I lived my life as if something was missing. I was not conscious of this, though, yet I did behave in a manner that demonstrated I was looking for something other than the ordinary. Maybe what I’m about to tell you will sound very familiar, or maybe you won’t relate to it at all but, whatever your experience has been, my point is that our seemingly insignificant daily choices define who we are in the long run.
Like many of us that have grown up in the church, I got into the habit of going to church because that’s what we always did, and because I wanted to see my friends and socialize. I don’t think I ever understood Jesus or what He did for me on the cross. I was always conscious that there was something regarding faith and His love that was not clear to me. It was a mystery to me how some people learn about the truth, get converted and change their lives and habits in the blink of an eye.
For years, I struggled with health and dress reform. How was it possible that some people from the world just heard about it, fully accepted it, and had the power to practice it in an instant? In an attempt to appease my conscience, I told myself that people are just different, and that the way we experience faith and Jesus can vary a lot. That is partially true. You can experience Jesus in many different ways, and your experience can be completely different from mine, but in the end we react and respond to His love the same way, always!
My experience is probably a modern version of Peter’s story from the Bible. Yes that's right—Peter—the disciple who kept going back and forth between pledging loyalty to Jesus and then three seconds later denying Him.
It’s not easy to say it out loud, but I believe that is how many of us who are raised in the truth behave. That is until the day you really experience Jesus. Once you do, everything is different. At least things should be different. But in my case, I saw myself losing my experience with God little by little because of the daily choices I made that caused me to go back and forth between loving Jesus with all my heart and denying Him. Every other day I would catch myself sinking into another “Peter moment”, saying, "Yes, Lord, I love You!" with my words, but "No, I don’t love Him" with my actions.
God used many things in my experience to bring me back to Him. He used a tumor in my leg that almost left me handicapped. He used a hereditary facial deformity to keep me from trouble during my teenage years, and when nothing worked He used another country, another set of parents, new friends, and a church family.
One day, He used a college assignment to show me that my daily choices were setting me up to become who I was going to be in the future. The assignment was to ask my friends what they would say at my funeral if I were to die. It was a big surprise to find out that none of my friends saw me as a happy Christian girl. That was the image of myself I had in my mind, and what I thought I was demonstrating to everybody around me.
One of my friends, inspired by what I think was divine providence, told me what I had the potential to be: “the girl that wears happiness like it is the most beautiful dress and that deeply cares for people.” I have been praying that God will help me to be this girl. Like Peter sinking in the water, I have been crying out: "Lord, save me! Save me from myself, turn me into the person you planned I would be." And just like He answered Peter’s cry, He answers me little by little. He sends me friends with words of encouragement. He sends a child with a warm hug to brighten up my stressful day. He sends me a beautiful blue sky with bright white fluffy clouds to remind me that He loved Peter, and He also loves you and me.
May God help us to pay attention to our daily choices so that we may make choices that will help us grow closer to Him each day.