that would spit out what someone wanted from me. There once was a time where I was two different people; one Kelly went to church and one Kelly went to the world. There once was a time where I gave up on my calling. I knew that if I just gave my all to God, everything would fall into place, but I kept putting off the relationship because I knew summer was coming.
Even with summer fast approaching, the enemy still was trying to get me to finally call it quits. The conviction that was in me was unsettling and the feelings I had about what I had been doing for the past year and a half were changing. I would end up losing my school friends, even though I was doing everything in my power to keep them. I would end up slowly gaining back my church friends, and my youth group began taking me back in. Even with the enemy trying to fight me with my worldly life, my life with God was seeming to start to take back over.
There once was a time…And then there wasn’t.
I was back. A youth event for the Louisiana Youth set me back on my feet. I realized that I didn’t need anyone else but me to get right with God, and He knew I only needed my strong-willed self to get through this valley. We all go through dry seasons, and without this one I wouldn’t have what I have now. I feel stronger in God. I feel hopeful for the future. And most importantly, I feel overwhelming peace that is so, so calming.
I don’t know why God decided to keep my family. I don’t know why, when my mother asked my father if he wanted to attend other churches, he replied with “If I’m not going to my church, then why go?”. I have no idea why after six years of riding with my grandparents to church, one day, my dad decide it was time to come back. I have no idea why God placed my parents in the positions He’s placed them in, and I have no idea what his purpose is for my family. I don’t know why God kept me, even after all the sins I committed. I don’t know why I’ve made it this far in life, it’s been a pretty rough two years for me and there have been times where I didn’t know if I could keep going. But, I do know that the simple answer behind all these “I don’t know”s is God’s unbelievable Grace.
When I was just two weeks shy of being sixteen, my youth pastor asked me to put together a small five-minute message on anything I wanted. So I spoke on God’s Grace and called it “Grace: The Unspeakable Gift”. Now for a fifteen year old it was a great message, but as I look back a couple of years later, I notice that I wasn’t fully capable of talking on such this subject. I wouldn’t be able to do that message justice for another couple of months, when I really learned of God’s true and unspeakable grace. I don’t think I’d be able to do it, even after a few months. But, two years later, when I was seventeen and had learned of true loneliness, that’s when I would be able to talk about what God’s Grace can do for someone.
I had lost everything. My friends, my voice, even my feelings were gone, and then my spiritual drought would begin. My spiritual drought took everything after me, and it began once I stepped back into my high school for my Junior year. I began saying things that Christians, nonetheless ladies, should NEVER say. And I felt terrible, a spirit of depression began sneaking into me because of the conviction I felt every Sunday when I walked into church. The conviction should have turned me around but… It didn’t. And now I know why…God was getting ready to teach me a lesson on patience, vulnerability, and a lesson on losing myself and finding Him through the chaos.
This is my testimony of His great love keeping me. I don’t know why, but I’m grateful.
“…Not my will, but Yours be done…”