My parents only ever wanted one thing from my two sisters and me: to be good Christian women. We were expected to go to church every Sunday, get good grades in school, always strive to be better at sports, and set an example to our peers. The tricky thing about having these expectations was that they did not leave a lot of room for mistakes.
For my sisters, it was easy for them to have a relationship with God. I remember growing up and going to my older sister for advice, and she would always respond with “you should really pray about that and give it to God.” Now, as a non-believer, you could imagine how it was difficult for me to not want punch her in the face, but then again, I was so envious of her; I was envious of the fact that my sisters could believe and I could not. I was lost in this world with only my masks to protect me.
To everyone growing up, I had a good head on my shoulders. I was in advanced courses, top of my athletic teams, volunteered and participated at my church, and acted mature for my age. In reality, I was this extremely insecure girl, who hated who she saw in the mirror and had no idea if this God person really existed. I was lost in a sinful world.
Then going into my senior year of high school, my world was flipped upside down: my father filed for divorce. The most difficult part was seeing my church’s reaction. After many Elder meetings and a requirement of a public apology from my father, they revoked his membership to the church.
My mother, sisters, and I still attended the church, but it was never the same. People I would consider my church family began to pity us and treat us with shame. I felt their eyes staring at us during the church service, and heard their whispers. This great reputation that my family had built up with the church was taken away instantly.
I was trapped in a world of emotions with no escape. I had formed distaste for the church, and I got to a point in my life where I thought if that is how Christians acted, then maybe it was for the best that I did not know God.
At this point, strangely enough, I was packing up my things to come to Vanguard. I was beyond ready to leave my little hometown of Visalia, CA and leave all the memories of my past behind me. I was ready to start over, but I never expected my life to change so abruptly.
For the first time in my life I was confronted with people who wanted to really know me. After a couple of weeks of floor events, chapels and Dr. Camery-Hoggatt’s N.T. Survey class, I was introduced to a God that I had never fully understood before.
Then, after 18 years of being envious of my sisters, wearing masks and thinking that I would never believe in Christ, it took me three weeks at Vanguard to become not only a believer, but form a relationship with my true Father and I have never looked back.