I can almost count the Sundays in my life where I wasn't at church. My parents made it a priority in our home, and because of their example of faith along with the influence of our church and the school I attended, I can't remember a time when I didn't know about Jesus I was baptized when I was 7, but I had accepted Jesus into my heart a few times before that... and would a few more times after. My story isn't one of instant transformation, as few are, but of God placing specific people and experiences into my life to draw me closer to Him and teach me to walk with Him.
In fifth grade, I had a teacher who was so full of joy. It wasn't the first time I'd met someone like that, but this time my eyes were open. I knew it was Jesus that made her the way she was, but I wasn't sure how that kind of relationship became mine. Over a decade later, I know God's work in my life is slow, that He teaches me over a long period of time. Anne Miller calls this the "slow and inefficient work of God" and compares it to the way the ocean waves slowly erode the shoreline. Yet, this slow work has produced lasting fruit in my life. My teacher's example of joy made me hungry to have the same relationship with God that she had.
My faith gradually took root in my life and grew through my secondary years. God gave me friends and mentors who pointed me to Him, opportunities to serve, and moments of clarity. As I entered college, a perfect storm of change started to suck me down into depression. My whole world was different: I was living out of state and away from anyone who had known me for more than a few months, my sister was about to get married, and a relationship I'd counted on had just ended. As I began my sophomore year, I found myself at rock bottom and realized I needed help. God was speaking quietly at that time through my friends and family and my counselor. I found God to be faithful on the long road back to normal and eventually realized that He wasn't taking me back to life as I knew it but was changing and maturing me.
As I've continued to deal with anxiety on a daily basis, God has been teaching me how to care for myself so that I am prepared to serve in His kingdom and to care for His people. I am redeemed by God's patient and constant work in my heart, and I am following Him with the confidence that He will guide me through the great unknown of the rest of my life.