Often times you hear people telling you that when you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior you are transformed. You are made new. But what does that even mean? To a new believer, it can sound a bit hokey. Was God supposed to wash over me and suddenly I stopped sinning? Was I born again? Made perfect? Righteous? How will I feel different (if at all)?
I can tell you from personal experience that the transformation was more noticeable in hindsight than it was in the moment. When I accepted Christ (aka chose to not only believe but to follow Him), it changed me in many ways, but the only thing that had immediately changed was my heart.
Let’s start from the beginning
Unlike other stories you may know of, there was no grand show for me accepting Jesus into my life. It didn’t happen at my baptism (I was raised Catholic and baptized as an infant). There was no altar call. It happened sometime after I was invited to church with a friend on Easter of 2014. That story can be found here. From that day forward my life has never been the same.
“An acquaintance from college had just moved to the area with her husband and started working in my unit (small world). A few weeks before Easter, she handed me a flier and casually asked if I would like to go to church with her and have Easter lunch afterward.
I immediately said yes! I met her and her husband at their house before church, and we all rode together to their Easter Service. This made a world of difference. I walked into a large foreign building and felt comforted that I had a friend by my side. Surely people wouldn’t know who I was.
That service transformed my life.”
Change of Heart
During that Easter service I fell in love with the Lord. I had a fire ignite within me, a passion, a drive to get to know who this Jesus Christ of the Bible really was. This was about the only thing that instantly changed - my desire. Like a girl infatuated with a new guy, Jesus had become my guy (sorry David).
The few noticeable things that changed immediately:
I joined a small group called “Called to Serve” with other Christian women affiliated with the military (both Active Duty or Spouse).
I couldn’t wait to go to church on Sundays. This literally became my favorite day of the week. I had a hunger that only church could somewhat fill.
I had a curiosity to answer all of my questions and learn all that I could about God.
I began volunteering with the church ministries.
I started reading and studying my Bible.
Those areas in which I noticed a change aren’t for everyone. It’s not a list of changes every new believer should go through. Instead, its how I noticed my life change in those first few weeks. I acted the same and believed all of the same things. The biggest difference was that I had a curiosity that needed to be filled and I surrounded myself with a Christian community that would eventually play a significant part in my transformation process.
By participating in a small group, I found a life long friend that challenged my beliefs. She encouraged me in my faith and showed me what it was like to be unapologetically Christian. She was always reaching for my hand and trying to pray out loud (which felt EXTREMELY uncomfortable at the time). She encouraged me in my relationships with family and my fiancé (now husband). She shared her history with me and ultimately, she became a true sister in Christ.
Volunteering in other ministries forced me into meeting people in different stages of their faith, from new believers to pastors of the Church. Simply having conversations with these people answered questions, created new ones, and taught me what Christianity was all about.
Christianity wasn’t about perfection, nor was it about never sinning (that was impossible). It also wasn’t about everyone believing the exact same thing (this will be a completely different post).
Revelation of Truth
The more I read and studied the bible, the more questions began to arise. BUT (this is a BIG but), things started to make sense. It was as if God lifted up my blinders and allowed me to understand the truth behind scripture. Not everything of course, for there is so much I still do not understand. And for the things I still don’t understand, He gave me a peace to accept that I will not know everything.
After all, that was one of my biggest frustrations. There was so much that did not make sense to me, could I really believe and follow Jesus if I didn’t understand everything?
The simple answer – yes!
Evolution over the Last 5 Years
Over time, I started noticing my behaviors and beliefs change. When I was younger, I had strong social and political beliefs that changed through my journey to faith.
I went from believing that a woman should have a choice over what happens to her own body, to believing that every person (from conception) should have the right to life.
I went from believing that as long as you were in love, it didn’t matter who you married, to realizing God designed marriage, and that is between a man and a woman.
I went from believing that as long as I was a good person that’s all that mattered, to realizing there is no such thing as a good person except for Christ.
I went from believing that I could earn my salvation (be a good person) to understanding that it had nothing to do with my actions.
And I went from believing that Christianity was all about knowing/reciting the Bible, to understanding that Christianity was more about living for Christ even if you can’t recite scripture.
This list could go on and on about all the ways my ideas, thoughts and beliefs were challenged and altered, but that’s not the point of this story. The point is that being a Christian isn’t a one-time thing. You don’t accept Christ into your life and then BAM you are changed. Christianity is a journey you take for the rest of your life. It’s the decision to follow Christ no matter where He takes you. It’s the decision to humbly admit that you are unworthy yet chosen. It’s the decision to understand that every word, every thought, every action, is a reflection of God’s work in your life.
Do not be discouraged when you stumble, because God will be there to pick you back up (Psalm 37). Do not be discouraged if you’ve recited the sinners prayer and still question whether you did it right. Do not be discouraged if your life looks nothing like the “perfect Christian” you keep comparing yourself to.
Your story is your own to live out. It will not look like anyone else’s. Keep asking those questions, keep striving to know more of God. Keep talking to Him and asking Him for clarification and guidance.
One day, sooner than you think, you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come.