In Sunday school, I learned that it was important to read the Bible, but the question I always had was, how do you do it?
As I mentioned in my testimony, our church has a tradition of giving Bibles to 3rd graders. I wouldn’t have minded an instruction pamphlet when I got mine. Although I loved to read, my earliest attempts to read the Bible were not successful.
Ever read something powerful, but afterwards struggled to apply it to your own life until you took a second glance?
That happened to me when I was reading Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff. Love Does is an extraordinary book. It’s full of real stories from Bob Goff’s life, many of which are funny, and important takeaways.
As a young person, I love 1 Timothy 4:12.
The first part says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…” Which is nice, the Bible is actually telling me that young people are good. Lots of times, young people are looked down on for being rude, clueless, or generally problematic.
My heart thudded against my chest. My breaths were fast and shallow. I felt like I was gasping for air.
I would hold myself, I would try to self-soothe.
I cried a lot. I felt constantly alone.
For this post, I had the privilege of talking with several friends of mine as well as a few adults about the importance of Christian community. Some names have been changed.
One of the things I miss the most out of all the things we’ve lost by sheltering in place during this pandemic is my community. Even though I get to see them on video calls, it isn’t the same. Through these last few weeks I’ve realized how much my church, youth group and girls’ group is important to me.
I love to journal. I am passionate about all kinds of writing and keeping a journal is just one of the ways I do that. Every time I fill up one journal, I go through my collection of journals, and pick my next one based on what season of life I am going through.
This season’s journal was decorated with loaves and fishes. I wanted it to remind me of God’s provision. The reason was, before all the cancellations and quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was supposed to go on a mission trip. It was going to be my first mission trip and I was excited and a little nervous to see how God was going to use me.
Prayer was hard for me because I never knew what to say. I was a shy girl who lived in fear of saying the wrong thing, even to God. Every time I tried to pray, it felt wrong for some reason. I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right.
The first thing that opened up my eyes to prayer was the Prayer Night I mentioned in my testimony. That was what started my learning, but I didn’t become “perfect” at praying. I was still confused after the event and had more questions.
My youth leader gave everyone an index card. “Write a question,” he said. “It could be a question about God, a random question, or even a silly one. These cards are anonymous.”
There were many questions I had that I was too shy to ask, so I was grateful to be able to ask them on paper. I took the index card and wrote my question: “Why is there an Old Testament?” and dropped it in the box. A few weeks later we had the Question Night I mentioned in my testimony and I got an answer.
The hymn came to an end. That’s my cue, I realize, clutching a printed copy of my testimony. Barefoot, in a swimsuit under a heavy blue robe, I calmly step down into the water in the tub behind the stage at my church. My pastor, after telling the church my name and a few words about baptism, gently pushes me closer to the microphone. Surprisingly, I’m not as anxious as I expected I would be. I had always just seen baptism as “that scary event in the future,” but now that I am actually doing it, I feel a strange sense of peace.