January 2, 2014
I grew up in a Christian home and regularly attended church throughout my childhood. Church was a big part of my life, up until my teenage years. My parents were strong believers and led by example how to live a Christian life. The church I grew up in ended up being plagued by scandal and our family eventually left. After I went into high school, my life got very busy as many teenager’s lives do and I grew further and further away from God and my Christian upbringing. I always thought in the back of my head, “I’ll get back to living a Christian life soon.” I was also plagued with guilt, feeling like I was a “bad” Christian.
After high school I occasionally went to services at a church my sister worked for and still referred to myself as a Christian, but it was a faint belief, definitely not something I shaped my life around. During the time my sister worked for this church, her and I became roommates. I began to hear many stories of what was going on behind the scenes. It seemed scandal after scandal kept happening and it became increasingly difficult to want to attend. I would watch the people on stage worshiping, knowing what they were really doing behind the scenes. It all started to feel very fake to me and more of a show and eventually I stopped attending. I started feeling as if many people who called themselves Christians were hypocrites.
As I thought about Christianity and the people I knew, I struggled because I felt like Christianity wasn’t significantly changing people or their lifestyles. I could name only a handful of people who seemed radically changed or who I felt was a pure example of how faith in Christ can transform a person. I felt like the biggest obstacle for many people becoming Christians was other Christians and their hypocrisy. I felt like Christian churches were failing in attracting the non-believer and that most Christians needed to continually be “fed” instead of “feeding others.”
I listened to a sermon online one day and the pastor had statistics of Christians in America. The statistics showed that Christianity was rapidly decreasing in the United States. I couldn’t help but wonder why? Was it all hocus pocus? I also started feeling like many people seemed to belong to a religion without really knowing what they believe or in depth details and would just be able to regurgitate information instead of having a personal testimony. For example, even growing up in a Christian home and attending church all throughout my youth, I had never even read the Christian bible cover to cover. I knew Sunday School stories and a few basics.
I struggled with guilt feeling this way about the faith I grew up in. In the back of my mind, I still told myself, “I’ll get back to it one day.” I moved to Austin, TX from northern California in August of 2006. Almost immediately I started struggling with health problems. When I moved to Austin, I drove in my car without having a job, a place to live or a single friend. I knew my family would all eventually move out to the area but I didn’t know how long it would take.
Throughout the first few years in Austin, I dealt with multiple injuries and sickness that allowed me to spend a lot of time by myself. I spent most of my down time reading a multitude of books, mainly on the subjects of health, spirituality and religion. I had a strong interest to know why people believe what they believe. I also started exploring and practicing meditation. The people I knew with tangible “religious” experiences seemed to be those who meditated a lot and were either involved with Eastern religions or New Age. I desperately wanted my own experiences, to go on my own journey with the hope of “discovering” the truth.
I read as much as I could about Taoism, Buddhism, Shamansim, all things New Age related, Christianity, etc… I also listened weekly to online sermons from the Austin Stone Church here in Austin (Christian). I kept hearing things in these sermons that spoke to my heart, things I don’t remember being taught in the churches I grew up in. At the same time, many things I read kept pointing me back to Christianity regardless of if I was looking for it. For example, I read a book on a man who went into the jungles of Peru to be a Shaman. By the end of the book, he had converted to Christianity and I was able to read the process of how he got there. Time and time again this kept happening. I woke up one day with the following phrase in my mind, “Peace I leave with you my peace, I give to you I do not give to you as the world gives.” This became my main meditation phrase and I found peace and happiness that I had not formerly experienced through other meditations when I used this phrase. I soon discovered that I felt a very different kind of happiness, peace and love when I studied the Christian bible, prayed and practiced Christian meditation. I also started noticing a multitude of synchronicities happening, some so small you get that voice in your head asking, “was that a coincidence?” I soon realized that everything I studied and read pointed me back to Christianity without me intending for that to happen. Studying God, Jesus and and The Holy Spirit through scripture was the only time I felt God’s presence. I felt a whole new type of guidance the more I studied the bible. These experiences and synchronicities did not happen through studying other doctrine.
Throughout my journey, I never stopped believing that Jesus was on this Earth. Many non-Christians have a hard time denying that a man named Jesus walked the Earth. He influenced our world more than any other man. He preached love. As I studied the New Testament, time and time again I came across the commandment to love one another through action. Jesus was a pure, true example of how we are to live as Christians. Love is an action, a verb. One cannot command another person to “love.”
My journey led me to strongly believe in Jesus as the Son of God, the way, the truth and the life. I re-dedicated my life to Christ and everything started to fall into place. I finally understood why I was sick for so long and am thankful to have had all the downtime to go on this spiritual journey and the abundance of time in my own head. The idea for Random Acts of Love started formulating during this journey. I have felt Spirit-led throughout the process of launching this non profit. Thank you for taking time to read my testimony.