Just over a year ago, I made a radical decision.
It was something no one expected of me, something that to most people seemed foolish, crazy and definitely temporary. I did something completely unheard of these days. I gave up the security of a full time job, family I loved and friends I grew up with. I took a huge step of faith and moved to Kingston to answer the call of God in my life.
But where was I before that? What brought me to that point in life?
I grew up as a church kid in an extremely conservative, Mennonite community. I remember spending my really young years in Mennonite churches. My parent’s were youth leaders when I was young and I remember spending a lot of time hanging out with youth. I just really loved being around them and seeing my parent’s minister to them.
Eventually as my brother and I got a little older, it seemed that they were not satisfied with conservative religion that they were raised in. I remember in the early 90’s going to these Catch the Fire conferences. Seeing people get delivered, radical praising and freedom like no other. I can remember countless people having to be carried out of the gymnasiums under the power of God, unable to fully walk on their own.
We were radical for Jesus.
My parents, along with a few others, ended up starting a church in our basement that was part of the Vineyard church movement. We were radical for Jesus, unlike any church in Winkler. I remember even as a young kid knowing that there were rumours being spread about our church. That’s where I spent my childhood and teenage high school years.
On the outside, we were a radical Christian family, but on the inside, we faced warfare like no other. In 1993, my Grandma died of cancer and my grandpa lived the remainder of his life in a deep depression from missing her. He was always in and out of the hospital due to falls and not taking care of himself and his diabetes. A few years after he passed, I lost an aunt due to MS. Amidst all that, my parents spent a year having marriage problems and I remember waking up and night, hearing them fight and being terrified of divorce. All this while being elders in the church they helped plant in our basement.
Entering high school was hard. I was firm in my beliefs. I didn’t believe drinking was for me and I stayed out of trouble. I surrounded myself with good friends and weekly-attended church and youth group. Our youth group would go to youth revival services in Winnipeg whenever they were around. Those were so impactful. Sometime during probably 9th grade, our youth leaders left the church. No explanation, no warning, no notice. Our youth had nowhere to turn. After high school I was trying to find a youth group or a place to settle in. A place that was radical for Jesus like mine was, but I felt like I was always searching and could never find. When I graduated from high school, I moved from Winkler to Winnipeg to attend college. While living there I no longer tried to find a place in a church where I felt I fit in.
I felt abandoned. I felt fearful that I would be rejected again.
I attended college right after graduation, only to drop out a year later and move back home. When I moved home, I started hanging out with a crowd and started to drink. We would probably go out to the bar at least once a month and get so drunk. I also started smoking and getting promiscuous.
I began fear that nothing or no one would ever stay and care about me.
In the winter of 2007, I lost another grandparent in a car accident. It was shocking and unexpected. I was losing everything. I began to fear that nothing or no one would ever stay and care about me. I moved back to Winnipeg in the new year of 2008 and tried to give school another try. I lasted a few months and once again, dropped out. This time, I stayed in the school, working temporary job after temporary job. Spending my weekends getting drunk and partying and meeting guys. I ended up finding a job in the fall of 2008 and loved it. Life was finally starting to come together or so I thought. I had more money to go out drinking, and starting meeting a lot of guys at work who I would drink with. They would buy me drinks and cigarettes to basically see me make a fool of myself at their parties. They would try to hit on me. Sometimes I would let them, because I was finally feeling accepted. Married or single, it didn’t matter to me. They “took care” of me.
Morally, I knew it was wrong. I was convicted to a degree, but also starting believing that God didn’t care what I did, that because I had been saved as a kid, that I was still saved. I would meet guys online because I was desperate to be accepted and wanted to be married. I lived this way basically for the next 5 years. I was so unhappy with myself that I just ate my pain away. I would eat and eat and eat. I gained a ton of weight.
I was tired of being alone.
At the end of 2012, I knew something had to be done. I went on a diet and went from 230 pounds to 210 pounds. I started hungering for God again. I found a church, which I tried to get involved in. I was tired of being alone. By new year 2013, I had no idea what was going to happen, but I quit my heavy drinking and partying and stopped having sex.
I decided to volunteer at a camp I had attended as a child. I didn’t know what to expect and ended up not even being able to go the week I really wanted to go, but decided to go anyways. The week I was there, the guest speaker was a man named Pastor Francis Armstrong. My life was forever changed this week, it seemed like each night I was called out and prayed for and prophesied over. I got invited to join the Esther house – a program for young adult girls to help them walk in their purpose. I realized it was something I needed to do. In less than a month, I agreed.
Never The Same
I moved to Kingston an my life has never been the same since. God has taken me from death into life all because I obeyed his voice. I’ve gone through healing, met an amazing church family and I’ve found my home. Even though I am still not married, I’ve started to find my love in Jesus, realizing that at the right time, He will take care of all that too! One of the first words God spoke to me after I moved here was that I needed to focus on helping girls. I am serving as a youth leader, my passion and desire is to see a generation of young girls who don’t have to suffer the way I did. Girls who are radical and free! I want to be that leader for them, that role model! I want them to see their true value before it’s taken away. God has placed me exactly where He wanted me, and I am so blessed.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:14