This is my first post! YAY! I'm sitting at the kitchen table at home this morning and mom says to me, "I've got a deeper question for you". So here goes another little part of my journey.
For a year or two I had my heart set on going into youth ministry and working with high school kids. I loved my youth group and the friendships and opportunities that came from it. I wanted to be able to give those same experiences to kids as a leader. But something changed in me that pushed me away from that, and I had never really thought about it until now when my mom asked, "What changed your mind?"
The middle of my junior year through the end of my senior year I was caught up in a friend group that was nothing but toxic for my faith. The boyfriend at the time had completely dropped the church and wanted nothing to do with it, and had even expressed how he didn't like me going to church with those people. A "best friend" at the time had never been apart of the church, and had judged me for spending "so much of your free time doing church things". Another "friend" told me that youth ministry would not be a wise financial choice for college, that kids were awful, and that there would be no way I could live off of the money it brought in unless I married into money. And I began to think, maybe they're right, and I pushed my faith to the side to try and fit in.
Shortly before graduation I had a falling out with these three particular people, and for a while, I was a real life representation of depression. I cried daily (if not twice daily), I pushed my family away, I didn't want to hang out with other friends, and I for CERTAIN did not want to go to God for help. These people had hurt me so badly that I really didn't know what to do. I honestly can't tell you exactly how I came out of this funk, but I know that it had something to do with my mom's constant prayers for me ;) As I completely dropped these three people, my life got better. They would still message me occasionally about how I was making a bad decision, however. Through going to God and praying constantly over THEM, I learned to forgive and to know that I was not who they said I was, I am who God says I am.
My faith grew from there, I dig into the Bible every night, turn down friends who are out to make bad decisions, and I've learned that God has a beautiful plan for my life, and that I can't wait to see what it is.
At times, my faith shakes a little bit, like when I am reminded of those experiences with those people or when they pop in now and then to make a negative comment about me or something that I've been doing. But I have God, my family, and my closest friends to thank for who I've been shaped into today.
In the fall after I return from Peru, my current plans are to attend Valparaiso University (a school that these same people told me was too far away for them to be able to see me) to major in youth ministry. And who knows, God works in crazy ways, and things change.