I grew up in a Christian family. My parents were very involved with our church. They led the youth group and would take them to a summer camp every year.
So from a very young age I had a lot of exposure to that, and I feel like my parents did a very good job of letting me understand that a relationship with God was something I had to choose myself. It wasn’t something I inherited based on their involvement in the church and their faith.
I really did have a deep interest in getting to know God. I would do my little devotions after school and I set a goal to read through the entire Bible. I think my parents stuff with the youth group combined with going to the Christian camp allowed me to learn and experience a lot of God’s presence.
I don't know the exact moment when I accepted Christ, but I do remember one time my devotional talked about “being saved” and I said, “Ok, I better make sure I’m on board with that.”
When I got into junior high, I began to become a bitter person. I had a hard time fitting in, like a lot of junior high kids. I got made fun of a lot. I was really hurt by many things that had happened and thankfully that ended up being a period when I could cling to God. He was constant. But I think the aftermath of that was that I was a very bitter person who thought she was better than everyone else.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I was really tired of always doing the right thing and being the “good kid,” while not feeling like I was getting any recognition for it. I had a really bad attitude about the small town I grew up in and the people around me. I was just kind of a snob, honestly. I was ready to get away and be around people who were more like me.
In all that, I wasn’t angry at God, but I was tired of pursuing Him. It felt like I wasn't getting a lot in return for standing by Him.
So I went into college at Ohio State. Immediately, I felt a lot of relief, peace and enjoyment. I was having so much fun meeting lots of friends. I got involved with Cru there. Something that was really humbling and good for me was, for the first time in my life, I was around peers who actually challenged me in my faith. I had always been the superstar in my youth group. In college I was in an environment with people who were more mature than I and who had some really interesting things to say: things that I had never thought of before. That was incredibly humbling, and necessary to experience to understand I had a long way to go still.
After freshman year, I decided to go on summer project with Cru to Ocean City, NJ. It was mostly because I didn't want to go home that summer. By the time it rolled around, I really wasn't looking forward to it. I was in a dry and not-great place with God. Once I got there, God used that time to reveal a lot of realities about my life and my faith.
The main turning point was when I talked to a staff member about the struggles I had been having, having been a Christian for a long time and seeing areas of my life where I felt God was not present and she stopped me and said, “You know, Susan, I think there are a lot of things you know about God but maybe you don't necessarily believe.”
That completely changed my perspective: what it means to follow God and to know Him and to really believe His purpose for my life, and really believe that He loves me. I think those are the kind of things I had known and I had been riding all my knowledge on for so long, but I hadn’t really taken the time on it to sit down and understanding that knowledge is only going to get you so far.
That was a major, major turning point for me in my faith.
After that, I was seeing evangelism as a lifestyle and seeing the need to be a part of it. At the end of college, He provided a job for me in D.C. on Capitol Hill.
God allowed me to see that whatever we do in life is a ministry. I am very confident this is where He wants me. I am really excited to see what He wants me to do in this area, as I get to know this culture and the needs here and understanding the trends that are happening here in the country and the world. No matter what happens, I am going to be part of His greater purpose for people knowing Him.
If you are reading this and for some reason you hate God, and you feel alone, know that He is constantly loving you. He will turn the situation around. Therefore, choose God as He chooses you.
It could be said that I grew up in the church, however, my heart was not entirely in it.
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