What happens when you walk away from God? What does it mean to leave everything you have ever known and believed?
I grew up in the church. I had parents who cared for me and I had a church family who supported me. It was “nice,” but my heart was always yearning for adventure; for the next trip. I felt a calling for something more but shortly after I finished high school the focus changed. What could I do to earn enough money and travel as often as I wanted to? I really loved the idea of leaving home and sending back pictures of the amazing places I was visiting and the cultures I was learning. The problem was, that I knew I was called to minister and to share God’s love and this is when I started to run away. Just as the prodigal son in the bible dreamt of far-away places, so did I.
A lot of things happened to me in those few years when I had walked away from everything that I had known. I earned my private pilot’s licence and planned on going into the military but was convinced that it was not right for me. I started criminology but was convinced it wasn’t right for me. Little did I know at the time that quitting these things were all a part of God’s plan and not mine. Finally, I started, and finished, the hairstyling program and actually thought to myself that this was what I was called to do. I felt like I was finally in the right place at the right time and was excited to expand my skill and earn enough so that I could have a fabulous life doing what I loved. I had a few jobs in which I done well and gained clients who turned into friends. I even earned a job with a company called Redken in which I taught classes in other salons and traveled for hair shows. I wanted to be a platform artist thinking that that would definitely satisfy this yearning in my heart. I should have been thrilled and enjoying life but I still felt something was missing, I still felt restless and continuously searched for something more. Maybe I needed to go back to school (AGAIN).
I applied and was accepted to the Licenced Practical Nursing (LPN) program in the fall of 2015 and reasoned that I would be able to make enough money, if a continued on to my bachelor of nursing, to work casually and travelled whenever I wanted. As a plus, I would be helping people. This is where my thinking was backwards! My calling was to care for God’s children! God was trying to get through to me all those years that he would use the gifts and passions that he has placed on my heart such as nurturing people as well as my love for travelling. But before I came to this realization and received an indescribable peace, I became more and more depressed and searched for a way out of my misery. I felt trapped and alone and so so far away from God. I eventually hit rock bottom where every day I begged God to take all the pain away. It seemed like I ran away where nobody could find me, but God was still near and watching over me. My family never stopped praying for my return home.
The prodigal son that we are all so familiar with from the bible was me. Just as his father never gave up hope, neither did my family. It’s the same for when we return HOME to God. He never gives up on us or leaves and this was my learning in my journey. I roamed the world and walked away from God but even though I thought I was far from Him, God never deserted me. My heavenly father was always close by my side keeping me safe by his grace. I wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for his grace and He lead me back HOME into his arms through my family’s prayers and showing me that I am beautiful and strong and there is much more in store for my life. My prayer for this year’s YCNL is that those who are seeking their home will find it in the arms of God, just as I have in my life. It is exciting that this conference is still building and moving and shaking God’s kingdom.