I took the first step. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior that afternoon, from the floor of the bathroom, and started my journey. But remember, my boyfriend was sitting on the couch in the family room watching TV. He did not make the choice. And, at that moment, he didn’t know I made that choice. I felt so confused and conflicted. I wanted to run out and tell him what I just did, how filled up I felt, how excited I was about living this new life. But, I was scared.
What if he doesn’t accept me? What if he doesn’t want to live this life? What will we do?
So, as many new Christians, I started on my journey alone – as a closet Christian – for lack of a better term. Outside of my sister, I didn’t talk about my faith – at all. If you were around me, you wouldn’t know my faith. We weren’t living a very Christian life. We weren’t married – heck, we weren’t even engaged at this point. We were spending many weekend hours at bars – drinking, gambling, swearing, etc.
When I finally did talk to my boyfriend about it, he was happy for me. However, he didn’t understand the difference I felt inside. He was also raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools for most of his K-12 years, went to church every week – sat in the same pew at the front of the church – knew all the families in the church – the priest was a family friend – and so on. To him, I was catching up to speed with him. He was there. He had religion down. He knew all of the what to do.
And, he did have religion down. What he didn’t understand (and at the time I truly didn’t either), I wasn’t asking about his religion. He knew how to be a good Catholic in church. He knew all of the prayers. He knew when to stand and sit and kneel. He knew when and how to cross himself, all the right responses, all of the songs. He was an amazing Catholic. That wasn’t my question. I was asking about his faith. What did he do outside of church? Why did our lifestyle not match our faith?
Again – this is not Catholic bashing. We are still Catholics and will always be Catholics! This is specifically about us and our journey.
So, after a few early conversations, I kept my journey quiet from him, too. My sister helped me take a few steps down the road. I read the rest of the Left Behind series and fell in love with what I was learning. My sister then introduced me to Karen Kingsbury and several of her series of books. And, I will again forever be thankful for my sister. She knew I was tentative and doing this alone. She didn’t send me to the Bible to read it in a year and learn all about how broken and sinful I was (and believe me, I was!!). She let me take a step. One step. One small little step. And…she encouraged me as I took it. When I fell off the path, she didn’t scold me or belittle me, she just encouraged me to get back up and get back on my path, my journey, my relationship. So, I did.
For many years, I took this walk, with only my sister’s encouragement. I read and listened and learned. I didn’t share my journey with many people, even my boyfriend whom I knew I would marry one day. I wouldn’t recommend walking this way, but I know so many people do. Because, when you start on this journey, you start to see all the things you are doing that God really doesn’t want us to do for very specific reasons.
Here are three of my favorite Bible versus that I pray & remind myself quite often.
Matthew 7:13-14 (Good News Bible): “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.”
Romans 12:2 (GNB): “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God – what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”
And, why – why does God want us to walk through this narrow, less travel gate and not be conformed to this world – Let’s go back to the old testament:
Jeremiah 29:11 (GNB): “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.”
I found it, and it was narrow, and it was hard, and it was lonely, and I fell off – sometimes jumped off – because it was so hard. What’s amazing about our God is that, when I came back, when I put my foot back on the road and continued my journey, I could almost feel the smile on His face. It felt like He wrapped His arms around me like the father of the prodigal son and said “For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found” (Luke 15:24, GNB).